We’ll take a look at all 30 teams in the next 30 days as they prepare for the 2017-2018 regular season, which is when the real fireworks begin! Today's team: Philadelphia 76ers
BOSTON – For years the Sixers have stunk while asking their fans to “trust the process,” with the losses piling up like a clogged sewage pipe.
It’s pretty clear by the moves they made this offseason, this franchise is tired of being a league-wide punchline for putrid play.
30 teams in 30 days:
Instead, they seem poised to punch back and – wait for it! – play competitive basketball that could potentially see them do the seemingly unthinkable and that’s get to the playoffs this spring.
There is an unmistakable buzz surrounding this team that’s based on something other than potential or incredibly pitiful play.
It’s rooted in progress, the kind that just may reward fans with a trip to the postseason for the first time since 2012 when they were eliminated in the second round by the Boston Celtics.
At the heart of Philadelphia’s now-optimistic hopes of having a bright future sooner rather than later, is Joel Embiid.
The 7-foot big man was a walking force of nature in his first healthy season (injuries sidelined him for his first two seasons in the league), which was an issue with him logging limited minutes (25.4 per game) and being even more limited when it came to actual games played (31).
But in that time, he averaged 20.2 points and 7.8 rebounds with 2.1 assists and 2.5 blocks per game, the kind of stats that would put him firmly in the All-Star conversation.
However, the concerns that have dogged him since he came into the NBA – his health - are once again an issue heading into this season.
Embiid’s status to start the season remains uncertain due to a meniscus tear in his left knee suffered last season that has yet to heal to the point where he has been cleared to resume full basketball-related activities.
However, the optimism for Philadelphia competing for a playoff spot this season has more to do with them adding a pair of playoff-tested veterans in Amir Johnson and J.J. Redick who came via free agency from Boston and the Los Angeles Clippers, respectively.
Philadelphia should also benefit from having Ben Simmons on the floor.
Drafted by the Sixers with the top overall pick in the 2016 NBA draft, Simmons has been cleared for full basketball-related activities after having suffered a foot injury that led to him missing the entire 2016-2017 NBA season.
And Philadelphia’s top pick in last June’s NBA draft, Markelle Fultz, suffered an ankle injury during summer league in Las Vegas last month but he too is on track to be ready to go before the start of training camp.
To talk about Philadelphia and good health in the same breath, is indeed progress. And if their core guys can manage to maintain a relatively clean bill of health during the regular season, Sixers fans will finally reap the fruits of having trusted the process.
Key free agent/draft/trade additions: J.J. Redick (Los Angeles Clippers); Amir Johnson (Boston).
Key losses: Ersan Ilyasova (Atlanta); Sergio Rodriguez (CSKA Moscow); Gerald Henderson (free agent).
Rookies of note: Markelle Fultz; Furkan Korkmaz.
Expectations: 36-44 (Third in the Atlantic Division, ninth in the East)