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Youth is the key for the future of the Sixers

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Trust the process. Those three words that once defined an ominous team culture is now a battle cry that represents hope for the present and future. The Philadelphia 76’ers have two of the three favorites to win Rookie of the Year this season in Joel Embiid and Dario Saric. The heroics of Embiid this past season was the stuff of legends but his injury allowed Saric to showcase his skills after the All-Star break. Those two provide a stable foundation and Embiid is an unquestioned talent but Philly still has talent in the wings. Ben Simmons will qualify to be Rookie of the Year next season if he can return from the foot injury that sidelined him the entire 2016-2017 campaign. His development is key but there is the possibility that he can be brought along more slowly if Embiid and Saric can stay healthy themselves.

But wait there’s more.

The 76’ers are projected to have a top four selection in this year’s draft which should net them another potential Rookie of the Year candidate. The only prospect currently out of their range by most draft projections is Markelle Fultz which means guys like Lonzo Ball, Jayson Tatum, De’Aaron Foz or Josh Jackson could all be on the board in some mix that ultimately benefits Philly’s youth movement.

Ball is a bit of a long shot if the 76’ers do end up with the fourth selection, but no matter who they end up with, Philly would own some of the best young talent in the league following June’s draft. Arguably, only the Minnesota Timberwolves and Milwaukee Bucks would have a brighter immediate future.

The team has a ludicrously low payroll with just $50.8 in committed salary next season. Veterans Jeryd Bayless and Gerald Henderson will have the heftiest contracts next year as they are both owed $9 million on expiring contracts respectively. Those players could easily be moved but with all the youth on the roster the team would be wise to keep one of those guys around…especially if Elton Brand finally retires.

The 76’ers still have an Ace in the hole with the enticing talent of Jahlil Okafor. Well maybe it’s more like a 10 or a Jack than an Ace but Okafor has some value that could allow Philly to bolster their bench or overall rotation in the starting lineup. He’s only two years removed from being a top five selection and is just 21-years-old. Analytics lovers have written Okafor off but he can still help several teams out there.

In short, Philly could become a powerhouse team in a short time and the East needs some new blood. The process has started and it’s starting to resemble that of a caterpillar and butterfly.

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