Philadelphia 76ers: 3 bold predictions for the 2019-20 season

Josh Richardson, Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons | Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Josh Richardson, Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons | Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

The Philadelphia 76ers could make some noise in the 2019-20 season.

The Philadelphia 76ers finished last season 51-31, good for third in the Eastern Conference. After a summer of roster moves and new contracts, here are three bold predictions for Brett Brown’s new-look squad.

1. The Philadelphia 76ers will make the NBA Finals

There’s a buzz in the Philadelphia air right now. It feels like our year. Joel Embiid is healthy again, and his weight loss has given fans hope that he’ll continue to be. Ben Simmons fell in love with basketball again, hit a 3, and has dominated the first few games of the preseason. He looks like a new player.

Al Horford is one of the few players in the league capable of slowing down Embiid, and he’s on our team now. He also gives Brett Brown flexibility; just five months after not being able to comfortably take Embiid out of games in the Raptors series, the 76ers suddenly have an All-Star level big man to take over when Embiid is resting.

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Tobias Harris is fresh off a $170 million contract and looks the part of a big-time shot-maker. Josh Richardson was the leading scorer on a Heat team that missed the playoffs by two games, and he’s our fifth option. The 76ers have the most talented starting lineup in the NBA, and can match up against anybody.

Scoring in the paint against the 76ers is looking to be next to impossible. They’re long — Matisse Thybulle can afford to gamble on the defensive end, because he has Embiid and Horford protecting the rim. Brett Brown’s group has looked to make impactful defensive plays, then get out in transition. The Hornets looked outclassed in their latest matchup against the 76ers, and Embiid wasn’t even playing. It looks like our year.

2. Ben Simmons will make the All-NBA 1st Team

Through two games of the preseason, Simmons has looked like a new player, and not just because he hit a 3. Yes, this is the preseason, and it’s important not to overreact, especially when one of the opponents was the Guangzhou Loong Lions. However, this is Philadelphia, and overreacting to two preseason games seems right in our wheelhouse.

Yes, Simmons hit a three. But forgetting the three, he’s improved in every way Sixers fans would have wanted. He’s come out aggressive in each game; in the first quarter of these two preseason games, Simmons has averaged 7.5 points, three rebounds, and three assists.

In last year’s preseason, Simmons averaged four points, four assists, and three rebounds in first quarters. He’s looking to make his presence felt early. He’s ratcheted up his aggressiveness in a way that should excite Sixers fans.

3. Joel Embiid will win Defensive Player of the Year

Embiid was close last year. He finished fourth, and earned himself a first place vote. This year is different. He reported that he’s lost 20 pounds, and he looks more nimble out on the floor. A big problem for him last year was his conditioning and weight; offensive players coming around screens could rise up and shoot out of the pick and roll when Embiid was defending, because he would sag back.

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With the weight loss, Embiid looks quicker. He’ll be able to stay with smaller guards, switch when appropriate, and recover faster. His rookie year, when he was at his skinniest, Embiid averaged 2.5 blocks per game. Last year, he averaged just under 2. This year, that number should creep up. His weight loss added athleticism, but he’s kept his defensive IQ. He has as good a shot as anyone.