The summer of 2015 is now over and it certainly won’t go down as the most memorable off-season for Philadunkia nation. Outside of the solid, and exciting selection of Jahlil Okafor in June’s draft and a intriguing trade for shooting guard Nik Stauskas, the summer was without a whole lot of positive news. The team did little in free agency, it was announced that prized 2014 Draft pick Joel Embiid would miss a second consecutive season, shrouding the rest of his career in incertainty; and maybe worst of all for fans, the team lost Malik Rose to Atlanta’s front office.
While the team is expected to improve this season, thanks largely to the addition of Okafor and the development of Nerlens Noel, the hopes of the fanbase still lies in the future. While the summer of 2015 was slightly underwhelming, the summer of 2016 could be a very big time for the Sixers.
The team is slated to have four potential first round picks, including a potentially high lottery pick from the Lakers, and picks from the Thunder and Heat, in addition to their own. The Sixers also have the right to swap first round picks with the Kings next summer, and Sacramento appears likely to be a high lottery lock. These picks will provide plenty of opportunity for the franchise to add to its arsenal of high-caliber talent.
The likely addition of Dario Saric in 2016 adds to the summer’s potential talent influx. Saric, who was selected in 2014, has been seasoning overseas, and projects to be able to contribute immediately upon arrival. Saric is a multi-faceted forward who will be able to play several positions for the Sixers, and add to the overall depth of the team as they climb back into contention. Saric’s arrival is another thing for Sixers fans to look forward to next summer.
Saric’s draftmate Joel Embiid may finally be able to hit the hardwood next summer as well. After missing the first two seasons of his career, Embiid’s NBA future is cloudy, but if he is able to fully recover from his second surgery, we can look forward to him preparing to play next summer. Although he won’t play in summer league, and the team doesn’t even expect him to play before October, we will at least have a much better idea of if Embiid can actually be a viable piece of the puzzle moving forward at that point. If, by next summer, he is still unable to play, the franchise will unfortunately have to seriously consider his future. Hopefully though, next summer will mark the true start to Embiid’s career, and at that point he will be able to begin to prove that he was worth the wait.
The Sixers should have copious cap space in the summer of 2016 as well; potentially enough to sign two max-contract players. For the first time since Hinkie took over, the team may be actively looking to sign free agents at that point to pair with the young talent they have already acquired and developed. The 2016 free agency class is loaded with talent, including guys like Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard, and Harrison Barnes. Maybe the Sixers will finally utilize some of that cap space to sign some top tier talent.
While improvement is expected in the 2015-16 campaign, the summer of 2016 could mark the true start of team’s ascension to contention.
Michael Kaskey-Blomain is a scribe for Philadunkia. You can follow him on Twitter @therealmikeKB.
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