Why the Sixers will make the NBA Finals sooner than later

(Photo from @JoelEmbiid/ Twitter) Philadelphia 76er teammates Robert Covington, Ben Simmons, and Joel Embiid pose for a post-workout picture with projected No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz.

Reports surfaced on June 17 that the Philadelphia 76ers traded up to the No.1 pick for June 22’s NBA Draft. The 76ers are expected to select University of Washington guard Markelle Fultz with the top selection. Fultz and current 76ers players appeared to enjoy each other’s company last weekend when the draft prospect came to Philadelphia to work out for the team. Philadelphia big men Joel Embiid and Dario Saric posted a selfie from the team’s locker room with Fultz’s name in the background. Embiid then posted a picture after the workout of himself, Fultz, 2016 No.1 pick Ben Simmons, and Robert Covington. Fultz commented under the post “trust the process.” Later that weekend, Fultz commented on Simmons’ Instagram Live feed that he was his “biggest fan.”

In his lone season at Washington, Fultz averaged 23.2 points, 5.9 assists, and 5.7 rebounds. He’s an explosive guard with the athleticism, speed, and scoring abilities that resemble a young Monta Ellis when he first came into the league. Simmons missed all of last season due to a foot injury, but he’s a 6-foot-10 hybrid point forward with speed, ball handling abilities and a frame similar to LeBron James’s when he first entered the league in 2003. Embiid only played in 31 games last season, but he’s still a leading candidate to be the league’s Rookie of the Year. Mr. “Process” himself averaged 20.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.5 blocks and 2.1 assists per game. The seven-footer also showcased that he can stretch the floor, shooting 37 percent from three-point range as well his rookie season. The big three combination of Fultz, Simmons and Embiid have an average age of 20 and the trio is accompanied by Dario Saric, Jahlil Okafor, and Sergio Rodriguez.

LeBron James has owned the Eastern Conference this entire decade with eighth consecutive trips to the finals, but he is now entering his 15th season in the league. James, 32, is due to decline from his prime within the next three seasons based on Michael Jordan, Allen Iverson, Kobe Bryant, and Kareem Abul-Jabar’s stats after age 35 — father time is simply undefeated. The open spot in the East should be handed down to the 76ers by the time of James’ fall because the trio with the average age of 20 will be a trio with the average age of 24 in the prime of their respective careers. Philadelphia native Kevin Hart always joked that the Sixers were rebuilding for 2020, but the joke is looking more and more like reality every day.

Rashad Milligan
Rashad Milligan

Rashad Milligan is the sports editor at the Valley Times-News in Lanett, Alabama. He was once a news reporter at the Douglas County Sentinel and the sports editor for Georgia State's student newspaper, The Signal.

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