76ers Bold Predictions Ahead of 2022-23 NBA Season

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBAFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 22, 2022

76ers Bold Predictions Ahead of 2022-23 NBA Season

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    TORONTO, ON - APRIL 7: James Harden #1 of the Philadelphia 76ers brings the ball up the floor with Joel Embiid #21 against the Toronto Raptors during the first half of their basketball game at the Scotiabank Arena on April 7, 2022 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images)
    Mark Blinch/Getty Images

    The 2022-23 Philadelphia 76ers look so good on paper that it's hard to figure out how high to set the bar for a prediction to qualify as bold.

    They might have the best player on the planet in two-time MVP runner-up Joel Embiid. They have a former MVP in James Harden, who could really fill it up if he ever puts his hamstring trouble behind him. They have a rising star in Tyrese Maxey and the NBA's best fourth option in Tobias Harris, not to mention a loaded supporting cast around this quartet.

    The Sixers could be all-caps AWESOME in 2022-23, and to contextualize that awesomeness, let's lay out three bold predictions for this bunch.

4 Philly All-Stars

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    PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - APRIL 18: Tyrese Maxey #0 (L) and Tobias Harris #12 of the Philadelphia 76ers celebrate against the Toronto Raptors during Game Two of the Eastern Conference First Round at Wells Fargo Center on April 18, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
    Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

    The Association hasn't seen four All-Stars from the same squad since the Golden State Warriors sent Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green to the 2018 game.

    Could these Sixers snap that streak? It isn't impossible.

    Embiid is a lock and Harden should be something close to it. The only questions are whether Maxey and Harris can elevate to that level.

    If Maxey's third-year leap looks anything like his second, he might be a shoo-in, too. As for Harris, he has hovered around star-caliber production in the past but never gotten the call. That could change this season if he ups his efficiency, adds a pinch more volume and helps the Sixers to an NBA-best record before the All-Star break.

Joel Embiid Wins MVP, James Harden Joins Him on All-NBA Team

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    LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JULY 18:  Joel Embiid attends Michael Rubin's MLBPA x Fanatics party at City Market Social House on July 18, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images)
    Leon Bennett/Getty Images

    Predicting an MVP award for Embiid isn't bold enough. Not on its own, anyway.

    The 28-year-old has settled for the silver medal behind Nikola Jokic each of the past two seasons, but he could easily flip that order.

    If Embiid plays 70-plus games and simply mimics last year's production (30.6 points, 11.7 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.5 blocks), that might do it. If his numbers somehow grow, he could run away with the honor.

    To give this prediction some boldness, though, we'll send a second honor in Harden's direction and give the Beard his first All-NBA selection since 2019-20.

    His last two seasons were disrupted by trades, and he happened to be battling a nagging hamstring injury that whole time. Assuming he has finally settled into a spot and actually had a healthy offseason, he could easily re-enter the All-NBA conversation.

Sixers Sweep 1st-Round Opponent but Don't Make It Past the 2nd

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    CAMDEN, NJ - FEBRUARY 15: Daryl Morey, President of Basketball Operations poses for a photo with James Harden #1 of the Philadelphia 76ers during a press conference on February 15, 2022 at Philadelphia 76ers Training Complex in Camden, New Jersey. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
    Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

    Promise this group good health and better chemistry, and it just might earn juggernaut status. The Embiid-Harden connection has tremendous star power, Maxey and Harris might be overqualified for their places on the offensive hierarchy, and the supporting cast looks stacked after a productive offseason.

    It is very possible to picture the Sixers' season ending in a champagne-soaked celebration.

    That's why it feels bold for our crystal ball to go the other direction.

    The Sixers have plenty of potential roadblocks, and it starts at the top. Embiid is awesome, but he's also a 7-footer who has battled myriad injury issues. Harden can shred nets, but he still shot just 41 percent overall and 33 percent from range last season, and his history in big moments isn't exactly encouraging.

    Philly has fielded uber-talented teams in recent seasons, too, and been bounced from the second round in four of the last five years. This group arguably looks the best on paper, but it could still suffer the same fate.

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