NBA Team #3: Philadelphia 76ers
The 76ers have been in this conversation for a while now. In the past five years, they have never been able to build a team around Joel Embiid that made it past the second round of the playoffs. For a while, Ben Simmons was the scapegoat. He hit the brakes on the 76ers’ postseason success, but that excuse is not good enough anymore. Embiid is All-Star co-star number two now, and James Harden already wants to leave.
The MVP, however, wants to win, and I wouldn’t blame him if he didn’t believe that the 76ers could give him that opportunity. Tyrese Maxey is the only reliable high-level piece they have put around him, and he hasn’t been offered an extension yet. Time is running out to build a contender in Philadelphia. Without a committed Harden or another All-Star-level player, that will be difficult to do next season, which puts everyone who was involved in trading for Harden in a tough spot.
Embiid has said publicly that he wants to win a championship, and even if Harden plays for the 76ers next season, he might not be enough to get them over the hump. The rest of the league will be watching and waiting for the 76ers to construct another early playoff exit, putting together trade packages in case Embiid decides that he wants to play somewhere else.
If next season does not go well, the 76ers might very well risk losing the reigning MVP.