The NBA season is still in its infancy. But as fans, it’s never too early to think way ahead. That’s what makes watching sports so fun: imagining what the end could be before your team gets there. As a Philadelphia native, born and raised, It is in our nature to overreact to our teams’ good starts. We are starved for another championship parade to come down Broad Street. And this time it may be the Philadelphia 76ers’ turn.
The thrill and sheer euphoria of watching the 2017 Eagles parade still is a watershed moment in my life that I’ll never forget. But, to imagine what the city would look like if and when the Sixers win an NBA title, the city would probably never look the same again. I will definitely be a part of the remodeling process when that happens.
With that being stated, here are my three overreactions to the Sixers’ season thus far.
1. Tyrese Maxey is an early-season MVP candidate.
I have already covered Maxey’s ascension in a prior article, but this is worth mentioning again. Tyrese has not only made a significant jump in his scoring, floor generalship, and overall production, but he has also made himself a topic of NBA conversations across the league. Maxey was always considered one of the promising young talents in the NBA, but no one saw this coming.
Of course, he is playing with the reigning NBA MVP in Joel Embiid, but the argument could be made that the Sixers are 8-1 due to Maxey’s growth from a solid young player, to a bonafide MVP candidate. Yes, I said it. NBA.com recently released an early MVP tracker list and the usual suspects were at the top: Jokic, Embiid, and Jayson Tatum all sat at the top of the list.
Maxey wasn’t on it but no one has impressed more than him thus far in the season. If I had to vote, my vote would be going to Tyrese easily.
2. The Philadelphia 76ers are the best team in the Eastern Conference.
Yes, I know what y’all are gonna say. “But the Bucks have Giannis and Dame.”, “the Boston Celtics may have the best collection of talent compared to any team in the league.” This may be true and when mentioning the Celtics, no argument can be made there. But, even with all the talent named on those aforementioned teams, the Sixers lost by one possession to the Bucks on opening night, and soundly beat the Celtics just a week ago. Don’t let the final score fool you.
The Sixers looked and played like they belonged in the same arena as Boston. For the first time, the pieces that the Sixers threw at Boston actually matched up with them and actually caused them problems from a defensive standpoint. Last year, the Sixers couldn’t make those moves.
This year, it is much different. Philadelphia has more depth than they’ve ever had in the Embiid era. They’ve gotten younger, and faster, and the new play style that Nick Nurse has implemented has catered to the players’ strengths.
And with a schedule strength ranked 25th in the league, the Sixers have a chance to truly run the table this year. By the way, Tobias Harris has looked like a brand-new player who was let off a leash. Contrary to what that Bearded one in L.A. had to say during his bafflegab of an interview.
How’s that trade going for you, Ballmer?
3. Joel Embiid should be leading the MVP race.
Listen, say what you want to say about last year with Embiid winning the NBA MVP over Nikola Jokic when many thought Jokic should’ve won an unprecedented third straight MVP. I thought that Joel was well deserving of the trophy.
Embiid has been playing at an elite level for four years now, and this year has been no letdown or letup of that level, averaging 32.4 points per game, second in the league to Luka’s 32.6 points per game, 11.7 rebs per game, 5.7 assists per game, a career-high, and 2.1 blocks per game.
Safe to say that Joel Embiid has been dominant from the opening week. But for some reason, everyone is enamored with the Serbian Kung-Fu Panda that has taken this generation by storm with his logy movement and style which no one can stop, slicing his opponents apart with a mind that is quicker than his body.
Jokic makes Kyle Anderson’s “Slo-Mo’ moniker look like he moves like an Indy 500 race car. It’s hard to argue when one takes a look at Jokic’s numbers, but Embiid has been right there, and the argument could be made that they are better. However, results matter. Jokic has a championship under his belt. Joel hasn’t been able to get out the second round.
Even with all of the previously mentioned thoughts, Joel Embiid should be leading the MVP conversation. His team has the best record in the league from a percentage standpoint, and as the defending MVP, he deserves that respect.
In the words of Brian Dawkins: “Give me some respect right doggone now!”
These are just overreactions to a small sample size of the season. But, one thing is certain, the 2023-2024 Sixers are no fluke. They are here and the league better be on alert: it’s only going to get better.