Only 4 games in to the season it is obviously too early to tell for certain where this team stacks up but it is at least still fun to talk about. The Sixers are 1-3 to start the season with their lone win coming against the pistons, there are many reasons to be optimistic.
Embiid already had his first 30-point game of the season and Simmons has his first career triple-double, only 4 games in. The JJ Redick signing is proving to be huge, he can hit it from anywhere.
The bad new right now is that Fultz is going to miss some time due to injury. There are conflicting reports about exactly what he is suffering from right now but all we know is that it is a shoulder injury. He has been playing through this injury throughout the duration of the season which presumably is a significant factor for his struggles and HOPEFULLY his bad free-throw form. This injury is not going to hurt too much because Fultz was starting the season coming off of the bench anyway and he is likely to miss only 10 games, not significant. After 4-5 years of having our top picks missing full seasons, which is unprecedented, I say we could live with 10 games.
Part of why people are thinking this team can be at least an 8th-seed this season is because of how different the competition in the East is compared to the West. It is a tougher road traveling through the Western Conference.
Lets not forget, the process started circa 2013 with the Jrue Holiday trade because this team was a perennial 8th seed. What makes this team so much different than the pre-process teams is that the ceiling is much, much higher. Assuming Embiid starts playing without a minute restriction, he starts playing back-to-backs, and his conditioning is where it needs to be, this team could be something special a early as this season. By far the worst lost of the season came in the lone game that Embiid did not play in, that is not a coincidence.
Honestly I feel for Brett Brown, he has both the easiest and most difficult coaching job in the entire NBA. The only thing that makes it easy is that the team has had no expectations for years giving him the ultimate job security that so few have. The down-side is that he has been stuck practically coaching an entire new team every season since he got hired, no easy task for any coach regardless of pedigree.
The Sixers can range anywhere from having another lottery pick to squeaking into the playoffs as the 8th seed, and if they get hot, they could end as one of the top teams (assuming every one is healthy, this is the more unlikely option.)