How the 76ers Currently Lead the NBA Eastern Conference


Rick Osentoski: USA Today Sports

Two of the biggest reasons the Sixers are atop the East; Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris.

Jackson McCrae '23, Writer

The Philadelphia 76ers currently sit atop the Eastern Conference, with a record of ten wins and five losses, slightly ahead of the Milwaukee Bucks, who hold a 9-5 record.

Much of their success stems from the core of the team and the chemistry of the returning players, but the new additions, both on the court and in the coaching staff, have made a huge difference and are key factors in the 76ers improved play.

Perhaps the newcomer with the biggest impact has been Seth Curry. Curry has had the best season of his career, averaging a career-high in points (17.0 points per game), assists (3.6 assists per game), field goal percentage (60%), and three-point percentage (59%). His best game was against the Washington Wizards on January 6th, during which he scored a season-high 28 points while shooting 78% from the field and 85% from three. He also tacked on five rebounds and three assists.

The other newcomer in a starting role, Danny Green, has played well in recent games after getting off to a slow start. He is averaging 9.7 points per game, while shooting 38% from the field and 38% from three. However, he has started to heat up, hitting a franchise record-tying nine three-pointers as part of a 29-point performance on January 12th in a win over the Miami Heat.

Off the bench, rookie Tyrese Maxey and veteran Dwight Howard are also playing well. Howard, playing in a backup center role, is shooting an efficient 62% from the field while raking in 7.9 rebounds per game in his limited time. Maxey struggled early, which is typical for a rookie, but he has picked it up as of late and is up a solid 10.6 PPG in the limited court time he is seeing. His best game came against Denver in his only start of the season, when he dropped a career-high 39 points, along with seven rebounds, six assists, and two steals, while shooting 55% from the field.

The biggest impacts, however, have come from the returning players, with center Joel Embiid emerging as the MVP frontrunner as predicted by Bleacher Report. The Process has averaged 25.3 PPG, along with 11.7 RPG, 1.9 BPG, and 1.3 SPG, all while shooting 52.8% from the field and 40.9% from three, which is ridiculous for a seven-footer. His best game came January 12th against Miami, a game during which he poured in a ridiculous 45 points, along with sixteen rebounds, five steals, and the shot that sent it to overtime, where the Sixers eventually won by three.

The biggest surprise of the 76ers season, however, has been the play of Tobias Harris, who, after a slow start, has picked it up, and is turning into a reliable second scoring option behind Joel. Harris is averaging 19.3 PPG, along with 6.8 RPG, 3.1 APG, while shooting a career high 50.3% from the field, and 41.4% from three, both of which are hyper-efficient.

Ben Simmons has had a bit of a down year but has still emerged as one of the leading candidates for the Defensive Player of the Year Award. He has averaged 12.2 PPG, along with 9.2 RPG, 8.0 APG, 1.5 SPG, 0.9 BPG, and great defensive rating of 103.

Other key contributions have come from Shake Milton, a bright spot of the Sixers bench, who is averaging a career high 16.8 PPG, while shooting an efficient 49.6% from the field.

Other Sixers, such as Matisse Thybulle, Isaiah Joe, Mike Scott, and Furkan Korkmaz, have struggled slightly due to rotation fluctuation, and missed time, but have still been able to provide stops and buckets for the Sixers throughout the season.

The Sixers started the season 6-1, which is their best start since the 2000-01 season, a season during which they went to the Finals. Whether or not the Sixers can recreate the feat is yet to be seen and is a questions that can only be answered by the Sixers themselves.