I really didn’t want to write a 76ers preview before the inevitable Ben Simmons trade, but alas, the season is almost upon us and BS is still on the roster. I don’t practice santeria … I ain’t got no crystal ball, but there are some safe assumptions I can make for Philly as they part ways with Simmons. The most obvious is that Joel Embiid is the undisputed focal point of the team. He is hungry for a deep postseason run and perhaps some individual hardware after finishing second in MVP voting and being upset by the Hawks in the conference semifinals. Aside from his continued dominance and Tobias Harris’s reliability, there are few guarantees on this roster heading into the 2021-22 season. Notwithstanding the unknowns, here are the things to consider when looking at the 76ers for your fantasy draft and beyond.
- Starters and Fantasy Relevant Depth
|Joel Embiid||Tobias Harris||Danny Green||Seth Curry||Tyrese Maxey|
|Andre Drummond||Georges Niang||Matisse Thybulle||Furkan Korkmaz||Shake Milton|
|Paul Reed||Jaden Springer|
- 2020-21 Record: 49-23
Frontcourt: For now, Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris are the two mainstays on this roster. Embiid is borderline unstoppable and the MVP race would have been a dead heat between Nikola Jokic and Embiid had the latter not missed 21 games. Though he’s never done much to allay our injury concerns, all indications point to Embiid being highly motivated to stay on the court. The expectation is that he will play in both ends of the 76ers’ 13 back-to-back sets. Again, we have to suspend disbelief until we see it happen. He could be headed for a top-five finish.
Tobias Harris upped his defensive game last season, finishing 28th overall in nine-category formats. His reputation for putting up boring numbers precedes him, but it’s the consistency and durability that make him a linchpin for fantasy squads. Unlike last season, you won’t get him at a bargain if you’re playing in Yahoo (ranked 18) or ESPN (ranked 37). There are concerns about his ability to sustain his defensive numbers from 2020-21, as well as the sky-high shooting percentages (51/39/89). If he continues to fire up fewer threes, the shooting percentages should carry over into this season. The staying power of his D stats is more difficult to gauge. Understand that you’re taking a risk in drafting him where he’s currently ranked, as those numbers may revert back to the underwhelming mean for Harris’s career.
Andre Drummond is in town, but before you select him at 96 (Yahoo’s current rank), keep in mind that he’s backing up Embiid (31 MPG last season). Yes, Embiid will miss games at some point, but that doesn’t make Drummond automatically worthy of an eighth-round pick in 12-teamers. This is especially true when you can find starting centers (e.g. Jakob Poeltl) also ranked in that vicinity.
Wings: Defense is the priority when considering Sixer wings. Danny Green is a back-end 12-team league selection if you’re in the hunt for a near 1/1/1 player with guard eligibility. With Green turning 35 in June, it’s possible that Matisse Thybulle could play more than last season’s 20 minutes per-game allotment. Those 20 minutes were all he needed to average 1.6 steals and 1.1 blocks in 65 games, so even a slight bump in minutes would make him a must-roster player. Even without a minutes increase for Thybulle, he’s someone to consider late in 12-team drafts if you need defensive balance.
Backcourt: While his days as a Sixer are numbered, Ben Simmons likely won’t appear on any other team previews, so I’ll profile him here. It is hard to imagine him performing worse for any of his potential suitors (Wolves, Pacers, Cavs, Pistons, Raptors, Spurs as of this writing) than he did in 2020-21. After finishing as the 36th ranked player in nine-category formats in 2019-20, he dropped to 97th last season behind significant decreases in points, rebounds, assists, and FG%. A change of scenery is likely what he needs to get back to form, and he should be relied upon as the creator regardless of where he ends up. There is a massive divergence between his ranking in Yahoo (84) and ESPN (30), with ESPN likely basing their rankings on points formats. Assuming he doesn’t miss too many games to start the season, 84 is way too late for Simmons. He’s the perfect guard for a punt FT% strategy, but he can help just about any build so long as you’re not negating a high volume FT% stud by selecting him.
With the current void at PG and on the heels of his outstanding play in two summer league games, Tyrese Maxey is on every watchlist. It’s important to remember that the Sixers will most likely trade Simmons for another PG, so there’s a strong possibility that Maxey still comes off the bench this season. However, he demonstrated the ability to rise to the occasion as a score-first guard when given starts last season, so he’s worth taking a chance on in 12-team drafts if the Simmons saga isn’t resolved by mid-October. His rookie per-36 averages were 19 points, 4 rebounds, 4.6 assists, and 1 steal on 46% from the field and 87% from the line. Maxey is likely to overtake Shake Milton in the PG hierarchy, but Milton still holds deep league value for points and assists.
There’s substantially less intrigue surrounding the SG position. Seth Curry is coming off a season in which he got off to a flying start before being hampered by illness and injury. He’s a back-end 12-team pick if you’re in need of relatively efficient scoring and threes, but I would absolutely avoid drafting inside the top 100, where Yahoo currently ranks him. Curry is most effective in catch-and-shoot situations, and it’s difficult to see the Sixers receiving a better distributor than Simmons in any of the plausible trade scenarios. Furkan Korkmaz is useful as a three-pointer streamer when Curry is out, but he will dent your FG%.
Bottom Line: Draft Embiid with confidence in the second half of the first round, let someone else reach for Harris in the third round, and look for the scrappy 76er wings in the final rounds of 12-team drafts according to your team’s needs. Maxey is worthy of a draft pick until we get clarity on the Simmons situation, but factor in the likelihood of the 76ers receiving another PG in most trade scenarios. Lastly, this is my last team preview but look for my upcoming midweek guidance posts. The first installment drops on October 21st. Good luck to all!