What’s up, peeps?

I’m hoping y’all have had a great work week and will have an even better weekend. The undermanned 76ers will have to dig deep to be able to do the latter with the Los Angeles Lakers in town. The Sixers (29-17) will host the Western Conference leaders (36-9) at 8:30 p.m. Saturday at the Wells Fargo Center.

While some will point to the Sixers’ 20-2 home record, the Lakers boast the league’s best road mark, 20-4. Plus, the Sixers are down two starters in Joel Embiid (left hand) and Josh Richardson (left hamstring) and don’t have a deep bench. So this could be a tough test against perennial All-Stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis and a Lakers squad that has won 10 of its last 12 games.

You’re signed up to get this newsletter in your inbox every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. If you like what you’re reading, tell your friends it’s free to sign up here. I want to know what you think, what we should add, and what you want to read, so send me feedback by email or on Twitter @PompeyOnSixers. Thank you for reading.

— Keith Pompey (offthedribble@inquirer.com)

The Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James, left, and Anthony Davis were both voted NBA All-Star starters.
Kent Nishimura / MCT
The Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James, left, and Anthony Davis were both voted NBA All-Star starters.

Harris’s NBA All-Star bid

Is Tobias Harris an NBA All-Star?

That’s a legitimate question for a player who’s the X-factor for the Sixers’ success.

Sure, Embiid is the team’s unquestioned franchise player while Ben Simmons is regarded as the second best. Yet the Sixers are tough to beat when Harris gets going. He’s averaging a team-second-best 19.3 points, which ties his second-highest scoring average over his nine-year career. And the Sixers are 3-1 when the 27-year-old scores 31 or more points this season.

However, the Sixers’ place in the Eastern Conference standings could prevent him from being an All-Star. It would be hard to justify a sixth-place team, one that has underachieved, having three All-Stars.

Thursday, Embiid became the franchise’s first player to be voted to start in three consecutive NBA All-Star Games since Allen Iverson did it seven straight times, 2000-06. The All-Star reserves, selected by the league’s coaches, will be announced next Thursday. Simmons has a great chance to get chosen as a reserve for the second straight season. That, unfortunately for Harris, will probably exclude him from playing in the Feb. 16 game at the United Center in Chicago.

All-Star starter snub Jimmy Butler (Miami Heat) and Bam Adebayo (Miami) and Khris Middleton (Milwaukee Bucks) are guys who could get voted as conference frontcourt players ahead of him. Milwaukee has the NBA’s best record. The Heat have the conference’s second-best record, and those two players have contributed to that success.

Tobias Harris shoots during a practice.
JOSE F. MORENO / Staff Photographer
Tobias Harris shoots during a practice.

Starting five

Great Zion

New Orleans Pelicans opponents better hope Brandon Ingram is wrong.

“I don’t think we’ve seen anything yet,” Ingram told reporters Wednesday night about the NBA debut of teammate Zion Williamson.

Williamson finished with 22 points and shot 8-for-11 — including making all four of this three-pointers — in 18 minutes, 18 seconds of action. Seventeen of his points came during a 3-minute, 8-second stretch of the fourth quarter.

“He’s special,” Spurs guard DeMar DeRozan told reporters after San Antonio defeated the Pelicans, 121-117. “Anybody who has followed basketball the last two years and seen the talent he has … Hope he can stay healthy and be able to put it together. The sky is the limit for him.”

Pelicans forward Zion Williamson reacts after making a three-point basket against the Spurs.
Gerald Herbert / AP
Pelicans forward Zion Williamson reacts after making a three-point basket against the Spurs.

Important dates: Next Five Flow

Tomorrow: Los Angeles Lakers at Sixers, 8:30 p.m., ABC

Tuesday: Golden State Warriors at Sixers, 7 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia

Thursday: Sixers at Atlanta Hawks, 7:30 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia

Feb. 1: Sixers at Boston Celtics, 8:30 p.m., ABC

Feb 3: Sixers at Miami Heat, 7:30 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia

Passing the rock

Question: Why does Simmons get so little respect from national media, given his extraordinary talents. Doris Burke is one of the few exceptions. And I get the 3 point shooting, but come on. — @jwrneriii on Twitter

Answer: Good morning, Jerry. Thanks for the question. I will have to disagree a little with your assessment that Simmons receives so little respect from the media. He did finish third in the media voting compared to eighth in fan voting for the coming All-Star game.

However, I do think people — media including — want more from the 6-foot-10, 250-pound point guard. That’s only because he shows flashes of greatness one game then takes a backseat the next. I also think the video released last summer of him shooting might have been one of the worst things that has happened for him. It created an expectation that he would launch more three-pointers this season. However, he has attempted only five. So, fair or not, there’s a sense that he isn’t living up to the type those videos created.

Sixers point guard Ben Simmons leads the NBA in steals (2.2 per game) and is fifth in assists (8.5).
YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Sixers point guard Ben Simmons leads the NBA in steals (2.2 per game) and is fifth in assists (8.5).