The Sixers are 3-4 through two weeks of the young NBA season. The team started slow, but now winners of two straight, Philadelphia has some semblance of momentum.
There is valid reason to be concerned based on the Sixers’ porous transition defense and general lack of offensive coherence, but I’m here to argue in favor of trusting talent. The Sixers have too much firepower not to figure it out eventually.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at every player who has been part of the rotation through two weeks. It’s time for the first report card of the semester: who’s acing the class, and who needs to turn things around?
Sixers player grades: Starting frontcourt
JOEL EMBIIDC, 76ers
Joel Embiid hasn’t been the MVP through seven games, but he’s still an obvious and undeniable superstar. After two ugly performances to open the season, Embiid has settled into a nice rhythm offensively. He’s handling pressure more gracefully, seeking out teammates with his passing, and torching the defense from multiple spots on the floor. His own defense has gotten progressively better as well.
Body language has been a mild issue for Embiid — he lets his frustrations get to him far too transparently — but it’s hard to knock 27.2 points per game on career-best efficiency (we’ll see if that holds more than seven games). This grade is only so middle-of-the-road because of the extremely high standard Embiid has set for himself.
P.J. TUCKERF, 76ers
P.J. Tucker does what P.J. Tucker does. It’s hard to find too many complaints about his first couple weeks in Sixers blue. He’s guarding the opposition’s best player every night, he’s working tirelessly on the glass, and he’s chewing out teammates in the locker room when the circumstances call for it. He’s an important leader for this team and the kind of player whose value stretches vastly beyond the box score.
TOBIAS HARRISF, 76ers
The process is better for Tobias Harris. He’s taking the most 3s per game of his career (5.9) and he’s making them at a 41.5 percent clip. Harris has generally been quite good about checking his ego and embracing his complementary role.
Now, there have been moments of weakness too. He’s still too sluggish a decision-maker, and Harris’ defensive awareness has been wayward on several occasions to start the year. I’m not sure if he’s really cut out to be a full-blown role player. There’s too much “star” DNA in his game, which doesn’t always favor Harris or the Sixers. He’s still passing up open 3s for contested mid-range jumpers. He makes the game harder than it has to be sometimes, but overall the results have been solid.