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Ennis III: ‘We are going to walk to the Finals in the East’

With free agency only now starting to wrap up, and Las Vegas Summer League still going strong, we’re firmly in offseason mode right now in the NBA. But apparently it’s never too early to start thinking about next season, especially for James Ennis III.

The swingman re-signed with the Philadelphia 76ers this summer, agreeing to a two-year, $4.1 million deal with a player option for the second year. In an interview on Wednesday afternoon, he explained his decision to stick around in Philly with quite a bold statement.

“Because it’s a good team, and a good chance of winning,” Ennis said. “The East is going to wide open. We had a good chance last year. Kawhi is gone. He went to the West. So we are going to walk to the Finals in the East.”

Well then.

To Ennis’ credit, the Sixers project to be quite good next season. They lost Jimmy Butler, but managed to swing a sign-and-trade with the Miami Heat to get Josh Richardson in return, re-signed Tobias Harris and added Al Horford.

They will likely run out a starting lineup of Ben Simmons, Josh Richardson, Tobias Harris, Al Horford and Joel Embiid, which is about as talented as it gets, and they have the potential to be excellent on the defensive end.

However, they also lost JJ Redick, who was a key cog in their offense, are once again short on shooting and have some question marks about their depth. Plus, there are some concerns about shot creation in the halfcourt and who they give the ball to late in close games. Last season, that responsibility fell to Butler, who is of course no longer on the team.

So while the Sixers are clearly among the best teams in the Eastern Conference, they are by no means perfect. Plus, there’s a guy named Giannis Antetokounmpo to deal with. The Milwaukee Bucks were the best team in the league last regular season, and the reigning MVP and Co. are going to be out for redemption after falling short in the Eastern Conference finals. There’s no doubt they’ll have something to say about who gets out of the East.

In any case, even if the Sixers were by far the clear favorites in the conference — which they aren’t — there’s really no upside to Ennis coming out and making statements like this. All it does is add to the immense pressure this team is already going to be facing. Plus, as a role player, Ennis isn’t exactly the guy who’s responsible for cashing the check that he just wrote, which makes it even more of a questionable decision.

Courtesy: CBS Sports

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