If not for falling into the status quo of falling short of expectations season after season, the Philadelphia 76ers would’ve possibly been a heavy favorite to come out of the Eastern Conference and compete for a championship this year. Still, preseason experts put the Sixers right below the usual headliners in the Milwaukee Bucks, Miami Heat, and Boston Celtics.
There’s only one problem with that early on into the season: Philly is doing better than all those teams mentioned–and it’s not really even close at the moment.
The Sixers still have their same set of co-stars in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, and the two haven’t been able to get their franchise over the hump since their arrival in the City of Brotherly Love. So what’s the anomaly?
The front office added a few additional pieces to their roster compared to last year, but one name stands out more than most so far: Seth Curry.
Philly lacked shooters last year, and it was painfully obvious. Their three best players all couldn’t even crack 40 percent from downtown by season’s end. After bringing in Daryl Morey, the front office went to work on bringing in some sharpshooters that could space the floor for the Simmons-Embiid duo.
Curry has proven to be the best of the batch so far. He’s shooting 59 percent from 3-point range, leading the team by a far and wide margin. He’s also attempting 5.3 attempts per game, so it’s not to suggest that the 6-foot-2 guard isn’t taking a high volume of shots in total throughout contests. He’s also on par to have his best true-shooting campaign of his career, seeing as he how he sits at 79 percent in that regard at the moment. His second highest marking was last season with the Dallas Mavericks in which he held a 64 percent shooting rank.
To be fair, the 76ers as a unit are all rising above expectations this year, and some of that could be attributed to head coach Doc Rivers revitalizing this saturated style of play that’s plagued Philly for years at a time. Embiid is dominating the big man game averaging 24.6 points and 11.8 rebounds per game. Even Tobias Harris was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week for his tremendous play last week. Add that in with Curry’s career-high 17 points per game, and it’s no mistaking the reasoning as to why the Sixers have been so successful.
Still, the x-factor here is Curry. The other players have been around for a while, and while their production has always been substantial, it’s never amounted to the level it’s at now. The spacing and talent that Curry brings to the floor has not only elevated his game, but it’s opened the floodgates for the stars around him.
At 7-2, Philly is leading the way on the UnderDog Train as so many teams have flipped the script in the East so far. While some if not most of those teams will likely fall off as the season progresses, the Sixers seemed to have found a constant with Curry in the fold.