For the Philadelphia 76ers to have the success they believe they can in a tough Eastern Conference, they will need certain players to step up.
Of course, the Sixers will rely on Joel Embiid to drive this team’s championship chase. The big fella is arguably the best big man in the league, and his health and play will ultimately determine how far the Sixers go in the 2023 playoffs.
Beyond Embiid, three players stand out as having the most to prove this season. These three will be considered X-factors as the Sixers move forward.
Here are the three with the most to prove:
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Yes. Harden has something to prove in the upcoming season.
Ultimately, The Beard will be headed to the Hall of Fame. However, after a 2021-22 season in which he began to show a decline, questions exist whether he can be the No. 2 guy next to Embiid to lead Philadelphia to a title. After a full summer to rest his hamstring and work out, the expectation is he can get back to at least his early days with the Brooklyn Nets before his injury.
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Thybulle deserves credit for being one of the elite defenders in the NBA. He uses his length and his defensive IQ to bother opposing defenses and disrupt their flow. However, he has to develop an offensive game at some point. This will be his fourth season, and he has to develop at least a corner 3-pointer within this offense since he will have plenty of open looks from that spot.
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After a slow adjustment, Harris was terrific after the All-Star break in the 2021-22 season. He shot 40% from deep after the break and he was terrific on defense in the playoffs. With two years left on his contract, Harris has to carry his play after the break into this season now that he is the fourth option on offense.