LA, Cleveland Or…Philly? Comparing LeBron's Best 2018 Free-Agency Options

The two teams that seem best suited to build a team around James are the 76ers and Lakers. One NBA executive noted that if James leaves the Cavaliers, the Sixers make the most sense if the veteran forward wants to get back to the Finals. The Golden State Warriors aren’t going anywhere anytime soon in the West.

It’s the emergence of Philadelphia center Joel Embiid that has opened many eyes. After missing most of his first three seasons, Embiid is a Most Valuable Player candidate, according to a straw poll conducted by Tim Bontemps of the Washington Post.

“Embiid is something else,” said a Western Conference scout.

Two years ago, the same scout said he liked the Lakers’ youthful core of Julius Randle and D’Angelo Russell more than the Sixers’ trio of mismatched big men (Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor and Embiid). Russell has since been dealt to the Brooklyn Nets, Noel was traded to the Mavericks and Okafor is on the outside in Philadelphia.

Now that scout is looking at what the Sixers are doing with greater admiration, especially with Ben Simmons (who missed his initial season with a foot injury) as the clear front-runner for Rookie of the Year.