Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons have become franchise cornerstones for the Sixers.
They’re also being recognized as two of the best players in the entire NBA.
Sports Illustrated released its list of the top 100 players in the NBA. Simmons came in at No. 26 while Embiid was No. 9. That means the Sixers now have two of the top 26 players in the league. What’s crazier is both players are under the age of 25. Other than Embiid and Simmons, Nikola Jokic, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Karl-Anthony Towns are the only others in that range younger than 25.
Only two teams have more players of any age in that range: the Warriors (four) and Celtics (three). The Rockets and Raptors have two, like the Sixers.
With Robert Covington (No. 48), Dario Saric (No. 54) and JJ Redick (No. 62), the Sixers have five players in the top 62. Only two other teams can claim that: Boston and Utah. It shouldn’t come as too big of a surprise. The starting five of Simmons, Redick, Covington, Saric and Embiid had the highest net rating of any five-man lineup in the NBA last season (minimum 300 minutes played together).
So what does it all mean? Well, it means the Sixers have two young, elite players and exceptional depth supporting them. It also makes you wonder about Markelle Fultz. The 2017 No. 1 pick was put on SI’s “snubs” list. Nobody can put Fultz in the top 100 right now. He’s an enigma. But imagine if Fultz becomes the player the team thought he would be.
Several players that are on this list will be free agents next offseason — Jimmy Butler, Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving, to name a few — but should the Sixers be all in on any of them? Leonard likely makes the most sense, with Butler being the backup plan. But given what the Sixers already have in place, should they spend money just to spend it?
A lot of things can happen as the 2018-19 season unfolds, but on paper, it looks pretty promising for the Sixers.