After another disappointingly early postseason exit — this time at the hand of the Atlanta Hawks — the Philadelphia 76ers enter the 2021-22 season with a lot of unknowns.
Most of that surrounds All-Star Ben Simmons, who seemingly refused to shoot the ball against Atlanta and was publicly called out by teammate Joel Embiid and questioned by coach Doc Rivers afterward in their post-series media sessions.
All of that led to a tumultuous offseason filled with trade rumors, as Simmons officially requested a move out of Philadelphia, but nothing transpired. Simmons was a no-show for the first two weeks of the preseason before finally reporting to the team facility on Monday night.
While Rivers and Embiid have shown early signs of support for Simmons’ return, we have no idea what the next turn in this saga will be and whether there’s an end in sight.
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76ers Win Total Prediction 2021-2022
76ers Over 50.5 Wins (-105) at BetMGM
I think this win total is set far too low because of the circus surrounding Simmons. Philadelphia has won 51 or more games in each of the last two 82-game seasons and racked up 49 wins last year in a 72-game campaign.
Sure, would I like this win total a lot more had the 76ers been able to flip Simmons for Damian Lillard? Of course I would, but it’s not like Philadelphia is a team lacking talent. Tobias Harris and Seth Curry will continue to play large supporting roles alongside Embiid and Simmons, assuming he’s on the court.
General manager Daryl Morey did well to keep veteran Danny Green and bring in solid depth pieces in Georges Niang and Andre Drummond on reasonable contracts during the offseason. It’ll be interesting to see what Morey has planned for Simmons moving forward, but as of now this bet looks like a steal.
76ers Make NBA Playoffs Prediction 2021-2022
Philadelphia 76ers To Make Playoffs (-2500) at Unibet
The 76ers haven’t had trouble making the playoffs in recent years — it’s only once they get there that things seem to fall apart. Philadelphia has made four successive trips to the postseason but has yet to advance beyond the second round during that stretch.
The 76ers shouldn’t have any issues getting to the postseason again (unless Simmons leaves and takes the whole team with him), but at these odds you should really be investing your money elsewhere.
76ers To Win NBA Championship Prediction 2021-2022
76ers To Win NBA Championship (+1600) at Unibet
This bet is just too risky given all the unknowns still at play. Even if Simmons ends up playing for Philadelphia all season, the ceiling for this squad has only been the second round, and a championship would be a massive step up from that.
The Eastern Conference likely has the easier path to the NBA Finals with the Broojlyn Nets having questions around Kyrie Irving and the Milwaukee Bucks potentially dealing with a championship hangover. But even if the 76ers finally get over the hump and make it to the NBA Finals, I can’t see them winning it with the team they have.
If this number was longer, I might be tempted to give it a shot and hope Morey finds a way to trade Simmons for Lillard or someone comparable, but there are too many better teams to take a shot with at 16-1.
76ers & Player Prop Predictions 2021-2022
Joel Embiid To Win NBA MVP Award (+700) at Unibet
We might not know how much Simmons will play for Philly this season, but one thing we do know is that Embiid can flat-out ball.
Last season, the seven-footer set career highs in points per game (28.5), field-goal percentage (51.3%), three-point percentage (37.7%), free-throw percentage (85.9%), and steals per game (1.0), all while leading the 76ers to their first Atlantic Division title since 2001.
A nightmare to guard, Embiid would take an even larger role in Simmons’ absence, which could push his stats even higher. As his team’s leader and best player, he’s everything an MVP should be.
Ben Simmons To Miss 1st Free-Throw Attempt (+125) at DraftKings
This special offer at DraftKings caught my attention mostly because there’s a whole tab devoted to such a silly prop, but if there’s value here we might as well explore it.
We all know that Simmons isn’t the world’s best free-throw shooter, hitting just 61.3% from the line last season. He was even worse during the playoffs, however, shooting an abysmal 34.2% from the charity stripe.
There’s going to be a ton of pressure on Simmons when he makes his first appearance at the foul line. If he misses, he’s going to make a lot of bettors very happy.
76ers To Win Atlantic Division (+300) at Unibet
I took a long hard look at Philadelphia to win the Eastern Conference at +800 after my earlier points about the easier path, but I think I like the value here more.
The 76ers are the reigning Atlantic Division champions and are now second-favorites behind the Nets (-250). Brooklyn is certainly more talented on paper if Irving plays, that’s far from guaranteed. Both of these teams have aspirations far beyond a division title, but I trust Philadelphia’s pieces to be more available throughout the season.
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