The Philadelphia Sixers Trending Towards Playoffs
The Philadelphia Sixers are above .500 for the first time in nearly four years and it is all because of the The Process. The Process was the culture created by Sam Hinkie to be patient for a brighter tomorrow. Games were opportunities to tank and the Sixers amassed draft picks and assets in order to find a franchise player.
What came from it was Joel Embiid in the 2014 draft and Ben Simmons in the 2016 draft where he was first overall. Both players have finally been able to play on the court together this season and now things are looking up for the team.
Things were looking bleak for the Sixers when Embiid’s status to play has been in question throughout his career. He was not able to play the year that they drafted him because of a foot injury and he missed the next two seasons. Last season Embiid was finally able to play and was what Sixers fans were hoping for with his ability to shoot, play defense and overall skills.
But that promise was short-lived as he torn meniscus and was forced to miss the remainder of a promising season. Simmons, the top pick of the  draft also missed the entire season due to a foot injury he suffered in the preseason.
Embiid and Simmons both had something to prove going into this season. Embiid was hoping keep the doubters quiet by playing the whole season. He felt he did enough to win Rookie of the Year but the voters did not feel that was the case. Simmons on the other hand felt that people forgot about him and he knew once things got started he would have a chance to get back into the spotlight.
In a rookie poll on NBA.com, Simmons barely received any votes on things like “Who will be the Rookie of the Year?” and “Which rookie will have the best career?” Being not thought of reminded Simmons of when he first came to America from Australia.
According to nbcsports.com Simmons said:
"When I came to the States I was 15 and nobody knew who I was so I feel like I'm kind of back in that stage,” Simmons said. “I have to prove myself again, which is fine. I'm looking forward to that part."
Simmons said confidently, “They’ll remember” when he was pressed on the question of being forgotten by other NBA rookies.
Now things are heading into the right direction with Simmons and Embiid leading the way. The team is on a four-game winning streak. Their ability to shoot the three is sparked by the 6’10 Simmons dishing out assist after assist and finding the shooters in the right spot.
JJ Redick, who the Sixers signed via free agency has been a big impact. In a game against the Pacers earlier this season, Philadelphia needed a spark and Redick answered the call, and making a fade away three-pointer that broke the game open for the Sixers.
The shot going in wasn’t a surprise to Redick who has been practicing that same shot on occasion. Via Sixers.com:
“Believe it or not,” Redick said of 3-pointer at 116-110, “it is something I occasionally practice. I actually had a similar shot against Houston, on Ryan Anderson. I thought it was going to go in, but it was a little short. I had to change my release point tonight, just because of how [Indiana’s] Myles Turner is. It’s a shot I’ve taken before. It’s all end of game, and it’s a shot I feel like I can get off.”
The Sixers have been able to pull out those close games that they lost last year and the play of the starters has the team looking deep. All of the starting lineup is in double figures. The drafting of Embiid and Simmons would not have meant anything if they did not get other players they could consider as pieces to a playoff berth.
Robert Covington is averaging 15.4 points and shooting 49.2 percent from the three-point line. Jerryd Bayless is averaging 11 points and shooting 42 percent from the three-point line. JJ Redick is averaging 15 points and is shooting 43.5 percent from the three-point line. With these three players, all shooting above 40 percent from the three-point line the Sixers will be able to contend with anybody.
The Sixers can shoot the three and have a point guard that is athletic, big, and a force to be reckoned with on offense without a jump shot. He is already being compared to LeBron James. Embiid plays the role of a dominant big man which has died in the league but making a slow comeback with the likes of Embiid, Karl Anthony-Towns, Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins.
The whole starting lineup is averaging double figures and Embiid and Simmons stat-lines are mind boggling when you look at them. Embiid is averaging a double-double with 20.5 points a game and 10.1 rebounds. Simmons is close to averaging a triple-double. He has two triple-doubles early in his career against the Detroit Pistons and the Indiana Pacers. Simmons is averaging 18 points, 9.8 rebounds and 8.2 assists while shooting 51.6 percent from the field.
Simmons’ achievements are commendable to start the season. He is the first player since Shaquille O’ Neal in 1992 to record double-doubles in his first four games. Also, he was the second player to record two triple-doubles in the first nine games of the season since Wilt Chamberlain did it.
Finally, he is the second player to average two triple-doubles in the first nine games of his career. Oscar Robertson was the first to do this in 1960.
The Process was a successful one. Will other teams take this approach? Two big factors will be whether the Sixers can make the playoffs and if players that were drafted like Embiid, Dario Saric, Simmons and Markelle Fultz will all turn into stars. At this rate, this looks like the playoffs are in the Sixers sights.