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Examining The Sixers Roster- Who Are The True Building Blocks?

The Philadelphia 76ers are still one of the youngest teams in the league and are still in the rebuilding process.  Rebuilds are never fun for those involved, whether it be the coaching staff, the players, the management, or the fan base.  The Sixers announced a trade today in which they dealt a young player with good potential in Jerami Grant.  Grant has tremendous athleticism and is a good defender.  He has an NBA body and good size to play both forward positions.  Grant hasn’t had much consistency with his shooting ability and that is probably a major part in the team deciding to deal him.   Grant will be joining the Oklahoma City Thunder and in return, the Sixers have acquired veteran forward Ersan Ilyasova and a partially protected first round pick.  If the pick falls within the top 20 in the 2020 NBA Draft, the Thunder will send the Sixers their own 2nd round picks in 2020 and 2021.  The deal is a solid one that is very fair to both teams in my opinion.  As a fan, I wonder if Grant was part of the long term picture or did the team think that the return for trading Grant was too good to pass on?  That got me thinking about the roster as a whole.   I am going to take a look at the entire Sixers roster as currently constructed and break it down into three categories based on how I see the players fitting in for the long run.  The first category will be players that I think will either be traded or released.  These players either aren’t good enough to stick around, are replaceable players, or players that there simply isn’t enough roster space for them in the future.  This category will also list players who are borderline keepers, but lean more towards players to release, trade, or let walk in free agency.   The second category is the players that I could see the team keeping and hoping to utilize in various roles, either as starters or role players off of the bench.  This category will also list players who are borderline keepers, but lean more towards players to keep on the roster.   The final category will only consist of two players.  These two players will be the building blocks or potential cornerstones of the franchise.

Category 1

Timothe Luwawu-Caberrot:  This was a tough choice because he has yet to play for the Sixers during his rookie campaign.  The potential is there, but he was far from impressive during the Summer League.  Luwawu-Caberrot seems like an athletically gifted player, but I don’t see him as anything more than a solid role player in the league.  I expect him to stick in the organization, but he will spend much of his time with the Delaware 87ers in the D-League, at least early on in his career.

Nerlens Noel:  Nerlens has the talent to stay on the roster, but the logjam in the frontcourt is a major cause of concern.  Embiid has shown signs of greater potential than Noel and Embiid has a far superior offensive game to go with good shot blocking and rebounding ability on the defensive end.  Noel has also spoken publicly about the frontcourt logjam and he doesn’t believe it will work out.  Noel has been hard to find this season in pictures of the team’s practices and I haven’t seen him on the bench at one game yet.

Sergio Rodriguez:  Sergio makes my list of borderline players to keep.  Sergio has looked pretty solid so far this season and I could see him being a player that the team keeps as a backup in the long run.  He is definitely a replaceable player, but he is also a player that can serve as a solid backup and one who can be a solid veteran presence on a young team.

Nik Stauskas:  This was a tough choice based on Stauskas’ solid play thus far.  I think that Stauskas is one of those borderline players to keep.  Nik can shoot the ball and has proven to be a little more athletic than many people expected.  Nik needs to play with consistency and shoot the ball well and he will have a good chance of sticking around with the Sixers.

Ersan Ilyasova:  Ilyasova was just traded to the Sixers, so it is unclear what exactly his role will be.  I think that Ilyasova is a solid veteran, but I don’t believe he is a long term solution.  He definitely has the skill to stick around with this team in the future, but I don’t know if he will or would even want to do so.   It is too early to tell.

Category 2

Jerryd Bayless:  Bayless has yet to play in a game for the Sixers, but his veteran presence is something you want on your team.  Bayless can shoot the ball at a high rate of efficiency and can play both guard positions.  Bayless will provide great veteran leadership and a player who can lead by example for the younger players.

Robert Covington:  I have Covington as a keeper.  He isn’t the most consistent shooter from three, but he shoots it pretty well.  He is a solid defender as well, but could get better on both ends.  I could see Covington being a solid three and D type of player off of the Sixers bench.

Gerald Henderson:  Gerald Henderson’s greatest asset to the Sixers moving forward will be his veteran presence and leadership qualities.  Henderson is a solid player in this league who brings a strong work ethic that he can pass down to the younger players.  Henderson is a pretty versatile player who could be a solid presence off the Sixers bench.

Richaun Holmes:  Holmes was a tough choice in the sense that there is a frontcourt logjam, but I think his hard work and energy gives him a good chance of being part of the long term plans and being a player that would be a very valuable asset off of the bench.

T.J. McConnell:  McConnell has looked really solid in his young NBA career and has far exceeded expectations for an undrafted player with very little athleticism or quickness.  McConnell brings high energy, toughness, and a leader’s mentality to this young team.  McConnell is definitely replaceable and/or upgrade-able, but I wouldn’t be angry with him as a backup point guard.

Jahlil Okafor:  Okafor is a very good offensive big who can hurt you with his post moves.  Okafor is a decent mid range shooter, but he could definitely improve in that area.  As hard as it is to believe, Okafor will probably be a bench player as of now, but could be a starter alongside Joel Embiid if they end up playing well together.  Okafor could also be a potential trade chip if the team feels like they can get a good return back for him and if Embiid and Simmons both live up to the hype and potential.

Dario Saric:  Dario Saric finally has joined the Sixers.  His adjustment to the NBA game and style of play will be his toughest test, but he seems like he is up for the challenge.  I think people had too high of expectations for Saric.  Even before he came to join the Sixers, I felt he would only be a solid role player off the bench and nothing more.  Regardless of how well he adjusts to the game, I don’t see him being much more than that during his NBA career.

Hollis Thompson:  It feels like Hollis Thompson has been on the Sixers roster forever.  He is a solid role player who can shoot the ball pretty well and knows his role on the team.  His shooting ability is good enough were he should be able to keep his roster spot in the long run and be a solid contributor off of the bench.

Category 3

Joel Embiid:  Joel Embiid has battled injury woes before his career even began, but he appears to be healthy now and playing at a very high level.  The Sixers are going to continue to have a minutes restriction on him for most of, if not the entire season and in my opinion it is a smart move for a team that is expected to yet again be one of the worst teams in the league.  Embiid probably won’t play in any back to back games on consecutive nights.  As I previously mentioned, Embiid has already shown greater all around potential than Nerlens Noel and looks like he will be better than Jahlil Okafor as well.  Embiid is that hard to find athletic and strong big man that doesn’t appear all that often.  Embiid has All Star and superstar potential and if he stays healthy, he should have a great chance of maximizing his potential.  The most impressive thing about Embiid is his strength and conditioning training.  In his lone season as a Freshman at Kansas, Embiid only had an athletic built and didn’t appear to have much strength.  Fast forward about three years later and Embiid looks like a legitimate NBA player and a dominant presence on the floor.

Ben Simmons:  Ben Simmons had a lot of hype and pressure while attending LSU in his lone season as a freshman.  It appeared to be a red flag when a player with his talent couldn’t even lead his team to the NCAA Tournament.  Simmons showed flashes of All Star potential during Summer League and his play making ability is off the charts for a player his size.  Simmons has the athleticism and quickness to get by defenders, get to the hoop, and draw fouls.  Ben’s major weakness is his poor shooting ability.  NBA defenders will sag off of Simmons and force him to shoot the ball.  Simmons will provide the Sixers with a point forward on the floor, but don’t be surprised to see him running the point guard spot in the future.  Simmons potential is sky high, but the key for him is to get healthy first.  Once Simmons gets healthy and ready to play, I expect the Sixers to limit his minutes to ensure that he doesn’t re-aggravate his most recent injury.  Embiid and Simmons are definitely the building blocks/franchise cornerstones and hopefully they can both reach their potential and make Philadelphia 76ers basketball great again!

 

Author: Nick Eberhardt

Image From Clutch Points

 

 

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