Philadelphia 76ers: Who is Elton Brand’s fourth homegrown star?

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

In his intro press conference, Elton Brand divulged that the Philadelphia 76ers may already have three-to-four budding superstars on their roster. But who?

Thursday, September 20th was a big day for the Philadelphia 76ers.

After striking out on a number of potential candidates over the summer, the team finally found their general manager to hopefully take the team in for a landing among the elite NBA programs, and it just so happens to be a player with some serious ‘Process’ credentials.

In his introductory press conference with the team, Elton Brand broke down his vision for the franchise moving forward, his relationship with Brett Brown, as well as what it means to have played for the team he now runs, but peppered in with the usual fluff, Brand also delivered a pretty spicy hot take: the 76ers may already have three or even four stars on their roster.

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Now granted, anyone with even the most basic passing knowledge of the NBA probably knows about the Sixers dynamic duo of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, because at this point how could you not, but who are the other two that Brand alluded to in his opening remarks?

Well, the third appears to be fairly obvious: Markelle Fultz.

Though Fultz obviously struggling in his abbreviated rookie campaign, only appearing in only 14 games and having to completely rebuild his shot after a late-summer shoulder injury, though recent videos indicate that he looks finally healthy, it’s entirely possible that he elevates his game a la 2018 Victor Oladipo, and establishes himself as a legitimate two-way combo guard.

But who is the fourth?

Don’t get me wrong, Philly has a bunch of talent, with a top-5 eight-man rotation and a number of incredibly promising young players, but who among them has the potential to become a legitimate star?

Zhaire Smith?

Well that would obviously be a major accomplishment, especially considering that many fans still harbor some ill-will towards the 6-foot-3 shooting guards from Texas Tech after the Sixers traded away hometown favorite Mikal Bridges for his draft rights, as the foot injury that could hold him out until Christmas likely will eliminate him from contention for a star spot, at least right away.

No, for my money the two candidates to become the Sixers’ fourth star have to be Robert Covington and Dario Saric.

Outside of J.J. Redick, a veteran who is simply too old to establish himself as a superstar at the age of 34, nobody had a higher 3-point shooting percentage on the Philadelphia 76ers than Covington, and no one attempted more threes.

Though he’s struggled mightily with inconsistency on offense, even the most grizzled RoCo hater has to admit that the 26-year-old small forward has elevated himself into the elite echelon of NBA defenders, capable of holding it down against virtually anybody 1-through-5, as long as a player isn’t a certified track star like Russell Westbrook.

With another summer of seasoning under his belt, could Covington finally join the conversation with Jimmy Butler and Kawhi Leonard as the best 3-and-D forwards in the league?

And what about Saric?

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after a slow start to his rookie season, likely due to having just got off the European basketball circuit, Saric put in some serious work as the team’s number one scoring option post-Embiid in the spring of 2017, finishing second in Rookie of the Year voting behind only public enemy number one Malcolm Brogdon.

And in 2017-2018, Saric elevated himself again, from a great rookie to a great NBA player, period.

After initially starting the season coming off the bench, Dario quickly entered Brett Brown’s starting-five and established himself as a legitimately formidable power forward, think a poor man’s Minnesota-era Kevin Love.

While playing alongside Simmons certainly had its hiccups, as Saric was often tasked with guarding up a position against more athletic small forwards, The Homie found a way to make it work and delivered a very formidable 14.6 and 6.7 sophomore season.

Now, with another season under his belt, look for Saric to take a big step forward going into season three.

After making a name for himself as a forward in Eurobasket, he has seldom been asked to handle the ball as a pro, a trend that will likely end in Year 3. Sure, he will still likely be asked to modify his game while on the court with Simmons again in 2018, but don’t be surprised to see Saric on the court with his old pal T.J. McConnell on the second unit, filling a very Love-style role as a do it all small-ball point center.

He’s just that good.

So while Philly may have struck out finding a third star in free agency, at least in Brand’s eyes, that’s okay, as a team may have two more players who can elevate themselves to that status in 2018-2019.

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Fast forward one summer we could be looking at the East’s answer to the Golden State Warriors.