Sixers preview: 11 bold predictions for 2018-19 NBA season

Philadelphia 76ers Markelle Fultz

The 2018-19 Sixers will begin the regular season on Tuesday night against the Boston Celtics.

Will they eclipse last season’s mark of 52 wins? Will they advance further than the Eastern Conference semifinals? Will Ben Simmons hit at least one 3-pointer this season? Will Joel Embiid be in contention for Most Valuable Player?

Here are some predictions to the questions above, along with much more, unofficial of course.

1. The Sixers didn’t improve much from last season in terms of free agency, but they still have a bevy of talent. They’ll win one more game to reach 53.

2. They’ll get eliminated in the Eastern Conference semifinals once again, this time in seven games to the upstart Washington Wizards. The Sixers could advance deeper in the playoffs. It’s possible.

However, for a hard-core prediction? They’re going out in the second round for the second straight season.

3. Simmons will knock down at least one triple this season and it won’t be a half-court heave. He may not be JJ Redick just yet, but he will make at least one.

4. Embiid will stay in contention for MVP for most of the season, but will finish third behind Kevin Durant and LeBron James. There is no shame in finishing behind that dynamic duo. The key for Embiid will be staying healthy, motivated and in condition through the marathon season. Embiid has all the skills and he should have an outstanding season, especially coming into the opener fully healthy for the first time.

5. Will Markelle Fultz play in at least 60 games? Yes. Playing is one thing. Thriving is another. There is quite a bit of pressure on Fultz, the former No. 1 overall pick, who played in only 14 games last season. He needs experience. Don’t expect Fultz to become a star. But expect him to at least be on the court, gaining coveted playing time.

6. Will Robert Covington remain on the team all season? Yes. Don’t be shocked if the Sixers make a major move or two next offseason, which would include moving Covington. For now, look for Covington to remain in the starting lineup.

7. Will Jimmy Butler join the Sixers? No. The asking price is too high.

8. Will Redick average at least three 3-pointers made per game? Yes. Redick looks as sharp as ever this preseason and he’ll get plenty of open looks.

9. Will Dario Saric play in the All-Star Game? No. That’s irrelevant. Saric is so vital to the success of this team with his all-out hustle and drive night after night. He’s the ultimate professional and the Sixers are lucky to have him.

10. Will rookie Zhaire Smith play in 2018? No. It seems almost normal for a Sixers rookie to suffer an injury and remain out for an extended period of time. There’s no reason to rush Smith back. Look for him in January of 2019.

11. Will T.J. McConnell receive any DNP CDs? Yes, only a few. McConnell just won’t go away and that’s good. His energy is contagious. McConnell has also become such a quality player off the bench. He’ll stay in the mix again.

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