30 Teams in 30 Days

2021-22 Philadelphia 76ers season preview: Roster changes, depth chart, key storylines and games to watch

The 2021-22 NBA season is set to tip off on Oct. 19 (ET). In preparation for the upcoming season, we're dedicating one day between now and the start of the season to each team in the league.

Next up, the Philadelphia 76ers.

2020-21 season record

49-23, 1st in the Eastern Conference

Notable additions

Grant Riller, free agency

Aaron Henry, free agency

Georges Niang, free agency

Andre Drummond, free agency

Jaden Springer, No. 28 pick in 2021 NBA Draft

Notable departures

George Hill, waived

Anthony Tolliver, waived

Rayjon Tucker, waived

Depth chart

Philadelphia 76ers depth chart (2021-22)
Starters Second Third Fourth
PG Ben Simmons Shake Milton Tyrese Maxey
SG Seth Curry Furkan Korkmaz Jaden Springer Isaiah Joe
SF Danny Green Matisse Thybulle Aaron Henry Gary Clark
PF Tobias Harris Georges Niang Paul Reed
C Joel Embiid Andre Drummond Charles Bassey

3 key storylines

Ben Simmons of the Philadelphia 76ers

Where does Ben Simmons' future lie?

As it stands, Simmons will be on the 76ers roster heading into training camp, despite reports of the three-time All-Star requesting a trade.

Simmons has reportedly informed the 76ers front office that he wants out, but without a suitable trade partner, the 76ers have made it clear they intend for Simmons to be on the roster this season, with four years remaining on his max deal.

Simmons struggled in the playoffs last season as the 76ers were eliminated in the second round. His future with the franchise has been one of the biggest storylines of the offseason. While the relationship between the star and the franchise is up in the air, the Aussie is still one of the best players at his position and a key piece to their championship aspirations.

MORE: What Simmons would bring to a team

Simmons finished runner up in Defensive Player of the Year voting and is the best defender at the point guard position, finishing fifth in steals per game (1.6) and third in deflections per game (3.5).

Offensively, Simmons' poor shooting has been well documented, but his ability to create scoring opportunities for his teammates is elite. Over the past two seasons, only Damian Lillard (452), Russell Westbrook (453) and Luka Doncic (485) have created more 3-pointers, with Simmons assisting on a total of 422 3-pointers, per PBP Stats.

In transition, he is virtually unstoppable, creating more than a quarter (28.3 percent) of his offence on the fast break, one of the highest rates in the league, according to NBA.com.

Whether he will be on the roster this season remains in question, but with Simmons on board, the 76ers will still have their sights on contending for a championship.

Can Joel Embiid win MVP?

Embiid is coming off the best season of his career, which saw him finish second in MVP voting and earn an All-NBA Second Team selection, after averaging a career-high 28.5 points, 10.6 rebounds and 1.4 blocks on 51.3 percent shooting from the field and 37.7 percent from three.

He committed his future to the 76ers, signing a four-year supermax extension. Alongside Nikola Jokic, he is one of the most unguardable big men in the league.

Playoff success has eluded the four-time All-Star, but as he continues to develop his game and establish himself as one of the best centers in the game, an MVP award is within his grasp. If he plays at that level again next season, don't be surprised if he's holding the trophy at the end of the regular season.

Matisse Thybulle's growth

Entering his third season in the league, Thybulle has established himself as one of the best and most versatile defenders in the NBA, averaging 1.6 steals per game last season, good for eighth in the league, as well as 1.1 blocks in just 20 minutes per game.

Thybulle played 51 of his 65 games coming off the bench, but the big question for him this season will be if he can force his way into the 76ers starting lineup. As he continues to blossom into a disruptive 3-and-D player, he'll need to consistently knock down shots from the perimeter.

After his 3-point percentage dropped from 35.7 to 30.1 last season, Thybulle will need to bring that mark back to a league average to try to replicate what Mikal Bridges has done in Phoenix.

5 games to watch

Oct. 22 vs. Brooklyn Nets

In just their second game of the season, the 76ers take on the star-studded Nets at home in a game that features five current All-Stars. These two teams battled for the No. 1 seed last season and will be among the top Eastern Conference teams again in 2021-22.

Nov. 9 vs. Milwaukee Bucks

There's no better measurement than going up against the reigning champions, and the 76ers and Bucks have put on some classic encounters in recent years, headlined by big performances from Embiid and Giannis Antetokounmpo. Milwaukee won all three meetings last season, so Philly will be looking to make a statement in front of its home fans.

Dec. 1 at Boston Celtics

A battle between two historic Eastern Conference rivals, the 76ers taking on the Celtics is always must-watch TV, especially at TD Garden. Last season, the 76ers won all three meetings with the Celtics thanks to some dominant performances from Embiid, who averaged 38.3 points and 9.0 rebounds on 60.4 percent shooting.

Dec. 3 at Atlanta Hawks

This will be the second meeting of the season between these teams but the first on the road at State Farm Arena. After the Hawks took out the 76ers in the second round of the postseason, Philly will be out for revenge in Atlanta.

March 23 at Los Angeles Lakers

The second meeting of the season between these teams takes place under the bright lights of STAPLES Center. The matchups make this game a must-watch between Simmons and LeBron James, Embiid and Anthony Davis, and not to mention Embiid and Russell Westbrook's ongoing battles. Get your popcorn ready.

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