The Sixers play an actual game tomorrow! I can’t believe we’ve made it. Anyways, here is the second part of our massive roundtable. If you missed the first installment, you can read it here.
Question #1: How many games will Joel Embiid play this season?
Steve Lipman: 70. Enough games (and minutes, please) off to keep him rested, not too many to drop him out of the MVP conversation.
Tom West: 70. Embiid and Brett seem to want to emphasize limited minutes rather than games played, so 70 seems fair when factoring in a few missed games due to rest or minor injuries (providing nothing significant occurs, of course).
Dan Volpone: 60. Knock on wood for no injuries, and the Sixers should rest him whenever possible so he’s not half-dead by April.
Andrew Favakeh: The main thing that has held Embiid back is his diet. He told ESPN’s Zach Lowe that when Kawhi Leonard and the Raptors ended the Sixers’ season, Embiid cried after the game and felt he never wanted to let the city down again. To never do so, he said he lost 25 pounds (then gained five pounds of muscle back.) Another factor will be load management. To deal with that, the Sixers hired former Spurs assistant, Lorena Torres Ronda, from the San Antonio Spurs, as the new Performance Director. Remember when Popovich was fined for benching Tony Parker and Tim Duncan against the Heat? Look for Torres-Ronda to be willing to keep Embiid rested, even in nationally-televised games. In the end, I believe Embiid will play enough games to be in MVP contention. 72?
Kevin Rice: 69.
Andrew Patton: 68.
David Early: 61 for Embiid. Let’s hope the team comes up with a way to healthy scratch him around 20 times for “title aspirations management.” The two seasons Kawhi Leonard won a title he played 66 games at 29.1 minutes per game (2014) and 34 minutes per game in 60 games (2019). For him it’s always quad/knee issues. I’d say split the difference and play Joel 31 minutes per game in 63 games on that Kawhi program.
Greg Melo: 60. I think this is the high end for him too. Though I think this will be mostly because Kyle O’Quinn will prove to be significantly more efficient than any rotation big that we had last year. And of course, Al Horford was brought in to be the ultimate backup for Embiid. So I think Joel misses about 15 games to load management, and then a handful to minor injuries (tweaks an ankle, mysterious illness) He will be fully healthy and a go for the playoffs though.
Tyler Monahan: Joel Embiid played a career high 64 games last year and I see him setting a new career high this year. The Sixers are going to be cautious with their franchise cornerstone, but they also need him out there as much as his body lets him. Depending how the regular season goes for the Sixers and the rest of the Eastern Conference the team might feel comfortable resting him frequently just to make sure he is ready for playoffs, but I still see Embiid playing anywhere from 65-72 games.
Adio Royster: How many games will Joel Embiid play? 65-70. How many SHOULD he play? Enough to where the Sixers are a top-3 seed in the East while keeping him fresh. The East is just Milwaukee, the Sixers, and some unknown third seed that may end up being Boston. I would rather have a totally healthy Embiid going into the playoffs rather than him play 70+ games. A healthy Embiid means the Sixers likely win the championship. I’ll take that, please, and thank you.
Question #2: What will the Sixers’ record be?
Steve Lipman: 58-24.
Tom West: 57-25. There will be some offensive struggles without Redick’s shooting and, most importantly, Butler’s creation from the perimeter. I think this could slow the Sixers down from a potential 60-win pace, especially early in the season as they smooth out the kinks of their new-look offense.
Dan Volpone: 59-23. We’re all going to want the Sixers to hit 60 wins, so it’s pretty much a guarantee they’ll drop two out of three to the Pelicans, Grizzlies, and Hornets to end the season.
Andrew Favakeh: 56-26.
Kevin Rice: 60-22.
Andrew Patton: 57-25.
David Early: 55-27.
Greg Melo: I feel like 56 wins is the sweet spot for this team. I think in the regular season they will prove to be a significantly tougher out than they were last year. This defense is going to be so good, and I truly believe they will be able to hold some opponents to 90 points or less. But rest days for Horford and Embiid, in addition to the commitment from Brett Brown to full health for the playoffs will cost this team 60 wins and the #1 seed.
Tyler Monahan: Last year the Milwaukee Bucks were the best team record wise in the entire league at 60-22, I don’t think any Eastern Conference team will reach that mark this year. I believe the Sixers will finish with a 58-24 record, enough for the top seed in the Eastern Conference come playoff time.
Adio Royster: The over/under number for wins is 53.5 (54.5, depending on which sports book you’re betting from). I said in a column I did that the “just under” seems about right to me. The Sixers go 53-29, are the first or second seed in the East, and Embiid is healthier come playoff time than he’s been. If the team wins 55+, that would be fantastic, and I would be here for it. I’m just going with my gut on this one.
Question #3: And, finally... how will this Sixers season end?
Steve Lipman: Sixers over Clippers in 6.
Tom West: It’s easy to go into loads of depth here about potential playoff opponents, but I’ll keep this prediction brief. The Sixers’ season will end in the Finals. They are certainly good enough to make it out of the East, but could lack the offensive firepower and perimeter creation to overcome a team with the depth and tremendous top-end talent of the Clippers and their PG-Kawhi duo.
Dan Volpone: With Joel Embiid accepting the Finals MVP trophy and using that platform to point out that Montrezl Harrell was too short to guard him. Sixers over the Clippers in four, five, six, or seven.
Andrew Favakeh: The Sixers will face the Los Angeles Clippers in the championship, losing 4-3.
Kevin Rice: Me on Broad Street with minimal clothing on, blasting all of you beautiful people in the face with my akimbo’d super soakers filled with Shirley Temples celebrating Al Horford’s first career championship.
Andrew Patton: Six-game loss in the NBA Finals to the Clippers.
David Early: In an NBA Finals loss that leaves fans coming up with ways to not accept that they kind of missed Jimmy Butler.
Greg Melo: Sigh. So I’ve gone a few different ways on this. Originally, I put this team in as the second best squad in the East. Then I realized how this roster is constructed to beat Milwaukee specifically, and talked myself into them making the NBA Finals. And at one point I had them winning it all. But as we get closer and closer to the regular season, I have to pump the brakes a little bit. There are still a few questions to this team. Like who will score in crunch time against the elite teams in the playoffs and how will Simmons fair against defenses that have the blueprint to make him work. And of course, I believe Embiid will be healthy for April, May and June, but I need to see it so that my heart doesn’t rip into tiny pieces. I think the Sixers make the finals, but I think they go up against a tough out in the Clippers or the Nuggets and lose a tough series in six games. I hope I’m wrong.
Tyler Monahan: This Sixers season will end with a trip to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2001. Whether or not the Sixers end up raising the Larry O’Brien trophy is yet to be seen, but I feel confident that what the team did this offseason is enough to take them to the next level, that being an appearance in the Eastern Conference Final and an eventual win.
Adio Royster: With my colleagues at Liberty Ballers and all of you maniacs on Broad Street wearing oversized collars while holding up signs and oversized Sam Hinkie heads as the Sixers celebrate a championship. There is not one team in the NBA that’s a bad matchup for the Sixers. Not one.
Big thank you to all of my fellow staff writers who participated!