It seems like just yesterday that we Sixers fans were slowly getting our hearts ripped out when they were upset in Game 7 at home vs the Hawks 103-96. One thing I have always loved about the NBA is that it moves fast. Summer league has already come and gone and the NBA wastes no time in announcing the schedule for the 2021-2022 season. The Sixers got a pretty favorable schedule in terms of national attention as the Sixers have 27 nationally televised games, which ranks 9th in the NBA. With the schedules out it’s obviously time for predictions, so here are 3 bold predictions for the 2021-2022 season.
1. The Sixers go undefeated in the Month of October
If people remember during the 2019-2020 season the Sixers were actually the last team in the NBA to lose a game by starting 6-0 (Thanks to Furkan’s epic game-winner). I believe they have a shot at doing that again this season. The Sixers have 6 games in the month of October, they are @Pelicans, @Thunder, Pistons, Nets, @Knicks, and Hawks. In that stretch of 6 games, there is only 1 that I see the Sixers losing and that is home vs the Brooklyn Nets. Of course, Knicks fans will argue that they will take the game in New York but all you have to do is send them this picture and it should shut them up.
A revenge game at home vs the Hawks should get the crowd fired up. While I’ll be the first one to say that the Nets could easily come in and just light up the Wells Fargo Center, the sixers boasted the best home record in the eastern conference and 2nd in the NBA at 29-7 last year, so I don’t see them losing a home game this early. A fast start is also very crucial to the Sixers this year. As I have stated they are not the most talented team in the conference, so once again home-court advantage is pivotal. A fast start is always important for any team but the Sixers should have a large chip on their shoulders for how things ended last season. I see Doc Rivers’ squad feeling a little extra motivated and coming out hot to start the 2021-2022 season.
2. Georges Niang will Eventually Win the backup Center position
If you are a casual NBA fan then you probably don’t even know who Niang is. Niang is a 6’7 PF who can shoot the lights out the ball and is everything you want in a small-ball center in today’s NBA. Niang over the past 3 years has improved his numbers in almost every single category. The most important one being 3pt%. Over the last 3 seasons, Niang has shot over 40% from 3, and when Embiid is out he can fill in that small ball 5 role alongside Ben Simmons and spread out the floor. Niang fits perfectly with Ben Simmons’ play style. A pace and space type guy that can knock down the catch and shoot 3 and defend multiple positions. Of course, this will also open up the paint for Ben Simmons, something that Dwight Howard couldn’t do.
Most fans think Andre Drummond is the right choice. I truly believe that Daryl Morey and Co. made this move thinking Ben Simmons would not be on the team. Drummond and Simmons’s on-court compatibility is as bad as Horford and Embiids. With Simmons still on the roster for the foreseeable future, it is Doc Rivers’ job to figure out how to maximize Embiid and Simmons’ potential when they are on the court.
There will be a bunch of games where Embiid will sit out due to load management and in those games, I have no issue with Drummond starting due to his capability of stuffing the stat sheet and being an elite defender. Yet, if Embiid is off and Simmons is still on the floor, there should be no reason Drummond touches the court. Niang should be the guy.
3. The Sixers trade Tobias Harris at the Trade Deadline
While Ben Simmons got around 99% of the blame for the Sixers not making the Eastern Conference Finals, the 180 million dollar man did live up to his contract either. This is overlooked because Harris had probably his best season as a pro, averaging 19.5ppg on 51.2% from the field, almost 40% from 3, and a career-high in assists per game. But, in games, 5-7 in the Hawks series Tobias averaged 17.3ppg, 7.7rb, and 3.3A, on a putrid 34.5 FG% and 30.8 3pt%. The reason I think he is the one to go is that I have a great feeling Harris is going to ball out in the regular season once again. If he does, his stock will be at an all-time high and Morey will look to trade him for someone who can actually close out games.
Possible trade targets are: CJ McCollum, Buddy Hield, Malcolm Brogdon, and a sleeper for you is Brandon Ingram. Most of these players simply fit Embiid and Simmon’s on-court abilities better. Although Tobias is clearly exceptional off the court locker room presence his stock will never reach these heights again. We all know if the Sixers don’t make it far in the playoffs once again, that 180 million dollar contract becomes one of the worst in the NBA. A deal involving Harris is unlikely, but if the opportunity presents itself, don’t be shocked if Daryl Morey pulls the trigger.
Do you agree or disagree? Drop your boldest predictions in the comments