4 Philadelphia 76ers players named to The Ringer’s NBA Top 100 Players List
The Philadelphia 76ers improved to 34-17 on the season last night with a win over the San Antonio Spurs.
The 137-129 win last night marked the eighth straight win on the road for the Sixers, either longest active road winning streak since the 2000-01 NBA season. They sit just a half game behind the Milwaukee Bucks in second place in the Eastern Conference Standings and two games behind the East-leading Boston Celtics.
Still, much like every year, the Sixers really aren’t getting the respect they deserve from NBA fans and the media. Joel Embiid, who is currently in second place in the NBA MVP Ladder rankings, while leading the league in scoring, wasn’t even named an All-Star starter. His teammate, James Harden, didn’t even make the All-Star game as a reserve.
Whether the media wants to acknowledge it or not, the Sixers are one of the elite teams in the NBA and should be considered a Finals contender come playoff time.
The Ringer, a media company known for discrediting the Sixers, released a new NBA Top 100 Players List, and the Sixers have four players on the list. Not that I care what The Ringer says, but let’s check out where the Sixers rank on the Boston-based media company’s list.
91. Tobias Harris
So much of the angst around Harris stems from a salary ($37.6 million this season) rich enough—and cumbersome enough—for the veteran forward to be held to the standards of a star. Harris isn’t that. What he is, however, is the sort of adaptable scorer that winning teams need to complement their best players.
When the Sixers are fully operational, Harris works primarily as a spot shooter to help keep the floor spaced for Joel Embiid and James Harden. Yet as the game progresses and lineups shift, Harris can take on more responsibility by creating decent looks of his own off the dribble, or setting up in the post to take advantage of smaller wings. It’s an adaptability that allows Harris to aid his starring teammates without being wholly dependent on them, giving the Sixers all the more options as they manage their rotation (and notable absences due to injury) throughout a long season.
68. Tyrese Maxey
Maxey is emerging into the third star the Sixers needed next to Joel Embiid and James Harden, providing additional shot creation and the upside to drop 30 on any given night. He’s a three-level scorer who can get to the basket for slippery finishes off the glass, pull up to hit contested midrange jumpers, or jack a shot from way behind the arc.
The next step is improving as a playmaker, changing pace, and delivering passes with greater accuracy. But for now, the Sixers just need Maxey to worry about getting buckets.
20. James Harden
One of the most prolific creators of his generation has become one of the league’s great unknowns. It’s clear that the version of Harden suiting up for the Sixers isn’t the same, dominant player who drove elite offenses (and led the league in scoring) year in and year out in Houston. What remains to be seen is how much of that former MVP is really left—and how willing Harden will be to adapt to his new reality.
Even an aging Harden is tremendous in the pick-and-roll, if not to the same ridiculous extremes he once was. These days he’s a bit more reliant on the pick to clear him a runway, and even then has needed to dust off his long-dormant midrange game to account for the fact that it’s getting tougher to drive all the way to the rim.
6. Joel Embiid
Embiid does everything you’d expect a player with a 7-foot, 280-pound frame to do on offense. He can pulverize opponents in the post, backing defenders underneath the rim before finishing loudly. He can cut. He can crash the boards. He can screen and roll. He adds something new to his game every year, and he has turned himself into a perennial MVP candidate. He’s added one post move after another: drop-steps. Fadeaways. Face-up rip-throughs. Hook shots. And he’s managed to apply his interior footwork to the perimeter, with hang dribbles out of drives to the basket, stepbacks from the elbows, and pump fakes to get into his pull-up. Embiid is as fluid as a player can get at his size. He’s like a wing in a big body.
Embiid is a towering presence on defense, serving as the anchor of an elite defense during his Philadelphia tenure. He’s stout defending the post and uses his long arms to alter shots as a drop defender in the pick-and-roll. The Sixers construct their defense around his talents. And though he isn’t a lockdown defender on the perimeter, he’s capable of switching if needed. Embiid’s effort comes and goes, but that’s no surprise for a player who carries the heavy workload he does on offense. Whether he is swatting shots or bullying his way to the basket, Embiid is a force who has become one of the game’s most complete players.
Up Next for the Philadelphia 76ers
The Sixers have now won 8-straight road games, their longest road win streak since winning 13-straight in the 2000-01 season.
On the year, the Sixers are 34-17 and sit in third place in the Eastern Conference standings, just a half game behind the Milwaukee Bucks in second, and two games behind the East-leading Boston Celtics, who they’ll face on Wednesday after playing the Knicks at Madison Square Garden tomorrow night.