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The 76ers X Factor For 2021-22 NBA Season, And It’s Not Joel Embiid

76ers, Sixers, Doc Rivers, Joel Embiid, Andre Drummond,

The Philadelphia 76ers disappointed their fans once again in April. A team that was being hyped-up for a very long time centered around Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons hit another roadblock in their path to a championship the city desires. However, rather than the roadblock being the Kawhi Leonard-led Raptors or a strong Boston squad from three years ago, the Atlanta Hawks won in 7 games. After that shocking defeat, rumors intensified about Simmons being unhappy with the management of the Sixers, and it truly was a very tough summer for all fans of the franchise.

For the time being, Simmons is still here. By all reports of packages that the Sixers wanted for the Australian, which are unrealistic, he is there to stay, regardless of his reluctance to talk to anyone from the franchise or show up for training camp. With that said, it is easy to assume that the X-Factor for the Sixers will be his improvement over the summer and willingness to suit up. Other players need to step up for this roster to achieve something.

Looking at the personnel changes over the summer, they did lose a valuable rotation player in center Dwight Howard, but they did answer accordingly and added center Andre Drummond. The rest of the roster did not go through major changes, so it is clear that coach Doc Rivers is happy with his roster.

76ers’ X-Factor in 2021-2022 season

Outside of the Embiid-Simmons-Tobias Harris core, two names spring to mind when talking about possible X-Factors. New addition in the middle, Drummond and freshly re-signed Danny Green, will be the deciding elements in this team’s success.

Firstly, Andre Drummond is a great addition to this team. While he is far removed from his All-Star days in Detroit, and while his season in Los Angeles was not ideal, he will still perform. Obviously, there will be issues with fit, meaning that he cannot be played at the same time as Joel Embiid, but for a center coming off the bench, Drummond is about as good as it can be wished for.

It is true, once again, that the part of last season when he played for the Los Angeles Lakers did not go to plan. He averaged just 11.9 points and 10.2 rebounds, both career lows, with his rookie year excluded.

However, it is still a double-double average with solid efficiency (53.1% shooting from the field), and his play in Cleveland can also be considered representative. He averaged 17.5 points and 13.5 rebounds in Ohio, which are great numbers that he can really come close to in a Sixers jersey.

The issue will be, as always with Drummond, his fit in the modern NBA. He is an immobile center whose biggest strength is his ability to rebound consistently, and his biggest weakness is the inability to follow quick guards around the perimeter. Still, Rivers is famous for getting the best out of centers like this, as he did with DeAndre Jordan during his Clippers days. There is a reason why the Sixers made this move, and while he is not an All-Star anymore, Drummond can still contribute in a big way.

Moving on to Danny Green, he is in his second season with the Sixers. After winning two championships in a row, with the Toronto Raptors and the Lakers respectfully, he moved to Philadelphia but did not enjoy the same success. The 34-year-old shooting guard had a good year for the Sixers, averaging 9.5 points per game, on 40% shooting from behind the arc in the regular season. In the series against the Hawks, his shooting completely disappeared, as he played in just three games and shot 1/9 from three in these games.

It was clear that Green was missed, both on offense and defense since he is tasked with shadowing the opposition’s best guard. Known as a pest on defense, the former Spur is one of the best defensive guards in the league, and that is what keeps him on the floor, even when shots are not falling. He will need to make sure that he consistently threatens opposing squads with his shooting due to a lack of shooting on this roster.

Of course, both Embiid and Harris can hit threes and guard Seth Curry is not unlike his brother in this parameter, but Green will need to repeat his efficiency from last year so that the Sixers can have even more options in the offense. With Simmons, Harris and Embiid diverting the defense’s attention, Green will have a ton of opportunities to capitalize on gaps in the opposing team. This is especially true during drives of Simmons and post-ups of Embiid, which immediately garnered attention from the defense and collapsing of players towards the paint, something shooters like Green and Curry live for.

If it is assumed that Simmons will continue with the franchise, and if it is assumed that Green and Drummond still have some magic inside themselves, the Sixers will again be a force to be reckoned with in the East. While it is true that their roster is lagging behind both the Nets and the Bucks, they are not that far behind where a hypothetical 7-game series would be a straight sweep. If they can avoid injuries, this might be the season where fans can hope for more success and a return to the NBA Finals, for the first time since 2001 and the Allen Iverson days.

As it was said, everything stated here is assuming that Simmons stays. However, with more and more interest for the Australian from other teams, Cavs specifically, all of this is subject to any additional changes. The Sixers should not lose hope as this generation of players is truly good enough to compete with the best of them. Unfortunately for them, it was injuries, inside drama and a bit of bad luck that kept them from seriously contending, but there is still a chance.