With all the changes surrounding the 2019 NBA free agency period, we were surprised to see one of the Eastern Conference’s best teams ahead of everyone else as the favorites to have the most wins in the NBA this season.
Bleacher Report recently projected every teams’ win/loss record for the 2019–20 season, and the Philadelphia 76ers were picked to win the most games. Here are the factors that will contribute to the 76ers’ success next season.
Joel Embiid’s health
When Joel Embiid is healthy, he is easily one of the top-10 players in the NBA, if not a top-five player. He can easily average over 25 points and 12 rebounds per game and his offensive skill set makes him one of the toughest matchups in the paint for today’s defenses.
The question with Embiid has always been health, as he has missed several games throughout his career. If he can stay healthy and play in 68 to 72 games this upcoming season, the Sixers should have a good shot at winning the East.
Ben Simmons developing a jump shot?
Earlier this off-season Tobias Harris spoke about Ben Simmons adding a deep threat to his offensive repertoire. Simmons is one of the games best players due to his length and his ability to attack the rim at 6’7 for a point guard. The only issue Simmons has is his inability to want to shoot from anywhere outside of the paint.
He took just four shots from behind the arc last season but we expect him to gain more confidence in his outside shot in 2019. If he becomes average at it, the 76ers are a scary team.
When Jimmy Butler was shipped to the Miami Heat at the beginning of the free agency period, we expected them to have a big hole to fill at the shooting guard position. However, they were able to land Josh Richardson in the sign-and-trade deal.
After averaging over 16 points per game last season with Miami he should be able to fit in nicely as a fourth or fifth option on offense.
Landing Richardson and letting Butler go also gave the Sixers enough cap space to sign Al Horford. This is a significant haul for three reasons. No. 1) It strikes a major blow to the Boston Celtics front line. No. 2) It gets Embiid free in the offense, instead of having Horford defend him in a playoff series, who he has routinely shut down in the playoffs. No. 3) It allows Horford and Embiid to play together which could cause matchup nightmares for opposing defenses.
There’s Milwaukee, there’s Boston, then who else?
Another thing going in Philadelphia’s favor is the talent deficit in the Eastern Conference. The Bucks might not be as good as last season because they let Malcolm Brogdon head to Indiana. Boston adds Kemba Walker over Kyrie Irving, but there’s no other major threat in the East.
That’s why BleacherReport thinks there shouldn’t be anything stopping the Sixers from winning 50+ games next season.