NBA Power Rankings: ESPN Slides 76ers Outside of Top 10
Heading into the NBA's restart, the Philadelphia 76ers were discussed as a team that could benefit the most from the COVID-19 suspension. Back in March, Sixers All-Star Ben Simmons was out with a back injury. The team's other All-Star in Joel Embiid was recovering from a shoulder injury.
Meanwhile, guys like Al Horford and Tobias Harris were dealing with less significant injuries, which was affecting their play at some capacity. Typically, teams won't get that much time off between regular season and the playoffs, but this year they did. And it almost felt like the break was the biggest blessing in disguise for the Sixers.
At first, everything went well for Philly. During the three scrimmages, Philly's key rotational players dominated for the most part when in. They looked good heading into the official restart. Then once the season fired up again, Philly's stock took a dip.
They were easily top ten going into the restart. Now, they've fallen out of favor. Although they've got wins over the San Antonio Spurs, Orlando Magic, and the Washington Wizards, the Sixers lost two close games to the Indiana Pacers and the Portland Trail Blazers.
Mix that in with the fact that Ben Simmons is likely out for the rest of the year with a knee injury and Joel Embiid is dealing with a questionable ankle injury and you've got a team that no longer looks like they are deserving of a spot in the top ten right now.
What Do the Power Rankings Say?
"It was a brutal week for Philadelphia, as Ben Simmons was almost assuredly lost for the team's entire playoff run following surgery to remove a loose body from his left knee after he injured it in a win over the Wizards. On top of that, the Sixers lost their other superstar, Joel Embiid, to an ankle injury in the first quarter of Sunday's loss to the Blazers -- though at least that injury doesn't appear to be nearly as severe."
After being ranked tenth on ESPN's Power Rankings last week, the Sixers have slipped out to No. 14 after everything that happened over the previous few days. The good news is that the Sixers do not have to fight for a spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Regardless of what happens over the next few games, Philly will lock in the sixth seed at worst.
But just because they've made the playoffs, doesn't take away the fact that the Sixers aren't in a tough scenario. Without Simmons and potentially without Embiid, Philly is a long shot to make moves in the postseason. As things continue to go wrong, the Sixers are deservedly so not seen as a top ten team down in the bubble right now.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter: @JGrasso_