Will team establish an offensive or defensive identity?
Last season, the Philadelphia 76ers developed a sturdy defense with Embiid as the main force. Will the team improve on their leading strength from last year, or will the offensive become the focal point?
After a strong stretch last year in which the potential of a lethal defense was put on display, the Philadelphia 76ers have a solid foundation in which to build on thanks to Joel Embiid. With him on the court, the team showcased one of the top defenses in the league. Simmons and Fultz will likely need time to adjust to the league, so expect the season to start off focused on growing the defense around Embiid.
To anticipate the defense to mirror its peak form from 2016-2017 from day 1 would be foolish. No matter how talented a player is, there will be an adjustment period for rookies as they learn to adapt to guarding NBA players. Fultz and Simmons have the physical tools and athleticism to be plus defenders, but that will take some time.
With Fultz and Redick in the backcourt, the team may face breakdowns where opposing ball handlers can make it into the paint with little problem. But that’s where having one of the best interior defenders in the NBA comes in handy. Embiid should and will be the focal point of the team from the start of the season because of his ability to control the defensive and mold the opposing defenses attempting to guard him.
Offensively, the team may be very unpredictable. On one hand, the two primary ball handlers have 0 regular season experience and Simmons has yet to show proof of a viable jumper. On the other hand, both him and Fultz are immensely talented and have passing instincts that make scouts drool. Both struggled to limit turnovers during the summer league, but that will come with experience.
Another question mark heading into the season is how will the two rookies play with their new teammates. After playing with lackluster teammates at LSU and Washington, they will have to learn how to lean on and improve the team as opposed to putting everything on their shoulders. For this reason, expect Redick to start the season off slow. While the sharpshooter is a talented player, he is best when others create an open shot off the pass for him. Chemistry for this team will take time, but once Fultz learns how to work with Redick and maximize each others skill set, the team will be scary.
For this reason, the Philadelphia 76ers will start off the season defensive-minded but end as an offensive team. The team will rely on Embiid as the foundation for a strong defense to start the year, but as the chemistry improves and everyone establishes a role, the offense will become the focal point. Having play makers like Fultz, Simmons, and Saric paired up with shooters like Redick, Covington, Stauskas, and even Embiid is a recipe for success.
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