After a fun and promising season in Philly in 2017, in which the Sixers made a meaningful playoff run for the first time in over a decade, expectations are sky high.
The franchise has two young All Star calibre players who are only improving by the day in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, and some nice pieces to fit around them.
A third place finish in the East last season was overachieving at the time, but now that will be the minimum expectation heading into the 2018 season.
With a fanbase hungry for success, and a team that is a genuine contender if they can get enough support for Embiid and Simmons, the pressure is ramping up on Brett Brown to deliver results.
Brown's young team are dynamic and exciting, but not everyone is convinced they'll make strides and improve this year.
Retired four-time All Star Shawn Marion has made it clear he's not a fan of this Sixers team, and he's certain they won't have the same level of success this coming season as they did last time out.
The former Suns and Mavericks forward believes the East will be stronger and more competitive in 2018, despite LeBron James' absence, and that Philly will struggle to compete at the top of the conference with the likes of the Celtics and Raptors when it comes to crunch time.
“I think Philly had a great year last year, I don’t see them repeating what they did last year, I see them being a four-seed in the Eastern Conference, I think if all these teams stay healthy, I’ll take Boston as my pick for No. 1,” Marion told Vivek Jacob of Sportsnet.
The 40-year-old has the Celtics, with the returning Kyrie Irving an Gordon Hayward, as the team to beat out East and he's not alone with that opinion. But he also thinks the Kawhi Leonard led Raptors, and even the Wizards with a healthy John Wall and Bradley Beal linking up with Dwight Howard, will secure more regular season wins than the Sixers.
“No. 2, I’ll give them the nod ahead of Toronto a little bit, it’s Washington,” adds Marion. “They got some great additions this summer, I think they got a chance to do something very special. I’mma give the 3 to Toronto and then you go Philly. I think Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid are awesome and then you got some young guys on their team, but I don’t like their system, I think it’s too predicated on hitting the three-ball and transition.”
It's not a popular take, and only time will tell whether it's accurate, but one would have to think Philly would be better in 2018.
Simmons and Embiid should come back even better, Dario Saric is improving too, and there's the unknown factor of Markelle Fultz who could come in and make a huge impact too.
Boston is certainly the favourite to make the finals, but one would have to favour the Sixers over anyone else to match up against Brad Stevens' side in the Eastern Conference Finals.News Now - Sport News