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After coming up short in the second round of the 2022 NBA Playoffs, the Philadelphia 76ers admitted they weren’t good enough to compete for an NBA title last year.

Players such as Tobias Harris and Joel Embiid admitted that toughness, especially mentally, drained the Sixers’ shot at a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals.

Knowing that about the locker room, Sixers President Daryl Morey acquired some tough-minded players such as P.J. Tucker and De’Anthony Melton in the offseason, hoping they could help improve Philadelphia’s title odds.

With the start of next season still months away, it’s hard to tell if the 76ers got better in the offseason. However, in the eyes of John Schuhmann at NBA.com, the Sixers are up there with the East’s top contenders on the first power rankings of the new basketball year.

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Where Do the Sixers Rank?

Although the Golden State Warriors won the league title, the Boston Celtics are No. 1 on the first power rankings of the year. Behind them are the 2021 NBA Champions, the Milwaukee Bucks. Then comes the Sixers, who received praise for their crucial offseason acquisitions. 

“They probably gave Tucker too many years, but the Sixers have a ton of shooting around their stars. Melton (fourth in deflections per 36 minutes) and Tucker also upgrade the defense. The questions won’t be answered until Harden proves himself in the playoffs, but this team could be a regular season monster.”

Coming off of another MVP-caliber year, Joel Embiid will be the face of Philadelphia next year. With James Harden back in the mix, the Sixers have a reliable ball-handler and playmaker to work the backcourt with the young budding star, Tyrese Maxey.

While Tobias Harris has struggled to live up to his contract, he’s proven to be a stellar fourth option on offense and an improving defender. While the Sixers could still use some depth in other areas, they certainly improved in that department. Now, the big question marks on the team will be whether one of the young bigs can hold it down behind Embiid or not and whether Harden can return to his superstar form.

Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for All76ers, a Sports Illustrated channel. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.


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