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After another second-round exit in the spring, the Philadelphia 76ers haven’t done much this summer to close the gap between themselves and the Eastern Conference’s elite. In fact, with Georges Niang, Shake Milton and Jalen McDaniels all departing, the gap has probably widened, given only Patrick Beverley has been signed to replace their production. They’re shaping up as a middling playoff team, not a club primed to actualize a deep playoff run.
According to a recent survey, 55 percent of voters think there are three or four Eastern Conference teams currently better than the Sixers, which is a pretty reasonable number, in my estimation.
The Cleveland Cavaliers bolstered their rotation significantly by signing floor-spacing wings in Niang and Max Strus. The Miami Heat lost Strus and Gabe Vincent, but could land Damian Lillard, seem to tout quite the developmental system and brought back Josh Richardson following a three-year hiatus. The New York Knicks added Donte DiVincenzo. A full season under Quin Snyder could invigorate the Atlanta Hawks. Strides from the young talent on these squads could help as well.
I don’t know which team(s) among that group will prove better than the Sixers, but I can certainly see an argument for any of them, which leaves Philadelphia jostling for homecourt advantage rather than the top spot in the Conference. Three or four, as things currently stand, hits the nail on the head.