We're one week into the 2021-2022 NBA season. So far, the Sixers have played in three matchups, and they did it all without their three-time All-Star point guard Ben Simmons in the mix. Simmons was serving a one-game suspension for the first outing against the New Orleans Pelicans after getting booted from practice last Tuesday.
Then after admitting to his teammates and coaches that he wasn't mentally ready to take the floor for the Sixers at this time, the 76ers have stopped fining Simmons, found ways to help, and ruled the star guard out for personal reasons after moving forward.
The Sixers have achieved a 2-1 record without Simmons so far through the first few games. They opened up the season with a bang as they hit the road and demolished the Zion Williamson-less Pelicans 117-96.
When they returned home on Friday to face the Eastern Conference powerhouse that is the Brooklyn Nets, the Sixers started off on the right foot. Unfortunately, their late-game woes shined bright as they lost control of the lead and allowed Brooklyn to form a comeback and defeat the Sixers at the Wells Fargo Center 114-109.
Before the week ended, the Sixers paid a visit to a young Oklahoma City Thunder team. While the Sixers probably should've had a more comfortable win after a red-hot start from Seth Curry, they did enough to secure a double-digit victory nonetheless, moving to 2-1 on the year.
So, with three games in the bag, where do the Sixers rank on ESPN's power rankings heading into week two? As expected, they've cracked the top ten.
"Philadelphia was a horrid final five minutes against Brooklyn away from a 3-0 week to start the season. Things with the 76ers -- even without Ben Simmons -- remain the way they've always been: If Joel Embiid is healthy and available, Philadelphia will win lots of games."
Coming in at No. 7 is the Joel Embiid-led Sixers. While the Sixers are certainly a better team with Ben Simmons on the floor -- and everybody knows it -- they are still playoff-caliber as long as Embiid can remain in the mix.
It's a tall task for Embiid to stay healthy, but the 76ers still have a decent squad that could win some games without him as long as players such as Tobias Harris and Seth Curry maintain their solid play. Then, later on down the line, the Sixers could jump up from seven if they get Simmons back in the mix or gain some value for him if the player-organization relationship cannot be salvaged.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.