If ESPN’s projection models are correct, the Sixers are going to underachieve and achieve at the same time.
In Philadelphia, expectations have been turned up after Markelle Fultz and J.J. Redick arrived this summer. Talk of the playoffs is everywhere. If the Sixers have a losing record and miss out on meaningful basketball in late April or early May, it will be looked at as a disappointing season.
Recently, the Sixers were projected to finished 37-45 by ESPN’s game-by-game model. That’s not good–but good enough to be tied for the final playoff spot in the lowly Eastern Conference. It’s a step up from last year’s 28-win outfit, but probably not enough for a team with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.
A panel of ESPN experts debated the projections–with the Sixers coming in as a team that could both exceed or fall even more below the standard.
Baxter Holmes and Ohm Youngmisuk took the over.
Holmes: Philadelphia 76ers. Top Eastern Conference All-Stars have headed West, and who knows if Kyrie Irving and Carmelo Anthony might soon join them. This feels like the year the Process starts to really pay off for all that promising young talent in Philly. Top pick Markelle Fultz should play with an especially large chip on his shoulder given all the attention No. 2 pick Lonzo Ball is grabbing.
Tom Haberstroh and Chris Herring took the under.
Herring: Philadelphia 76ers. I’d feel more confident about a 37-win, playoff-clinching projection if I knew definitively that Embiid would stay healthy. Without that, I see Philly as a team that is one serious Embiid ailment away from being a club with two primary ball handlers who’ve never played in a meaningful professional game. There will be growing pains, and I think Year 2 of this group might be more realistic for a playoff push than Year 1.
The Sixers will open the 2017-18 NBA season on October 18 in Washington, D.C. against the Wizards.
Joe Giglio may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JoeGiglioSports. Find NJ.com on Facebook.