It’s the beginning of a long offseason for the Philadelphia 76ers. Fresh off yet another disappointing playoff upset, this time at the hands of the 5th-seeded Atlanta Hawks, Daryl Morey and the rest of the front office will be looking to shake up next year’s roster, in a big way.
Over the next few months, specifically tonight’s draft, there will be plenty of storylines to follow.
Here are the top three questions heading into the offseason:
1. Will Ben Simmons be a 76er this season?
The biggest topic, both in the city and nationally, is that of Ben Simmons.
The 25-year-old all-star has been heavily scrutinized over his play in the second round of the 2021 playoffs.
For a few years now, it seems as though a lot of the fanbase seems to have soured on Simmons, due to his lack of offensive improvement, and following his horrid performance versus the Hawks, it seems as though some of the team and front office members have as well.
Simmons is such a unique player. His abilities to control the pace of a game, attack the paint, defend 1 through 5, and create open looks for his teammates are rare. However, his inability–or reluctance–to shoot the ball has plagued this team in the playoffs 3 of the last 4 seasons.
For the rest of the offseason, and quite frankly, the remainder of his time in Philadelphia will be headline after headline and trade rumor after trade rumor.
Daryl Morey has stated that he will not get rid of Ben Simmons unless it is for an all-star level talent or the offer blows them (the Philadelphia front office) out of the water. The more popular trade candidates do include Portland’s Damian Lillard, Washington’s Bradley Beal, and Chicago’s Zach Lavine.
Whether Simmons gets traded or not is still up in the air, but this appears to be a divorce that is a matter of when, not if.
2. Will Joel Embiid get a Super-Max extension?
After being selected to the All-NBA second team this season – which we all know was just plain ridiculous – Joel Embiid officially qualified for the super-max, four year, up to $190 million contract.
The big question is now, will the oft-injured superstar get that contract offer? Some would argue his injury history, lack of postseason team success, positional value, and shelf life of a 7 footer against that offer.
However, what Embiid has done when available, for the city, and for this team can’t go unnoticed.
After a scary fall versus the Washington Wizards, in the first round, it was assumed he was done for the rest of the postseason. Surprisingly, Embiid returned game 1 of the semi-finals series and averaged 30.4 points, 12.7 rebounds, and 3.9 assists on a partially torn meniscus.
Those numbers, healthy or unhealthy, are unreal. You can argue that Joel Embiid is a top 5 player in this league, and if it wasn’t for his midseason bone bruise, would’ve been MVP.
Embiid loves the city of Philadelphia. I strongly believe that he would sign the extension, if given the opportunity. However, I also believe he would wait to see what happens with Ben Simmons before signing.
Keep an eye on that development.
3. Who should the pick be at #28?
With the 2021 NBA Draft on Thursday, I listed three prospects that the 76ers should be interested in, if they do end up keeping the 28th pick.
Ayo Dosunmu (G) – Illinois
Dosunmu is a 6’5 combo guard with a 6’10 wingspan. He averaged 20.1 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 5.3 assists per game on efficient shooting splits of 49-39-78. He is a big bodied guard that can defend 1 through 3 and occasional 4s, with elite athleticism.
He has the ability to score on all three levels and is a willing defender. His biggest knocks are that he is a streaky shooter and his overall shot selection.
Dosunmu would be a great fit for this 76ers team if he manages to fall to 28.
Tre Mann (G) – Florida
My favorite, non-lottery guard, Mann is a 6’5, lanky guard that can score with the best of them. After a rough freshman year at Florida, Mann seemed to turn the corner as a sophomore, leading the Gators to the second round of the NCAA tournament.
Mann is a skilled shooter off the dribble, who hit 40.2% of his attempts from three and 83% from the line this past season. His size is an issue, being that he is only 178 pounds. He’ll also need to improve on the defensive end, but with that, it’s more effort rather than ability.
For a team that lacked shot creating guards, Mann would be an excellent pickup for the 76ers.
Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (PF) – Villanova
One of the biggest issues for the 76ers in 2021 was their bench. Outside of Tyrese Maxey and Matisse Thybulle, the 76ers did not have reliable backups – especially at the front court positions. Robinson-Earl fits the bill as a two-way player that can spell Tobias Harris at the 4 spot.
While he didn’t shoot well from three last season –28%– his form and 3 attempts per game, make me believe that it will be a strength moving forward. He will need to prove that he can defend wings and stretch 4s at the next level, but Robinson-Earl is a complete offensive player that can rebound and pass the ball.
Early on in his career, he should work primarily as the pick-and-pop big or spot up 4 off the bench.
With the NBA draft tonight, and the rest of the summer to go, these storylines will only continue. But make no mistake, this 76ers team will look very different come October.