The Philadelphia 76ers last qualified for the NBA playoffs in 2011-12, and have won a grand total of 109 games in the five seasons since.
76ers legend and current TNT analyst Charles Barkley is taking a bold stance on the team's immediate future, as he's predicting Philadelphia will be back playing meaningful basketball in 2017-18.
"If (Joel) Embiid is healthy and (Ben) Simmons is healthy, I think they’re definitely gonna make the playoffs," Barkley said Friday to CSN's Danny Pommells at the American Century Championship golf tournament. "Obviously the injury thing has really hurt them the last couple years. But if those two guys are healthy, I think both of them are terrific players. Now you've got (Markelle) Fultz, you've got J.J. (Redick). They've done some good things with the guys coming off the bench. (Dario) Saric was fantastic last year.
"If they don't make the playoffs, I'd totally be shocked."
The Sixers' chances will ride heavily on whether Simmons and Fultz - the last two No. 1 overall picks - can coexist. Fultz is expected to run the point, but the 6-foot-10 Simmons believes he's a starting point guard in the Association.
"One or the other is probably going to have to defer a little bit because they both want the ball," Barkley said of the duo. "They’re both dominant guys with the ball. I think coach (Brett) Brown is gonna have to really talk to them about that. That could be an interesting dynamic of their team because they're both ball-dominant guys and they both will probably have to sacrifice a little bit in that area."
With so many star players moving over to the Western Conference, like Jimmy Butler, Paul George, and Paul Millsap, there's certainly room for a team like Philadelphia to move up into the playoff picture, which Embiid tweeted would be the case once it was announced that George was heading to the Oklahoma City Thunder.