The rapid development of center Joel Embiid and point forward Ben Simmons has put the Philadelphia 76ers on the map as an intriguing destination for marquee free agents next summer. And there could be no bigger talent out there than four-time NBA MVP LeBron James, who can opt out of the final year on his current deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers to hit the market once again.

After a shaky first couple of weeks, the Sixers (9-7) have steadily climbed up in the Eastern Conference standings thanks to strong performances from Embiid (22.3 PPG and 10.9 RPG) and Simmons (18.7 PPG, 9.2 RPG, and 7.6 APG).

The scary thing about this young Sixers squad is that they still have plenty of rooms to grow.

2017 NBA Draft first overall pick Markelle Fultz hasn’t played major minutes because of a shoulder injury, while last year’s Rookie of the Year runner-up Dario Saric and big free agent acquisition J.J. Redick are still struggling to find their shots. Yet, there’s a certain level of enthusiasm surrounding the Sixers’ 2017-18 NBA season.

LeBron is monitoring Sixers’ growth

According to a source within LeBron’s camp, the Sixers’ process has now caught the star’s attention. Although it’s uncertain whether the Sixers have already supplanted the Los Angeles Lakers as the predominant front-runner for James (should he leave the Cavaliers next summer), Philly has certainly worked its way onto his short list of potential landing spots.

A report by The Big Lead relayed this information.

Keep in mind that the Sixers have the capacity to sign a max-level free agent next summer after locking up two-way player Robert Covington on a much cheaper deal ($62 million over four years).

Philadelphia has two sizable expiring contracts on their payroll (Redick at $23M and Amir Johnson at $11M), and general manager Bryan Colangelo could create even more space if he finds a way to trade a combination of Jerryd Bayless ($17 million over two years) and Jahlil Okafor ($5 million) for another expiring deal before the midseason trade deadline in February.

James, who is still pretty much in his prime (28.3 PPG, 7.4 RPG, and 8.5 APG), would speed up the Sixers’ process at a historic pace, turning them from a promising middle-of-the-pack playoff contender in the East to a surefire championship contender right off the bat. Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype is also fascinated with the prospect of having Simmons, Embiid, and James on the same team as he believes the trio alone would be too much for the Golden State Warriors in the paint.

Jaylen Brown on pace to becoming an All-Star

The 21-year-old Brown is turning heads in his second NBA season after an underwhelming rookie campaign. The former No. 3 pick is averaging 16.2 points and 6.7 rebounds in 32 minutes per game while holding an impressive shooting line of 46.6 percent from the field, 40.2 percent from the three-point line. Defensively, Brown has filled in the void left by All-Defensive team member Avery Bradley as he has become a suffocating on-ball defender through the first 18 games of the season.

Brown’s impressive play on both ends is making Celtics general manager Danny Ainge look like a genius by not pulling the trigger on the trade for Chicago Bulls’ stopper Jimmy Butler or Indiana Pacers winger Paul George.

Brown would have been included in the trade package for both stars, but Ainge’s hesitancy to strike a deal, along with Gordon Hayward’s injury, opened the door for Brown to step up and seize every opportunity he gets this season.

Right now, Brown looks like a lock to be an All-Star for the first time in his career. His chance at making it in the Eastern Conference All-Star team would improve dramatically if the Celtics sustain their hot run over the next three months. The team that clinches the top seed by midseason traditionally receives three to four spots on the All-Star team. Moreover, with perennial All-Star wingers George, Butler, and Carmelo Anthony now in the Western Conference, Brown may have an easier path toward grabbing an All-Star berth in the East this year.