Sixerdelphia Roundtable: Five Questions for the Upcoming 76ers Season

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With only 21 days until the Philadelphia 76ers' regular season begins, Sixerdelphia managing editor Matt Gregan and staff writers Kevin McCormick, Scott Cashin and Bill Gorman take a stab at answering five questions regarding the upcoming season.


How many All-Stars will the 76ers have this season?

The 76ers will have three All-Stars this season: Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris. Embiid and Simmons are the two obvious ones. I'm a big believer in Harris for this upcoming season. After struggling post-trade with Philadelphia towards the end of last season, he should bounce back to his usual form. I expect him to average near 20 points per game and shoot over 40% from beyond the arc while also stepping into the team's closer role late in games. - Matt Gregan

Realistically I think two, but there is a chance that the 76ers can have three All-Stars this season. Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid are almost locks as All-Stars again this year in the Eastern Conference. Tobias Harris has a chance to be that third All-Star but it all depends on how big of a step forward he takes in the team's offense this season. - Kevin McCormick

Two – same as last season – Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, with Embiid named as a starter. Kyrie Irving will get enough votes to displace Simmons from the starting lineup. - Scott Cashin

Given the loss of All-Stars Kawhi Leonard and D’Angelo Russell, as well as the uncertain health of Victor Oladipo, it is hard to imagine that Joel Embiid (likely as a starter) and Ben Simmons (as a reserve) will fail to make the cut from the East. Given the right conditions (big start for both the team and the player), Tobias Harris may also want to keep his schedule clear for the third weekend in February as well. - Bill Gorman

Who will be the 76ers' most improved player? 

Statistically speaking: Tobias Harris. In 27 games as a member of the 76ers, Harris shot a meager 32.6% from 3-point range. Over the previous two seasons (including the majority of the 2018-19 season he spent with the Los Angeles Clippers before the trade that sent him to Philadelphia), he was a 41.9% shooter from deep. His role in the offense was limited playing as the fourth option. This season, he will have an increased role in the offense due to the subtraction of Jimmy Butler and, as a result, he should be able to flourish. Add in the fact his shooting efficiency should progress back to where it usually is and he is all set to be one of the team's most improved players. - Matt Gregan

In terms of how they did last year I say Tobias Harris. Now that he will be a bigger focal point in the offense and will be given more shots on a nightly basis, I see him improving greatly from his time with the 76ers last season. – Kevin McCormick

While I am hopeful that the most improved player will be Ben Simmons as a result of adding a solid outside shot, I think it will be Tobias Harris. He has a history of improving his game each season throughout his career. I think Simmons will attempt more outside shots, but they will fall at a rate of “below average” when compared to the league average, which will be taken as a negative instead of the positive that it really is just based on him taking any jumpers at all. – Scott Cashin

Zhaire Smith. After a nightmare 2018-19 season in which he broke his foot, was accidentally poisoned by the training staff, lost forty pounds and nearly died, it would be difficult to imagine his 2019-20 campaign could go much worse. That said, his combination of wingspan and quickness will make him a nightmare for perimeter players on the defensive end, and he could provide just enough shooting and cutting ability to open the offense up for the centerpieces Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. He showed some flashes in a very brief run at the end of last season, averaging 6.7 points, 2.2 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 18.5 minutes per game. He will compete with rookie Matisse Thybulle and the presumed first guard/forward off the bench, James Ennis III, for minutes as the season progresses. – Bill Gorman

Which 76ers player has the most to gain this season?

The answer is easily Ben Simmons. If he starts shooting jumpers this season, his entire game will be improved and he will truly become one of the NBA's elite players. He already possesses excellent defensive abilities and excellent passing and court vision. Adding a jumper to his game is the last, and the most important, piece he needs to add to his game. - Matt Gregan

I would say Joel Embiid has the most to gain this season. If the reports are true that he has lost 25 pounds this offseason, he is ready to take the next step. If he comes into the season in the best shape of his career and is able to play more games in the regular season, he could insert himself into the top tier of NBA elite. - Kevin McCormick

Josh Richardson will be on a contending team for the first time in his professional career and has a chance to show the casual fan just how valuable he can be with his defensive abilities and all-around offensive game. - Scott Cashin

Jonah Bolden. Entering the final guaranteed year of his contract, Bolden is going to try to work his way into the rotation as the first big man off the bench. If he can solve his propensity to foul everything in sight (5.6 fouls per 36 minutes in his rookie year), he has the quickness and size to be a defender with the ability to switch onto most offensive players. Combined with his ability to shoot (35.4% from 3-point range in his rookie year, eighth among rookies with at least 40 games) and his aggressiveness on the offensive glass, a full year of improvement from Bolden could be a huge relief for head coach Brett Brown as he searches for ways to ensure Joel Embiid’s minutes are properly managed. – Bill Gorman

Which 76ers player has the most to lose this season?

While I chose Ben Simmons to be the 76ers player with the most to gain this season, I also think he has the most to lose as well. I am leaning towards the side of him beginning to take jumpers this season, something that would elevate his game to the next level. However, if another season goes by without him adding that crucial piece to his game, I am not sure if he ever will. He would have been in the league for three seasons and still have not added a jumper to his arsenal. - Matt Gregan

Ben Simmons after all of the workouts we saw this summer of him working on his jumper and signing a max extension. If the season rolls around and he is not shooting as much as people would like, it could lead to the fan base turning on him for good. - Kevin McCormick

Financially speaking it is Ben Simmons. With the recent cap projection from the league shrinking by $2 million, Simmons’s money on his upcoming contract appears to be decreasing compared to what was initially thought. If he can get named to an All-NBA team, he will bump up his Rookie Extension to a higher value depending on which team he makes. - Scott Cashin

Trey Burke. Once the No. 9 overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, ahead of players such as Giannis Antetokounmpo, CJ McCollum, Steven Adams and Rudy Gobert, Burke is now on his fifth team in seven NBA seasons.  To say he is running out of chances to prove his worth understates his situation. He is on a veteran minimum deal, and many fans are expecting him to be the primary backup to Ben Simmons at the point guard position this season.  If he is going to be a significant contributor to the 76ers this season, he will need to improve his outside shooting (just 33.7% on 86 attempted catch and shoot threes in 2018-19, which was 190th among all players with at least 86 attempts last season).  He will also need to drastically improve defensively: In just one season has his team been better defensively with him on the floor versus when he was on the bench. - Bill Gorman

What is your prediction for the 76ers in this upcoming season?

This year's 76ers team has all the talent they could ask for. I expect them to win at least 55 games and be within the top two seeds in the Eastern Conference. When it comes to the playoffs, I think the only thing that held back the team last season was a lack of chemistry. This year, the team has the entire season to gel and build chemistry. If they do not make an NBA Finals appearance, I would consider it a bust for the 76ers. - Matt Gregan

I believe that the 76ers have a really strong chance of being the top team in the Eastern Conference and making a serious run at an NBA Championship this season. – Kevin McCormick

While the team has the ability to win 65 games this season, I anticipate an organizational approach focused on health and chemistry going into the playoffs, which will require regular rest for both Joel Embiid and Al Horford. 54 wins for the 2019-20 “load management” 76ers. - Scott Cashin

I see the 76ers going 56-26 on the season, finishing second in the Eastern Conference behind the Milwaukee Bucks, but beating them in the Eastern Conference Finals. - Bill Gorman

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