Analysts and fans differ when it comes to predictions about the Philadelphia 76ers’ chances of barging into the NBA Playoffs. Nevertheless, they are one in suggesting that the Sixers have a better chance this time around.

In addition to their picks during the last four NBA Drafts, the Sixers managed to sign two NBA veterans: Amir Johnson and JJ Redick. But more importantly, the Sixers have youthful and energetic players that will become the foundation of the Sixers’ future.

ESPN recently finally released their latest edition of #NBArank (the list only includes players from Top 11 to 100 as of this writing).

These players were chosen based on their projected contributions to the team's ability to win games. Among the 90 players already named, four were coming from Philadelphia: Markelle Fultz (86), Ben Simmons (84), Robert Covington (55) and Joel Embiid (32).

Defensive specialists

Embiid was initially locked down to bag last season’s Rookie of the Year award. When he finally played his first season with the NBA, the third pick overall in the 2014 NBA Draft was a force to reckon with on the floor even with limited playing minutes. Alas, Embiid can only muster 31 games after succumbing to season-ending a meniscus tear in his left knee.

According to ESPN, Embiid has a better 3-point shooting percentage than Reggie Miller did as a rookie, higher block percentage than Hakeem Olajuwon and second only to Wilt Chamberlain for points per 36 minutes (rookie) in NBA history.

Embiid averaged 20.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game.

Covington has started all 69 games he played last season only means one thing -- he has earned the trust of head coach Brett Brown. His offense may not sit somewhere near other small forwards in the league like LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Kawhi Leonard, but his defense is topnotch.

As proof, he led the league in Defensive RPM (4.32) and ranked seventh in RPM (3.55) last season according to ESPN Statistics. Among the players who were included in ESPN’s ranking last year, Covington’s jump from No. 162 from last year to No. 55 this year is one of the biggest jump in the rankings, second only to Lou Williams.

The rookies

Simmons’ status remains a mystery after not attending the Summer League. We saw him play during last year’s Summer League where he averaged 10.8 points, 7.7 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game. Some experts and fans suspect his prolonged absence may still be attributed to his broken right foot.

If Simmons and Embiid will have limited playing time, it’s up to this year’s top rookie pick, Markelle Fultz, to complete the job. Expected to assume the starting point guard role for the Sixers, Fultz is an asset on both ends of the court.

In his lone year with the Washington Huskies, he averaged 23.2 points and dished 5.9 assists per game. Yet he is also one tough defender, having a 6-foot-10 wingspan.

According to ESPN, he was able to shut down opponents to just 1-for-14 in isolation, averaging 1.6 steals and 1.2 blocks per game.

Rounding up the Sixers’ #TrusttheProcess rebuilding are Jahlil Okafor and Dario Saric. While the two were excluded from the #NBArank, their contribution to the team’s ability to win should be taken seriously by other teams, or they’ll pay the ultimate price.