No, the Philadelphia 76ers aren't going to win the NBA title this year, but that doesn't mean fans shouldn't be excited about their team.
Currently at 9-7, the Sixers would be the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference if the regular season ended today. That's a lot more than could be said about previous years' teams, which were often already out of contention by late November.
There are, of course, some major injury concerns for players like Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, and No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz is out with a shoulder injury, but this year's Philadelphia team is built in such a way it can handle an injury at a time.
Therefore, it's not unreasonable to expect the Sixers to end up in the postseason mix when the regular season is over. They're playing at that pace already, and should only continue to improve if everyone stays healthy.
It's still too early to expect them to make a long playoff run, but just making it to postseason play would be a big step for the much-maligned franchise.
Here are three reasons why this season will end in a playoff berth for the 76ers:
Ben Simmons is playing at an MVP level
No, the 76ers' former No. 1 overall pick isn't going to win the MVP award this year, but he's playing like an absolute superstar.
Through 16 games, Simmons is averaging 18.7 points, 9.2 rebounds and 7.6 assists per game. He's also adding two steals a night.
After missing his entire rookie year with an injury, Simmons has been more than worth the wait for the Sixers, who haven't had a ball handler like this since Allen Iverson.
If he can stay healthy and play at this level for a good chunk of the season, the 76ers should continue their playoff pace.
Joel Embiid is dominating both ends of the floor
Last year, we learned that Embiid was a force in the post, as he dominated inside and also developed a surprisingly effective outside shot for a big man.
However, this year, he's also taken a lot of pride in his defense. So far, he's averaging 10.9 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game, to go with a team-leading 22.3 points a night.
The Sixers are still being cautious with how much they play their star center, but when he's on the court, there aren't many big men who are better than Embiid.
The team's depth is better than in years past
Behind Simmons and Embiid, the Sixers have assembled a roster of capable players, headlined by the offseason signing of sharpshooter J.J. Redick.
Then there are Dario Saric, Robert Covington, T.J. McConnell, Jerryd Bayless and others, who are making a huge impact in support of Simmons and Embiid.
In years past, the Sixers' roster has been mostly filled with cheap players who probably didn't belong on NBA rosters. Now, though, Philadelphia has a competitive roster from top to bottom - one that will likely lead them to an Eastern Conference playoff berth this year.