The Philadelphia 76ers have not been relevant in basketball for some time now. Ever since their last playoff appearance in 2012, the 76ers have been going nowhere fast. In fact, the 76ers have been more known for Trusting The Process than anything thanks to Sam Hinkie. Well, after all that suffering, there was some hope shown to the Philadelphia fans last year in the form of Joel Embiid. With him finally able to get on the court, the talented big man showed just what he has been working on in his two years absent from the court. He showed a nice touch from the perimeter, solid post moves and he also brought a bit of excitement to the organization. Unfortunately, that joy that he brought was short-lived, as Embiid got hurt after only 31 games last season. But with that, it showed a little glimpse of what could be in Philly. Along with Embiid, Dario Saric showed up last season in Philly and played very well while showing versatility in his game. Embiid and Saric are obviously going to be keys to the 76ers, but two players that have yet to play a regular season game may actually be even more key to this team than those two big men.
Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz are very talented players that have Philly buzzing. The 76ers took Simmons with the first overall pick in 2016 with the thought of him being a game-changing player. As for Fultz, he was considered the guy that had the least holes in his game and with a point guard dominated NBA, he was definitely one that could fit the bill at that spot. There is only one issue though: the team already has a point guard there. Many wondered what position Simmons would be playing when he entered the NBA. Some saw him as a power forward and others saw him as a small forward, but the 76ers had a different vision. We never got to see him on the court last season because of injury, but the 76ers have said that he is going to be the point guard of this 76ers team. Imagine seeing a guy like Simmons, who some say is 7 foot tall now, dribbling the ball up the court and running the offense. With his vision and basketball IQ, he could definitely make some things happen for his team. Shooters like Robert Covington and JJ Reddick should benefit from having a guy like Simmons that has shown the propensity to find people going back to his college days at LSU. So with Simmons being announced as the point guard earlier and him still saying that he is the point guard of the 76ers where does that leave Fultz?
The 76ers traded up this year for Fultz and made him the first player drafted. The dynamic point guard from the University of Washington showed everyone what he could do despite the Huskies not doing as well as some thought they might. With that type of talented and Simmons, now the 76ers have two point guards that can control the flow of the game. But the question is, how to do they put both Simmons and Fultz’s skills on full display and in the best light? Well, one thing that is good about this pairing is the size disparity. Simmons can actually start for the 76ers at power forward alongside Embiid and play the point forward position. Fultz could essentially give him the basketball at the extended high post position and allow Simmons to run the offense through him at that vantage point. With Simmons running the offense from that position, that will allow Fultz to work off the ball, running off screens and attacking the paint. Not only will Fultz be coming off those screens and attacking the rim to score, but he will draw the defense which will allow him to find Reddick and Covington for shots along with finding Embiid hovering around the rim.
Simmons will more than likely be the focal point of the offense when he is on the court, but when he takes a seat, that is when the offense shifts to Fultz and is fully under his control. The ideal offense with Fultz at the controls is the pick-and-roll. More than likely Dario Saric will be the guy that is involved in the pick-and-roll with Fultz. Dario is so versatile that he can pick-and-pop for jumpers or three-pointers or he can roll to the rim and finish. Also, those pick-and-rolls will open up shots again for the shooters that Philly has once Fultz is able to penetrate the defense. Another thing that will probably happen with Fultz more at the controls is more fast break offense. Fultz has the uncanny ability to get to the basket and finish either around or over people with his size at the point guard spot (Fultz is listed as 6’4″). For those that are drawing a comparison to how Brown could use Fultz in the early going, just take a look at someone that came up in the Spurs system: Tony Parker. But the difference is that Fultz is bigger and can shoot better than Parker could at this point.
The FEDS as they are called (Fultz, Embiid, Dario and Simmons) are considered the building blocks for the Philadelphia 76ers as they try to turn things around for their franchise. Sure, they have all the talent in the world to make it happen along with more shooting this season. But the key thing will be health, not only for Embiid but Simmons and all the core of this team. The East is wide open and the 76ers could realistically make a run for the playoffs if they do stay healthy. But for as important as Embiid and his health are, the more important thing is those bookends of the FEDS that are tasked to lead the 76ers. They definitely should be interesting to watch this season with the talent they have on their roster.
The General Mike Patton is an up-and-coming writer from Nashville, TN who brings a fresh and non-biased opinion about sports. From his radio experience in Nashville to his time as a sports writer for Free’s World, the website for radio personality and former co-host of BET’s 106 and Park Free (www.freesworld.com), The General is definitely one you want to get to know in the sports world. You can catch his work on SPORTSAWAKENING.COM. Mike grew up rooting for the San Francisco 49ers, Chicago Bulls, and Chicago Cubs and remains a passionate sports fan who expresses intelligent opinions.