The Sixers finally look ready to attack the upcoming NBA season. From the drafting of Ben Simmons to the long awaited arrival of Dario Saric, it’s a new era in Philadelphia. But there are still some questions over how the starting five is going to look come opening night.
Projected Starting Lineup:
PG Ben Simmons
SG Zach LaVine
SF Gerald Henderson
PF Dario Saric
C Joel Embiid
Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid are the future of the Philadelphia 76ers, and they have to be on the floor, full-go for the opener. Simmons is pretty much a lock, but it may confuse some to see his position. After watching his two summer league performances you can already see that the Sixers see him as the primary ball handler. Furthermore, Brett Brown has said that he envisions the 6’10” rookie as the future point guard of the Sixers. So Simmons is penciled in as the point guard for the beginning of the season. Embiid, on the other hand, to be ready for the season or the Sixers will have to think twice about his future. The reports right now suggest that he will be able to suit up, so the fingers are crossed as we put him in at the 5 spot.
Henderson is a “3 and D” veteran that balances out this lineup. He has Philly roots and figures to be a mentor to this young, inexperienced team. Saric has evolved from a pass first, point forward into a stretch four over the last couple of years which crowds the front court even more, but he is much more versatile than both Noel and Okafor.
Now on to the most surprising aspect of this starting five. As free agency winds down, teams will be turning to the trade market to fill their needs and further build their rosters. This will also be the time where the Sixers will ramp up their efforts to trade Nerlens Noel or Jahlil Okafor or both. Minnesota is an ideal trade partner for the Sixers because of their crowded backcourt and needy frontcourt. Ricky Rubio is probably the guy that the T’Wolves would prefer to trade but they may overvalue him and he simply is not a fit for the Sixers. Although there were reports that Kris Dunn is available I would be shocked if Tom Thibodeau were to send him packing. He seems to be everything that Thibodeau wants in a guard. . His athleticism as a guard is elite and his shot continues to develop. He does not need to dominate the ball to play well, making him a good compliment to Simmons.
Jahlil Okafor is not necessarily a fit for the T’Wolves but Nerlens Noel could be. One of the things that Minnesota lacks is a dominant defensive presence down low to compliment Karl-Anthony Towns and Noel has to potential to develop into that kind of player. Towns could easily slide to the power forward position and allow Noel to blossom into the defensive force that Minnesota needs. Noel would give Minnesota perhaps the most well rounded and talented young team in the NBA.
Noel is not the only Sixer being sent to the Timberwolves. LaVine may not be better than Noel at this moment, but he has a much higher ceiling, and all indications say that he might reach it, meaning that the T’Wolves would want more. Minnesota could also use a young “3 and D” wing player and luckily, the Sixers will be able to help them sending over Robert Covington. So the final trade is Noel and Covington for Zach LaVine.
LaVine finally gives the Sixers a young up and coming guard and gives the Sixers another valuable young asset who can grow with Simmons and Embiid.
C Jahlil Okafor
PG Jerryd Bayless
SF Jerami Grant
PF/C Richaun Holmes
PG T.J. McConnell
SG/SF Hollis Thompson
SF Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot
SG Nik Stauskas
PG Kendall Marshall
Okafor makes it through the offseason still in a Sixers uniform. As the season goes on, the Sixers would be wise to try and put Embiid and Okafor on the court together as much as possible to see if they could cohabitate, but at the start, Okafor comes off the bench. As the Sixers ease Embiid into the NBA game, Okafor is going to log more minutes than the former Kansas star but as the 6th man.
Jerryd Bayless was a strong pickup for Bryan Colangelo, and he will be able to back up both guard positions. Jerami Grant and Hollis Thompson are still young and have opportunities to turn into nice role players. First round pick Luwawu will figures to be the guy to take over Covington’s role as a versatile wing player with a 3 point shot. After impressive summer league performances, McConnell and Holmes will make the team and offer solid minutes off the bench. Lastly Stauskas and Marshall are under contract and they may as well be kept but they really do not offer anything beyond this season.
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