The NBA season is in full swing. Specific teams are succeeding expectations, while others have been somewhat disappointing so far. One team that has been one of the surprisingly positive teams has been the Philadelphia 76ers. After all the drama surrounding them regarding the Ben Simmons situation, nobody expected the #1 seed last season to be back in the same position again. But after 10 games, with an 8-2 record Philly is firmly in command of the Eastern Conference. The secret behind their success? Teamwork.
A deep team
The 76ers have been one of the best teams in the East for a couple of years now, but they were always viewed as a top-heavy team that relied on their stars in Embiid and Simmons, without the supporting cast being too reliable, especially in the playoffs.
But this year, without their star point guard, the rest of the team has stepped up majorly. Embiid's numbers dipped after an amazing season, but he is still a walking 20 & 10 whenever he steps on the court. Tobias Harris is right behind him, and Seth Curry has established himself as one of the best shooters in the NBA. The deepness of this team has shown especially over the last few games, playing without Embiid, Harris, and Green, three starters.
Aside from the before-mentioned Curry, guys like Tyreese Maxey, Furkan Korkmaz, Georges Niang, Andre Drummond, Mattise Thybulle, and Shake Milton are each playing some of their best basketball. The young Maxey has been dropped in the starting lineup and delivered, holding his own. Korkmaz is one of their best outside weapons, and Thybulle has been the perfect glue guy, locking down the opponent's best players.
The signing of Andre Drummond was a huge question mark, but he has solidified himself as the best backup center in the NBA, vastly improving the 76ers second unit and even stepping up in the absence of Joel Embiid. Also, Niang, who was struggling with the Jazz last season, has been maybe even the biggest surprise, serving as the backup power forward, doing everything asked of him, shooting the ball efficiently, and becoming a true favorite.
Embiid pokes fun at Niang but shows appreciation
The 8-2 start, mixed with the tremendous all-around team play, has brought a great spirit to the 76ers locker room, who used the Ben Simmons drama to come together as a team and prove they can win even without him. Embiid's numbers have been down, but despite that, he has voiced his satisfaction with the team's state. "The chemistry that we have is very different from the previous years. We're complete. We're on the same page. Everybody feels like they have something to prove.", Embiid said.
Embiid also, in his style, had some jokes, as he poked some fun at his newest teammate Georges Niang:
"I used to think he sucked, honestly. Obviously, on this team he's doing way more than [shooting 3s]. What I'm impressed with is he's a competitor. He brings so much joy to all of us, on and off the court. I'm just glad I have him."
Joel Embiid, Lauren Rosen Twitter
Last season with the Jazz, Niang didna have much of a role other than coming in for 10-15 minutes and putting up a few three-pointers, but this year, Georges's role has increased exponentially with the Sixers. Through ten games, Niang is averaging 11.9 ppg, 2.6 rpg, and 1.8 apg on 41% from deep, playing a pivotal role from the bench and even starting in the absence of Tobias Harris.
We have seen this before from Doc's teams, as he is really the best at getting the maximum out of every role player and pushing the narrative of underdogs rather than being a favorite. One thing is sure. If they continue to play this way, get and stay healthy, while possibly managing to swap Simmons for another piece, going all the way wouldn't be too much of a shock.