Sixers: Projecting the 2022-23 starting five and bench unit

James Harden, P.J. Tucker, Sixers (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
James Harden, P.J. Tucker, Sixers (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images)
(Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images) /

Sixers starting center: Joel Embiid

Surprise, surprise — Joel Embiid is your starting center. The reigning two-time MVP runner-up has established himself as one of the NBA’s truly elite superstars. He alone guarantees Philadelphia a spot in the contenders circle each season. Embiid can win games on both sides of the ball, be it with his increasingly diverse offensive repertoire or his elite instincts as a rim protector and help defender.

For the Sixers, it’s all about complementing Embiid. Getting players who make life easier for him has been Daryl Morey’s top priority from the day he arrived, starting with the acquisitions of Danny Green and Seth Curry. This offseason, it was P.J. Tucker and De’Anthony Melton — hard-nosed defenders who can take pressure off of Embiid on the back line.

Embiid’s ability to improve year after year continues to boggle the mind. After an MVP-worthy season in 2020-21, he came back last season and got even better. He make quicker reads out of double teams, started slinging genuinely impressive passes, and led the NBA in scoring along the way. His commitment to the city, franchise, and to winning has made him arguably the signature athlete in Philadelphia.

Now it’s only a matter of putting the right team around him. Is Harden a top-30 player or a top-10 player next season? What kind of leap does Maxey make? Can Harris can cutting down on bad habits? Do the new additions work, or fall flat like so many Sixers moves in the past? If a few things break right, Embiid is good enough to be the best player on a title-winning team. Hopefully the Sixers can put him in a position to be that.