Hot Take Marathon: Philadelphia 76ers, Not a Top Three Seed
May 6, 2018 - Source: Mitchell Leff/Getty Images North America
*The NBA offseason is cooling down, but the takes at OTG aren't. This month, we are hitting you with the Hot Take Marathon. Check back every day for a spicy NBA take!*
The consensus on NBA Twitter in regards to the Eastern Conference is that the top three seeds in some order are the Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors, and the Philadelphia 76ers. It is easy to make that assumption due to the star power on those three teams and the fact that they were the top three seeds last season as well. However, I think that the Philadelphia 76ers will find themselves outside of that top three this season and will be overtaken by another team in the East.
The 76ers lost two very important rotational pieces that were absolutely vital to their dominant stretch of games to end the season. Say what you will about Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova, but their games complemented Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid perfectly.
Looking at the numbers from last season you can see how Ilyasova and Belinelli’s shooting helped the 76ers. With those two players in the lineup, the 76ers finished the regular season 23-5. Both players were double digit scorers and both shot the ball very well from deep.
Losing those two players is going to hurt the 76ers, but they were able to bring on some players that could potentially make up for their exits in Wilson Chandler, Mike Muscala, and the potential improvement of 2017 number one pick Markelle Fultz.
Fultz showed flashes, but he does the same things that Simmons does for you in a smaller frame. There is lots of positive information coming out about his fixed jumpshot, but until we see it, it is hard to get a feel for what he will be able to do.
Chandler is a solid rotation player in the NBA, but he saw his offensive role in Denver diminish quite a bit last season despite playing over 30 minutes per game. He will come off the bench for the 76ers and it is unlikely that he gets 30 minutes a night. Can he be effective in limited minutes for them?
Muscala is the big question mark. In his short NBA career he has shown the ability to shoot it from deep and as a backup big for the 76ers, it is not clear if he can play together with Embiid or if they will use him exclusively as Embiid’s backup. What is clear is that he is not a great defender or an elite rebounder. The 76ers will need him to be great just in case the unthinkable happens.
The final reason for this prediction is the health of Joel Embiid. I hope that Embiid will never have another injury in his career, but there is always a chance he gets hurt. Without Embiid in the lineup, the 76ers are not a top three team in the East. He missed 19 games last season, but if that number becomes 30 games next season it would be a disaster for Philly.
Let me finish with this thought, despite the fact I believe that a team like Indiana could leapfrog over the 76ers, I still like the team and they have one of the highest upsides of any team in the NBA. They will miss Belinelli and Ilyasova and they are an Embiid injury away from having their playoff seeding ruined.