The Philadelphia 76ers have continued to “Trust The Process”, but it is now time for this process to lead to more success on the court. The Sixers feature some great young talent at the core and have added some nice veteran pieces for leadership and guidance. As always, the team’s health is the key factor in the Sixers’ success. Here. we will examine the projected starting lineup for opening night. Nick Eberhardt and Tylar Pomroy weigh in with their projections for each player on the roster, their team overview, and the Sixers playoff chances.
Starting Lineup For Opening Night
Point Guard: Jerryd Bayless- Jerryd Bayless barely played last season due to injuries, but is another veteran presence that can be utilized as a starter at both guard positions or as a top player off of a team’s bench. Bayless gets the nod at point guard after it was already determined that Markelle Fultz is going to begin the season on the bench. Expect him to play a nice role for the Sixers in the long run. (Nick)
Shooting Guard: J.J. Redick- The Sixers had a lot of money to spend this past summer and much of that was spent on one of the league’s best shooting guards in J.J. Redick. Redick isn’t just a knockdown shooter, but hold a high basketball I.Q., and his veteran presence will greatly benefit the Sixers. Being the leader of a young team will be a new and important role for him, but he seems more than capable of taking that on. I expect a huge season out of Redick. (Nick)
Small Forward: Robert Covington- Covington has flown under the league radar for some time now as a legitimate three-and-D player. Bob can either make or break the Sixers late in games, but his skillset and drive are hard to come by. Arguably the best defender on the team, Covington may not be an everyday starter if Saric can make a case for himself. (Tylar)
Power Forward: Ben Simmons- Ben Simmons hasn’t played an NBA regular season game yet, but it is quite evident based on Summer League last year and preseason this year that Simmons has shown he is very comfortable with the ball in his hands as a playmaker and a facilitator. Even though Bayless is going to be the point guard in terms of players positions, Simmons will be running the offense for the majority of the season. For a player his size to have that type of court vision is truly a rare thing to have. Although Simmons isn’t a good shooter, he is going to be able to use his athleticism to get to the hoop and draw fouls. The question is whether or not Simmons is going to make his free throws at a high rate. He is easily one of the frontrunners for NBA Rookie Of The Year. (Nick)
Center: Joel Embiid- Embiid’s health has been the big question mark throughout his basketball career and will continue to be until he can prove that he can stay healthy. If he is healthy, he is without-a-doubt the best player on the Sixers, one of the best centers in the league, and one of the best young players in the league. Joel will more than likely be on a minutes restriction once again, but if he can play about 50 games, the Sixers can get into the playoffs and possibly be selected to his first All-Star team. (Nick)
Markelle Fultz (Guard)- The past few weeks with this rookie point-guard have been a wild ride. From recent elbow soreness that looks to have affected his shot, to the unhealthy Chick-Fil-A obsession – fans have begun to question his drive to develop. The team recently announced that 2017 number-one overall pick is going to come off the bench to start the season. Missing Fultz would break the balance of scoring and playmaking Sixers within the starters. While other rookies have been more memorable during the offseason, Markelle still has time to get over this hump. Maybe the lack of star treatment shown towards Markelle will be a good thing. For now, his legacy lies in his own hands. (Tylar)
Justin Anderson (Forward)- At this point in his career, Anderson has pretty much been valued as a solid defender with some driving ability. Even though he still has plenty of time to grow at just 23 years old, it wouldn’t make sense for the Sixers to include him with the long-term. With a team option coming up at the end of this season, it will be up to management to determine whether they keep him on board or add a vet in his place. (Tylar)
Richaun Holmes (Forward/Center)- Richaun Holmes has continued to be impressive thus far in his young career. The second round steal out of Bowling Green has played great basketball and is willing to do the hustle and dirty work needed to win ball games. Holmes is an athletic big man who has continued to improve his outside shot as well. He’s outshined Jahlil Okafor most of the time and should be the first power forward/center off of the bench. (Nick)
Amir Johnson (Forward/Center)- Amir Johnson is a solid big man off the bench who will provide mostly rebounding and shot blocking for this team. He has a solid mid-range jumper as well. His greatest asset will be his experience and veteran leadership that he will provide to a team that has lacked a veteran presence for most of the rebuild. It is refreshing to see that they finally have that. (Nick)
Furkan Korkmaz (Guard/Forward)- Korkmaz has shown signs of being a solid young player. He has nice shooting touch and seems like he could be a versatile offensive threat. The key for Furkan is to add strength to his slender frame so that he can get to the hoop and finish. Becoming a better defensive player is also an important part of getting playing time at the NBA level. Furkan is still very young and is a work in progress, but he can at least provide shooting off of the bench for now. With that said, I expect Furkan to spend a lot of his time with the Sixers G-League Affiliate (formerly known as the D-League), the Delaware 87ers. (Nick)
Timothe Luwawu-Caborrot (Guard/Forward)- Another player caught in the heap of talent at the SG/SF spot, TLC is capable of putting up big numbers out of nowhere. Towards the end of last season he was putting up close to 20 points per game and never slacked off on the defensive end. However, this did cause him to often wind-up in foul trouble, thus hurting the rest of the team. A true slasher with all the athletic ability in the world, Luwawu just has to find a way to gain more weight. (Tylar)
James Michael McAdoo- (Forward/Center)- It was only a matter of time before Colangelo brought in a championship-winning player. While that player may be James Michael McAdoo who came off the bench to win with the Warriors, it’s still a valuable addition for the time being. McAdoo’s on a two-way contract, so some of his time spent will likely be with the 87ers. With all the injuries that the Sixers racked up last season adding depth couldn’t hurt their chances for 2018. (Tylar)
T.J. McConnell (Guard)- T.J. McConnell has continued to defy the odds and prove the doubters and haters wrong. For a guy that most people didn’t expect to be an NBA caliber player, he has carved out a good career so far. McConnell joined the Sixers as an undrafted rookie and made the team. From day one, he provided a veteran-like presence even as a younger player in the league himself. McConnell isn’t going to jump out of the gym and wow you with his athleticism, but he will provide this team with a steady presence at the point guard position and a player that has shown the confidence to have the ball in his hands in crunch time. I expect McConnell to be a great backup on this Sixers team. (Nick)
Jahlil Okafor (Center)- Jah’s back and looking like his rookie-self but he still won’t fit the system. After being the team outcast for all of last season, Okafor went vegan and now he looks like a completely different player on the court. A traditional post-up center in the completely wrong team system won’t bode any good for the rest of the team but it’s nice from a fan perspective to see improvements. (Tylar)
Jacob Pullen (Guard)- Jacob Pullen had a very successful college career at Kansas State. Pullen hasn’t had an opportunity to make it or play on an NBA roster. He has spent the majority of his career playing in the NBA G-League and also has a two-way contract where he can spend a set amount of days at both the NBA franchise and the G-League franchise. Most of Pullen’s time will be spent with the Delaware 87ers of the G-League, but utilizing him in practices with the Sixers and possibly suiting up for games were there is injury issues or fatigue might be his best chance to see time with the Sixers. His development is important to follow as he could eventually have a bench role with the Sixers down the line. (Nick)
Nik Stauskas (Guard/Forward)- Even though a considerable amount of the Philly fanbase believes that his time here is nearly over, Stauskas is still next in line at the wing after Covington. Does he have the credentials to back this spot up? Not really. His shot percentage isn’t outright terrible but he’s often eating up valuable minutes. Having some experience puts him over Korkmaz, having a three puts him over Anderson, being safer on defense puts him over TLC. It’s only a matter of time before Stauskas is moved. (Tylar)
Nick and Tylar’s Potential Eastern Conference Playoff Bracket
- Cleveland Cavaliers
- Boston Celtics
- Washington Wizards
- Milwaukee Bucks
- Toronto Raptors
- Miami Heat
- Philadelphia 76ers
- Charlotte Hornets
The Sixers Playoff Chances: The Sixers need a lot of things to happen in their favor in order for them to make the playoffs. If the team stays healthy, it is possible. The division winners are all guaranteed a playoff spot, so that more than likely takes away three chances for the Sixers as they will not win the Atlantic Division. That will most likely be handled by the Celtics in the Atlantic, the Cavaliers in the Central, and the Wizards in the Southeast. Teams like the Bucks, Raptors, and the Heat are all above the Sixers in terms of playoff chances. However, the 7th and 8th seeds are up for grabs between the Sixers, the Hornets, and the Pistons. We originally had the Pistons as the 8th seed, but I think that the addition of Dwight Howard could give the Hornets a slight edge over the Pistons.
Nick’s Team Overview: The Philadelphia 76ers on paper have taken multiple steps in the right direction. The first step is starting a season with everyone healthy, or at least in condition to play and contribute to start the season. The highly anticipated debut of duo Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons is finally going to be a reality. The young core looks really good on paper, but the most important additions to this team were adding veteran leadership in Amir Johnson and J.J. Redick. I think that Redick could have a great season and possibly have the best one of his career. The Sixers chances to make the playoffs are dependent upon the health of Joel Embiid. With Embiid healthy, the Sixers are a totally different team. This squad has a shot at the playoffs, especially if they get 40-45 wins this season. As of now, I am going to say 30-40 is more like it due to the uncertainty of Embiid’s health.
Tylar’s Team Overview: Let’s just get this out of the way now, the Sixers ARE a playoff team. No matter what Bill Simmons or Lakers fans try telling you, the Eastern Conference looks like blockbuster shelves when the store was going out of business. Even a completely Embiid-less Sixers team could compete with the rest of the conference. While Ben Simmons might not make his free-throws and Markelle is in the process of adjusting to the big leagues, this roster has depth. The casual fan might not know who Furkan Korkmaz, or even who Richaun Holmes is but there’s plenty of talent beyond the projected starting five for 2017-18.
Within the starting five, there’s a balance that fans haven’t seen in years. Each player compliments one another. JJ Redick will remind every one of his presence with corner three’s and Dario will come out of nowhere with the weekly highlight play. Ben Simmons will be the ROTY and will play over 60 games this season. No one will be able to take away from Embiid but himself.
Authors: Nick Eberhardt And Tylar Pomroy
Image from Bleacher Report