Disappointment and outrage grip Sixers nation this week. Understandable.

But there is hope.

What if the Sixers get ... better? They can.

Every shortcoming the team displayed in its 12-game playoff run can improve. Every single one. They might lack championship DNA — there’s no analytic for heart — but they certainly have championship components.

It won’t be easy. The Sixers live in an Eastern Conference whose best teams will remain viable for the rest of Joel Embiid’s, say, four-year prime. Boston’s great, Milwaukee’s better, and Miami will be very good as long as Jimmy Butler’s cooking, but that’s OK. Embiid is still the player with the highest ceiling in the NBA. That gives the Sixers a chance to thrive — under the following conditions.

Embiid finishes The Process

Two years ago, the birth of his son, Arthur, and a desire to win the Most Valuable Player award pushed Embiid to abandon social media, to bury his feuds, and to commit himself more fully to conditioning. He also developed a repertoire of moves from 18 feet and closer the likes of which we haven’t seen since Hakeem Olajuwon, but with greater range.

This was a good first step. The next steps:

  • Show up in excellent shape. He left college eight years ago, but he has never been in NBA shape.

  • Work on the core muscles of his body, which will increase his stability. This, in turn, will allow him to better establish post position. It also will improve his balance, which is crucial for a player who operates in space as much as he does. He falls far too often.

  • Be a stable, available leader for his team. Great leaders accommodate and amplify the people around them, ask for no recognition, and assume blame for all failures. See: Tim Duncan.

» READ MORE: Sixers need Joel Embiid to become a leader and a warrior in the playoffs

Harden evolves his game

There is a possibility that the Beard can be a better basketball player in his waning years than he ever was in his physical prime. In his Houston heyday, Harden was a selfish foul magnet who ignored defense and rebounding. If Harden applies his tremendous basketball IQ to becoming a better all-around player — first goal, averaging fewer than 3.5 turnovers per game, which he’s never done in his 10 seasons as an NBA starter — he can run a championship team.

In the past month we learned that Harden, at 32, cannot play the sort of offensive game that won him the 2018 MVP award. We also learned that Harden can be a fantastic asset when he plays more like Chris Paul than like Kevin Durant. His one-turnover performance in Game 1 against the Raptors previewed what he can be.

With a better midrange game, a better catch-and-shoot game, and with quicker recognition of exotic defenses and pressures, Harden can be an All-Star for the next four seasons.

» READ MORE: A max contract is a non-starter for the Sixers and James Harden, but so is parting ways

Thybulle develops a 3-point shot

At this point, Matisse Thybulle, the team’s best perimeter defender, is more of an offensive burden than Ben Simmons ever was. This is absurd.

The Sixers’ greatest developmental deficiency in the past three seasons, when they drafted Thybulle, is the neglect of Thybulle’s shooting. He hit just 30.7% of his three-pointers the past two seasons. He made 4-of-14 in the playoffs, or 28.6%. The league average is usually around 36%. Thybulle’s poor shooting limited his minutes to around 15 per game in the playoffs. He should have played 25.

In a lineup that includes Embiid and Harden, who draw double teams like honey draws flies, there’s no reason Thybulle shouldn’t be at least an average three-point shooter. None. He can be as valuable a three-and-D player as Shane Battier and Robert Horry.

Maxey understands basic defensive concepts

Tyrese Maxey’s defensive lapses run the gamut. He forgets bullet points, such as which players to not leave open or which players to follow over the tops of screens. His spacing is often abhorrent, and his defensive rotations often just don’t happen.

All of this is fixable, and it needs to be fixed, because the Sixers cannot afford to have both a point guard (Harden) and a shooting guard (Maxey) who are defensive liabilities.

Also, Maxey needs a better mid-range, pull-up jumper.

Harris keeps on keepin’ on

The Sixers might trade Tobias Harris, but they shouldn’t. His defense against Pascal Siakam was the difference in the first-round win over the Raptors. He’s most comfortable producing off the dribble, but he modified his game to accommodate the Embiid-Harden-Maxey cartel.

And, in these playoffs, Harris became the team’s conscience. Its voice. It was Harris who challenged the Sixers’ effort, maturity, body language, and mentality.

Like him or not, he’s the only grown-up in the locker room.

Rivers stays above the fray

In his first year, Doc Rivers did a fine coaching job with a new team in a weird season with a broken point guard.

In his second year, Rivers did an even better job, in a normal season, without a point guard, whose absence caused a major distraction until after the trade deadline — at which point Rivers incorporated Harden, with his bad hamstring, lost two key players to a trade, and dealt with Embiid’s two playoff injuries.

Critics highlight Rivers’ past playoff collapses and manufacture false narratives about struggles to win in late-game situations, but the reality is, Rivers has been a pretty good coach in Philly.

He did a poor job of holding his temper. This makes you dislike him. This warps your evaluation.

Rivers was challenged last season in regards to Simmons’ issues, and, eventually, he attacked the questioners. He was challenged this season in regards to blowing leads, his playoff failures, and playing time for backups. Again, eventually, he attacked the questioners.

Not only does this affect Rivers’ approval rating, it also sends a message to the locker room that attacking questioners is permissible, no matter how unprofessional.

It’s hard to preach professionalism when you don’t practice it.