What would be considered a successful season for the Philadelphia 76ers?

PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 26: Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers reacts against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Wells Fargo Center on October 26, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Thunder defeated the 76ers 103-97. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 26: Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers reacts against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Wells Fargo Center on October 26, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Thunder defeated the 76ers 103-97. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

After making big splashes in the offseason, the Philadelphia 76ers have high expectations for their season.  Realistically, just how high should those expectations be?

For what has seemed like an eternity to basketball fans in Philadelphia, the concept of winning has not been a realistic, attainable goal for the 76ers.  During the past few seasons, the Philadelphia 76ers roster has been comprised of a few young bright spots surrounded by questionable D-League (now called the G-League) level talent.

Philadelphia 76ers
Philadelphia 76ers /

Philadelphia 76ers

Players such as Jakarr Sampson, James Anderson, and Hollis Thompson were regulars in the Sixers’ lineup, yet I would be willing to bet this is the first time most of the readers have seen these names.

It was no accident that the teams were constructed so poorly, however.  The plan since 2013 has been to form rosters that intentionally consist of players that are playing to prove they belong in the NBA, as opposed to adding players that have already proven they belong.

Players of this talent level rarely actually pan out in the league, thus resulting in record setting amounts of losses year in and year out.  There is a method to this madness, which is that by doing so the team will hopefully acquire high draft picks to obtain a future star or two through the draft.

It may still be very early on (and by early, I mean 31 games played combined), but there is a chance that this method brought the 76ers three future stars through the draft.  Joel Embiid has shown that he can dominate both ends of the floor as long as he stays healthy, Ben Simmons displayed his elite playmaking ability in summer league last year, and Markelle Fultz showed that he can score the ball in a plethora of ways this summer.

Not only has this miserable stretch of seasons produced three young studs, but it has also brought the Sixers a few quality role players.  Players such as Robert Covington, T.J. McConnell, and Richaun Holmes have produced at a very high level on both ends of the floor during their tenures with the team so far.  Covington has displayed All-Defense level talent, McConnell has exceeded all expectations as a floor general, and Holmes has proven to be a versatile backup center capable of protecting the rim and finishing at the rim.

Suddenly, the Philadelphia 76ers have a roster full of players capable of playing competitive NBA basketball.  Throw in free agent signing J.J. Redick to the mix and all of a sudden the Sixers are looking like one of the best up and coming teams in the league.

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The tricky part for fans of the team is to separate their excitement and their expectations.  I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the 76ers will not be winning the NBA Finals this season.  It is understandable and expected to have high expectations for a team with this much talent, but how well should we realistically expect the year to go?

The average age the players on the Philadelphia 76ers is about 24 years old.  The inexperience of the players is bound to lead to some off nights, ugly mistakes, and awkward moments this year.  It takes time for young players to find their groove in the NBA, and when almost the entire roster is made up of young players there will inevitably be games where the team looks completely outmatched.

Going back to just last year, the Minnesota Timberwolves were seen as a young team loaded with high level talent and many experts expected them to make the jump into the playoffs.  Quite the opposite happened, and the Wolves’ inexperience proved to be a bigger factor than their incredibly high upside.  The team finished with the third worst record in the west, and were a disaster on defense throughout the year, finishing with the 26th ranked defense.

That being said, there are plenty of reasons to believe that the 76ers can find more success this year than the Timberwolves did last year.  First, the 76ers play in the east, which is undeniably the weaker conference.

The Pacers, Bulls, and Hawks, who all made the playoffs last season, have directed their attention towards tanking this offseason.  This means that there are three open playoff spots for the taking.

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The Heat and Hornets have both bolstered their roster and are expected to be in the playoffs this season, so the last spot will likely go to either the 76ers or Pistons.  The Pistons lost Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in free agency and Marcus Morris in a trade, but they added Avery Bradley, Langston Galloway, and Luke Kennard.

Basically, the Pistons swapped one 3-and-D player for a better one while also getting weaker in the front court.  Reggie Jackson was hampered with injuries last season and his production suffered immensely as a result.  Andre Dummond has established himself as a rebounding machine, but his ability to score the ball further than five feet away from the basket has limited his offensive game.

With all of that being said, it is reasonable to expect the Philadelphia 76ers to make the playoffs this season.  The ceiling for this team is sixth place in the East and winning one playoff series.  The floor for this team is probably 10th place, and that is only if injuries once again plague the season.

Realistically, the season could be considered successful only if the team makes the playoffs.  The franchise has massive goals for the future, and if the team ever wants to develop into a true contender they need to get as much postseason experience as possible.  While Golden State is reigning over the NBA for what will likely be at least three more seasons, the 76ers should be focused on preparing their young stars to blossom at the same time as the Warriors begin to fade.

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There are many factors that could derail this team from their goals, but ultimately when there are this many talented players on one roster the expectations need to be set high.  Making the playoffs would be the first step in the right direction, and from there the sky is the limit.