Philadelphia 76ers: 2016-2017 Season Predictions

Jul 9, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Philadelphia 76ers forward Jerami Grant (39) talks with forward Ben Simmons (25) during an NBA Summer League game against the Los Angeles Lakers at Thomas & Mack Center. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 9, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Philadelphia 76ers forward Jerami Grant (39) talks with forward Ben Simmons (25) during an NBA Summer League game against the Los Angeles Lakers at Thomas & Mack Center. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports /

The Philadelphia 76ers are still months away from preseason, but expectations for the regular season are already starting to form.

The Philadelphia 76ers are starting an exciting new leg of the rebuild process. Ben Simmons, Dario Saric, Joel Embiid, and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot are four rookies that are set to take this team from bottom-feeder to contender. But that’ll be down the road. For now, the new regime controlling the Philadelphia 76ers will look for some improvement but shouldn’t expect any drastic run.

The main focus of this season will revolve around Ben Simmons. Not surprising, as the top overall pick will unsurprisingly continue to receive a spotlight like no one else in his draft class. The Philadelphia 76ers won’t just be focusing on the play of Simmons, but how the roster morphs around him. A franchise changing player in Simmons forces a team to fit talent that complements him.

Thus far, the Philadelphia 76ers have done so by signing Jerryd Bayless and Sergio Rodriguez. The biggest question, however, is how one of Nerlens Noel or Jahlil Okafor play alongside Simmons. This may determine who stays and who is traded. The big man situation will continue to be debated, but in the short term it shouldn’t affect the team negatively. 

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Regular Season Record: 24-58

The Philadelphia 76ers winning 24 games would be a whopping 14-game improvement and the first time the team reaches 20 wins under the Brett Brown era. The large improvement is due in large part to the increased talent influx, more depth, and increased veteran presence. Veteran presence is often over talked about, but for the past few seasons the Philadelphia 76ers have had a roster full of inexperience. The added experience of winning and losing from Gerald Henderson and Jerryd Bayless will help guide the young roster through rough stretches.

It’s not just the veteran presence. Ben Simmons may be the most talented player to walk through the Philadelphia 76ers organization since Allen Iverson. Dario Saric has proven he can play amongst NBA-level players. Joel Embiid is still giving off flashes of greatness in training. The fact is, this team is more talented and well-rounded than any other team Brett Brown has seen in his time in Philadelphia.

This will allow Brett Brown to watch his crafty offense come together with more fluidity. The roster is starting to lean towards a fast past offense that can spread the floor, exactly what Brown has been preaching all this time. The inside out game, led by Simmons, will force defenses to switch on and off the ball with more frequency. Simmons driving to the lane will pull defenders towards him, freeing up shooters on the outside.

A high-powered offense will allow for the Philadelphia 76ers to win with some more frequency than in the past. What will keep them grounded is the shaky ability to defend in the half-court, something that has plagued them in past years. There are still many questions about the defense of players like Jahlil Okafor, Dario Saric, and Ben Simmons.

24-58 may be a bit optimistic, but the signs are pointing towards undoubtable improvement.

Leading Scorer: Robert Covington – 16.0 points per game

Robert Covington led the Philadelphia 76ers in scoring in the 2014-15 season (excluding Tony Wroten and Michael Carter-Williams, who averaged more but played less than half the season for the team). Covington lost that title with high scoring rookie Jahlil Okafor putting up great rookie scoring numbers.

Now is the perfect opportunity for Covington to regain the title. With Okafor facing more minute battles with a talented but deep front court, Covington can put up some high scoring numbers. The  3-point shot will, like always, be what decides the success or failure of his season. With Simmons creating more opportunities on offense and forcing defensive lineups to shift due to his size, it should free up Covington for more open outside shots. It will also allow for him to have favorable match-ups against smaller defenders.

There will be a battle for Covington however, as Saric and Jerami Grant could find themselves minutes at the small forward position. Nonetheless, Covington’s offense and defensive length should secure him the most minutes at the position. Simmons at the point forward affects the small forward position with more positivity than any other position.

Projecting Rookies

Ben Simmons- 12.0 ppg., 7.0 apg., 5 reb.

Ben Simmons will give the Philadelphia 76ers a nice amount of double-doubles, but the scoring won’t come as easy as it did for Okafor. Simmons’ game is centered around his passing, which accounts for the 7 assists per game prediction. The star-factor for Simmons cannot be ignored, however, and he will show us some big performances that should boost his final scoring numbers.

The biggest stat the Philadelphia 76ers will be watching for is the assist to turnover ratio. Limiting turnovers will allow for Simmons to look more favorable in the eyes of rookie of the year voters. If you were wondering, these numbers would be more than enough to allow Simmons to go home with the franchise’s 3rd ever ROY winner. It would also be enough to don him the team’s season MVP.

Dario Saric – 7.0 ppg., 4.0 apg., 4.0 reb

Dario Saric is a jack of all traits on offense. His newly developed outside game allows him to frustrate traditional power forwards while his energy will keep him in pace with smaller stretch fours. The transition passing will account for most of Saric’s assist numbers, while the decent rebound numbers will all have to come off the bench.

Saric’s outside shooting and defense are two aspects that the Philadelphia 76ers will be eyeing. A consistent outside shot could give the team a new small forward for the future. That won’t come without improved defense. Keeping up with NBA small forwards will be the toughest task. Saric did well defending against Giannis Antetokounmpo during the qualifying tournament, but there are still much quicker forwards Saric would face.

Saric’s low-post defense could also allow for Saric to be used in more of a everyday starting lineup. Saric has improved as a shot-blocker and has shown a commitment to standing his ground down low. Defensive versatility is something that earned Jerami Grant a favorable role in the lineup last season, and Saric could do the same to some extent, but with a more impressive offensive attack.

Joel Embiid – 8.0 ppg., 2.0 apg., 6 reb

The Philadelphia 76ers finally have Joel Embiid ready to go. The problem with predicting Embiid’s rookie season is the unknown minutes/game restrictions he’ll have due to his past injury problems. Embiid is a natural scorer however, so the points will come in bunches when he’s in.

Clearly, what the Philadelphia 76ers will be focusing on is mitigating injury risk for Embiid. He has had two seasons to recover from two surgeries, but he is still just 22-years of age. It will be up to the franchise to ease in Embiid and allow him to enjoy a very long, and good, career.

Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot – 6.0 ppg., 2.0 apg., 3 reb

Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot’s main goal this season is to solidify himself as one of the Philadelphia 76ers’ most versatile bench players. His length and scoring are known, but taking care of the ball and switching off screens will be what foreshadows his career as an NBA player.

TLC will look to make his own impact off the bench in what will set to be a very quick second unit led by Sergio Rodriguez.

Who Get’s Traded Mid-Season? Noel or Okafor?

No one. The Philadelphia 76ers’ window to make a favorable trade involving Noel or Okafor is closing quickly. Noel’s expiring contract is getting less attractive as each day passes and Okafor’s value seemingly fluctuates with each GM across the league.

This does give the two more time to prove themselves. Earning minutes will be a lot tougher, as the two will battle to earn their playing time. As stated before, it will all come down to who can play with Simmons more effectively. It could go either way. Noel’s athletic ability gives Simmons an easy lob target, while Okafor’s post ability gives Simmons a safety valve around the rim.

Extra Predictions

  • Sergio Rodriguez will earn himself a second contract, giving the team a pacey backup.
  • Brett Brown will gain more of a favorable view from the general media.
  • The Lakers pick will not fall out of the top 3.
  • The team will be searching to gain another pick in this upcoming draft.
  • Nik Stauskas‘ role will diminish to almost nothing.
  • Perimeter defense will be the team’s biggest weakness.

Next: Role Of Sergio Rodriguez

It will be an exciting season for the Philadelphia 76ers. A lot will be hinging on various factors, and it will be Bryan Colangelo’s first full season in charge. The rebuild process is a fragile one, but it is looking like its roots will have a stronger hold. Another lottery year for the Philadelphia 76ers, but one that beams with more positivity.