NBC Sports Washington is looking around the league as we prepare for the 2017-18 NBA season. Today, we break down the Philadelphia 76ers' outlook...
2016-17 record: 28-54, 14th in East
Coach: Brett Brown
Key additions: PG Markelle Fultz, SG J.J. Redick, PF Amir Johnson
Key losses: SG Gerald Henderson
Projected lineup: PG Markelle Fultz, SG J.J. Redick, SF Ben Simmons, PF Dario Saric, C Joel Embiid
1. Can Embiid and Simmons stay healthy?
'The Process' has netted the Sixers some very intriguing young players but two of them - Embiid and Simmons - have major injury concerns. Embiid has played in just 31 games since he was drafted in 2014 due to various ailments involving his back, knee and feet. He had surgery to repair a torn meniscus in March. Simmons missed his entire rookie year because of foot surgery.
Both are crazy talented, but if the Sixers can count on them full-time isn't clear quite yet. Embiid was on a minutes restriction this past season and is coming off surgery. Simmons has yet to return and foot injuries can be tricky. Hopefully, for the game of basketball's sake, both can show what they're made of this season.
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2. Is Fultz ready for an instant impact?
In addition to Embiid and Simmons, the Sixers have another blue chip prospect in Fultz, the No. 1 overall pick in this summer's draft. They traded a lot to get him and hope he is the missing piece to complete an important stage of their rebuild. With Simmons, the Sixers will be adding the last two No. 1 picks to their lineup.
Fultz was a phenom in college. He adapted very quickly, averaging 23.2 points, 5.9 assists and 5.7 rebounds per game. That's impressive, but offers no guarantee he will find early success at the NBA level. There are a ton of good point guards out there and Fultz will find that out soon with John Wall and the Wizards awaiting him opening night in D.C.
3. Can they make a playoff push?
The Sixers pulled off one of the most blatant tank jobs in sports history to collect a group of young players that is undeniably impressive. But they can't keep tanking forever. Is this the year they finally become a competitive NBA team?
Their fans (and Coach Brown) have been very patient, but it seems like this would be a good time to take the next step and actually gun for a playoff spot. The signing of Redick in free agency to a $23 million deal suggests they are ready to go for it and it will be interesting to see if they can make some noise with such a young team or whether it will take a few years for them to gel.
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