The Philadelphia 76ers are in the midst of one of their most exciting starts to a season in franchise history.
After trading James Harden just a few days into the 2023-2024 NBA season, the Philadelphia 76ers are now a team with a free flowing offense and a really creative defense all at the hands of NBA champion coach Nick Nurse.
Nurse has revolutionized the way this team hoops. It’s a system on both ends of the floor revolving around constant movement, intensity and hustle. This team now has the personnel and coaching to fully shift into a modern NBA team on both ends of the floor, something they couldn’t have ever been with Glenn Rivers at the helm.
They currently stand tied at 5th place in the Eastern Conference with the New York Knicks with a record of 12-7 through 19 games. Much of the Sixers early success can be attributed to their newly acquired talent on the wing-Kelly Oubre, Robert Covington, Nic Batum and Marcus Morris. All 4 of these players bring tons of value on the perimeter, both offensively and defensively. The traditional “3&D” archetype fits them quite nicely, as all 4 of these guys provide that kind of value in one way or another.
In the absence of Kelly Oubre, who was struck by a vehicle last month and is reportedly returning this week, the Sixers have been able to give Morris and Covington some extra burn, as well as insert Nic Batum into the starting lineup. It’s really given the Sixers a chance to see what exactly they have with these 3 guys. Batum has been the perfect “glue guy”, hitting threes at an Uber-efficient clip, playing great defense and making solid reads from the wing.
It wouldn’t be a Sixers discussion without bringing up what many believe to be the best duo in the East: Tyrese Maxey and Joel Embiid. These two are off to an electric start to their season. The two have incredible synergy, especially in the pick and roll and in handoffs on the wing. Maxey’s lighting quick speed both on and off the ball gives Embiid plenty of opportunities to hit him in stride for layups or jumpers. Maxey’s handle and poise with the ball makes Embiid’s life a whole lot easier, as Maxey takes some of the attention away from Embiid because Maxey can get to the rim at will and hit jumpers from anywhere.
Joel Embiid is following up last year’s campaign in which he took him an MVP, a scoring title and an All NBA First Team selection. Doing that once is crazy in itself, but what is even crazier is that Joel just might do it again. With the NBA’s new removal of positional restrictions for All NBA teams, Embiid is already a lock for All NBA First team once again. He’s on pace to win the scoring title again as well and he’s right at the top of the NBA MVP ladder.
Despite all this, the Sixers can’t do what they do without him. He IS the ecosystem of this 76ers team. They cannot do what they do if Joel isn’t the player that he is. This isn’t to say he CARRIED them, but it is to say that a lot of what they do on both ends of the floor is contingent on the kind of player Embiid is.
The Sixers may not be title favorites, but they sure have been fun to watch. They aren’t the most talented squad, but as a Sixers fan seeing the freedom at which Nick Nurse has them playing at, it really is a beautiful sight.