The Sixers sit two games ahead in the Eastern Conference and are undefeated when their starting lineup all play.
This is despite being decimated for multiple games due to COVID and having a new lineup and coaching staff with limited practices to figure things out.
The Sixers are passing the eye test. The vibes are awesome and guys genuinely look to be enjoying playing together. They’ve done the reverse Sixers (coming back from 21 point deficits without their best player) and are playing some fun fluent basketball.
What Daryl Morey and co have done to get the roster from the depressing point of post bubble, where the roster looked completely screwed with awful contracts and poor fitting pieces, to where they are now is UNREAL.
He has done this whilst maintaining the majority of their future assets and an 8.2 million dollar trade exception. Whilst things feel great now, the likes of Brooklyn, Boston and Milwaukee are coming and will be no walkovers come playoff time. Not to mention what awaits them should they get through East. These teams will all be looking to improve prior to the March 25th trade deadline.
The Sixers will also be looking to improve their roster and are well positioned for some more Morey Magic prior to the deadline. They have a genuine chance to win the championship this year, and Daryl obviously recognises this. However Joel Embiid, is only 26, his prime is likely to last another five years. Whilst the prime years of big men are historically shorter than most, Joel now appears to be fully committed to getting the most out of his body. After the recent Minnesota game he indicated his conditioning is not even 50% of where it will be, as he continues to put the work in to build on this.
Betting agencies currently have the Sixers slightly above an 8% chance to win the championship this year, the fifth highest in the NBA. The challenge is boosting this 8% whilst improving or at least not compromising their chances over the next five years.
A 10-20% chance of winning a championship over five years is much better than a 25-30% for one year then 0-5% for the remaining four.
Ben Simmons is contracted for five years. Imagine the natural talents of Simmons and Embiid as savvy vets when they get into their late twenties! They have Shake Milton (three years), Matisse Thybulle (three years) and Tyrese Maxey (five years) locked up on cheap contracts and all expected to continue to develop. Tobias Harris has been living up to his massive contract recently (four years) and he is one of the best locker room guys in the NBA. Seth Curry continues to look awesome for this team at around eight million for the next three years.
There are some serious players that could become available prior to the trade deadline, but it’s important the Sixers don’t throw most of their assets at expiring guys who are more unlikely than likely to re-sign in the off-season.
Whilst the Sixers are contenders now, they have a roster that gives them an opportunity to be contenders for the next five years, and this is what they need to maximise. They absolutely need to be all in, but all in for a long time to come.
Keep an eye out every Wednesday in the lead up the March 25th trade deadline, we’ll be taking a look at some realistic trade options and analysis.