It's fair to say the 2017-18 NBA season couldn't have started any better for the Philadelphia 76ers after the years of disappointment that took place beforehand, as they look well on their way to booking themselves a playoff spot.
The 76ers are currently in 7th spot in the Eastern Conference with an 8-6 record on the season after most recently defeating the Los Angeles Lakers 115-109 at the Staples Center on Wednesday night, with Joel Embiid producing a performance for the history books.
Embiid finished the game with 46 points, 15 rebounds, seven assists, and seven blocks, becoming the first ever NBA player to record that stat line in a game since blocks became official in 1973-74. In reality, however, that's only a sliver of what they have been able to produce this season.
The 23-year-old was dominant all over the court, and the Lakers couldn't handle him. The man himself said in his post-game interview that he was only at 69% of what he is capable of doing, so imagine what he could be like at 100%. Expect more performances like this throughout the rest of what looks set to be a very promising season.
Alongside the Philly center, the team also has another player with huge potential in Ben Simmons, and the two of them are becoming one of the most dominating duos in the Eastern Conference. He finished the game against the Lakers with 18 points, nine rebounds, 10 assists, five steals and one block in 39 minutes.
In the past nine games with the Sixers going 7-2, the power forward has averaged 18.6 points, 8.8 boards, 7.9 assists, 2.2 steals and one block per game. He's showing he has the potential to be one of the best at his position in the league, as is Embiid.
It's recently been reported as well that the 76ers have enough confidence in Robert Covington that they're close to finalizing a four-year, $62 million extension with the small forward, who has been absolutely perfect for the team in their system this season.
This team looks like it could break the 76ers' streak of missing out on the postseason for the past five years. The Eastern Conference this year isn't very strong, so this could be a great season for them to capitalize on that factor, as they have the squad to do so.
With how well Philadelphia is playing, should we consider the 2017-18 season another failure if the team fails to make the playoffs once more, especially after this very promising start?
The only thing that might hinder the team from reaching the postseason, as it has done in years past, is the fact they're not at full strength once more, as their number one overall pick of the 2017 draft Markelle Fultz is currently on the sidelines with a shoulder injury.
In the four games which he played before his shoulder injury got too much for him to handle, the point guard managed to average six points, 2.3 rebounds, and 1.8 assists per game.
Not impressive stats, but he was averaging 23.2 points a game during his time in college with Washington, so the potential to do better is there. However, Philly may miss out on using this talent if he is out for a considerable amount of time.
Arguably as well, the team is still in rebuild mode as the roster is still very young and still developing. They only have three players that were born in the 1980s on the roster. It's still a very young side that doesn't have a lot of NBA experience, as well as chemistry with one another, and this could have a knock-on effect on their postseason hopes.
While it might be disappointing for fans if the 76ers fail to make the playoffs once more, this season should be an indication that good times are coming for the franchise. They have several talented players that just need to get used to one another and the NBA to become a force in the Eastern Conference. All the fans need to do is have a little trust in the process.