Philadelphia 76ers season preview
This preview originally appeared in our 2023-24 VSiN NBA Betting Guide, which was released on Thursday, October 5. To become a VSiN Pro subscriber and get all of our NBA coverage throughout the season, click here.
76ers Betting Odds
NBA Finals: +1500
Win Total: 49.5
Playoffs: Yes (-800)
What in the world should bettors do with the Philadelphia 76ers?
Philadelphia has been the center of turmoil this offseason, and it all centers around James Harden who requested a trade back in June. Since the request, Harden has openly called the president of basketball operations Daryl Morey a liar, and he told anyone who would listen that the relationship between him and the team is all but dead.
This situation becomes even more fascinating now that the smoke has cleared from the Damian Lillard saga, and Harden remains on the team. Morey has played hardball with the likes of Ben Simmons in the past, so it is a safe bet that Harden will be on the team when the season begins. However, how engaged will he be when on the floor?
If this relationship can be fixed, Philadelphia returns one of the best offensive duos in the NBA. When Harden and Joel Embiid were on the floor, the 76ers outscored opponents by 9.2 points per 100 possessions, and the team ranked in the 96th percentile in offensive efficiency (122.4). When Philadelphia ran a pick-and-roll with Harden as the ball-handler and Embiid as the roll-man, they averaged 1.12 points per possession. Those are all statistics that the 76ers can achieve once more if all parties are in.
Those two are also among the best isolation scorers in the league. Philadelphia averaged 1.10 points per possession in Harden isolation plays and 1.07 points per possession in Embiid isolation plays. It’s rare to have two players capable of scoring as efficiently when working on their own, but the 76ers have just that on this roster. They also have a solid supporting cast.
Tyrese Maxey has emerged as one of the great young players in the league. Maxey had his most efficient season ever, averaging 121.4 points per 100 shot attempts. He improved the 76ers’ net rating by 2.4 points every 100 possessions on the floor. When Maxey was on the 76ers ranked in the 90th percentile in points added per 100 plays in transition (+4.1) and the 95th in transition offensive efficiency (140.0). He’s a phenomenal combo guard who can run the show if needed – Philadelphia had a +3.1 net rating when he was at point guard – but thrives when he is off the ball.
Tobias Harris and P.J. Tucker also returned this season which means the 76ers have their starting lineup that outscored opponents by 13.1 points per 100 possessions back together. The front office also did a tremendous job of filling out the rest of the roster behind their starting five.
De’Anthony Melton and Paul Reed are the main returning bench pieces. Among the reserves are newcomers Patrick Beverley, Kelly Oubre Jr., Mo Bamba and Danny Green. It is not a perfect bench by any stretch, but you do have two good backcourt defenders in Beverley and Melton, and a scoring presence – albeit an inefficient one – in Oubre.
The 76ers also figure to be an above-average defensive team once more, as long as Embiid stays healthy. With Embiid on the floor, the 76ers allowed 112.1 points per 100 possessions, compared to the 116.8 they allowed when he was off the floor. He has never been an elite shot blocker, but he is among the best defensive rebounders, allowing the 76ers to snuff out opponent possessions after one miss. Tucker gives them a primary wing defender as well, and with the two guards off the bench, the dropoff on that end of the floor should not be stark when Nick Nurse goes to his reserves.
It will be fascinating to see what the betting market does with Philadelphia this season. If you include the postseason, the 76ers were the best cover team in the NBA with a 54-38-1 ATS record. They were among the best home teams as well, with a 61-32 SU/54-38-1 ATS record at the Wells Fargo Center.
However, the dilemma with Harden looms, and we could see the market try to short the 76ers, with the thought being that the off-court issues bleed into the performance on the court. If Harden buys in and gives Philadelphia a full effort this will be one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference once again, but only time will tell how this works out.
Win Total Analysis
How in the world could anybody walk up to the counter and bet Philadelphia to go Over its win total? Its win total has not budged since opening at 49.5, but the Under is the favored side for good reason. The top of the Eastern Conference is better now that Damian Lillard is with Milwaukee and Boston has Jrue Holiday. There is also the chance that Harden is not a member of the team after the trade deadline.
As of this point, there are no realistic deals out there for Harden and Philadelphia. Perhaps the team gets involved with Portland to grab Malcolm Brogdon, but he is a downgrade from Harden in almost every facet, save for defense. It would be safe to assume that Harden is on the team, but we have seen him quiet quit on a team in the past, and it wouldn’t be shocking to see it happen again.
Philadelphia gets the benefit of a schedule that is not very challenging by Positive Residuals’ metrics. The 76ers have the ninth-lowest strength of schedule in the league and a positive net rest advantage (+1). They are also among the 11 teams with only 14 back-to-backs which benefits Embiid who has dealt numerous injury issues the last few seasons.
If everything were copacetic with this roster, this would be a candidate to surpass its win total, but the Harden dynamic brings with it too many variables that could tank the potential of this season.
Win Total Recommendation: UNDER 49.5