Just a few years ago, nobody thought that the Philadelphia 76ers had a chance in becoming a relevant team. With no real superstar and a below average starting five and bench, the team was looking like they would take a while before they could build a team capable of competing against the unstoppable Golden State Warriors or powerful Cleveland Cavaliers.
However, this wasn’t the case thanks to several genius trades and a series of number one draft picks. The team drafted center Joel Embiid in the third round of the 2014-15 draft, picking up the first piece of their rebuild. The team also picked up point guard Ben Simmons in 2016 to land another key piece to the puzzle. They were given the number one pick in the 2017-18 draft and selected Markelle Fultz, hoping to use him as a key piece as well.
Fultz has since had a lot of trouble with both injury and level of play. The 76ers believed that they would pick up the college standout and include him in their own version of a “Big Three.” This wasn’t the case, however, as issues with a shoulder injury would require him to sit out of games and practices. As of now it’s unclear what will come of Fultz and whether he will remain on the team.
Currently there isn’t any talk of trading Fultz; however, Fultz’s injury is a major setback that many thought could mean the end to this rebuild. That was until out of nowhere, the 76ers announced that they made a trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves. The trade includes All-Star Jimmy Butler and Justin Patton from the Timberwolves for the 76ers Robert Covington, Dario Saric, Jerryd Bayless, and the teams 2022 second round pick.
This was a bold move for both teams. Butler was a key player for the Timberwolves while Covington played a large role for the 76ers. With Butler’s contract ending this season, it is also unclear whether this trade will result in another signing, or if the All Star will be forced to continue to find where he belongs in the league.
With this trade it is clear that the 76ers, although weakened by Fultz’s absence, are capable of becoming the team to beat in the East. With a lack of depth, the Buck’s can be beaten with Embiid shutting down Giannis. The Celtics have been lacking the ability to work together and organize the lethal talent that was seen last year. All while, the Golden State Warriors have been struggling internally in the West with fights between players Draymond Green and Kevin Durant. In games without Stephen Curry, the Warriors’ record has been a losing one. These situations give the 76ers a solid chance, depending on whether or not Butler can integrate into the dynamic.
In the end, many didn’t “Trust the Process.” The foundation is now built, however, and there is talent along with opening cap space for next season. The question is, will the 76ers be the team to beat in the upcoming future?