Sixers training camp begins Tuesday. There are are a few things to watch out for, from the suspected starting lineup to Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor’s health. Let’s take a look at some key headlines before training camp gets underway.
Robert Covington’s Role
Brett Brown all but confirmed to the media that Robert Covington is expected to be in the starting lineup come opening night. He stated that not only does he see Covington starting games, but also ending them.
Covington has become one of the best “3-and-D” players in the league. Even though he had a slight shooting slump last year (33.3% from deep compared to a career 35.4%), his shooting percentage should increase again thanks to the many open looks he will receive from playing with Simmons and Fultz.
With Brett Brown wanting Covington to start and finish games, he will have to work harder than ever on the defensive end to give his team a boost in the closing moments of the games. So now that Covington is considered to be a lock in for the starting lineup, what happens to Dario Saric?
Dario Saric’s Role
Saric had a great rookie season. He averaged 12.8 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.2 assists while shooting 41.1% from the field. He will have to improve his 3 point shooting (31.1%) and his defense if he wants to become a better player.
Saric will come off the bench and be the Sixers sixth man this year. His overall production should go up with him leading the second unit as well as playing with better talent. Saric can provide that much needed spark off the bench for a team that will attempt to fight it’s way into a playoff berth.
Joel Embiid’s Health
Training Camp begins Tuesday and Joel Embiid has yet to be cleared for 5-on-5 drills. Bryan Colangelo stated that they will take a “hyper-conservative progression” with Embiid in regards to playing time and any possible restrictions.
Embiid also happens to be in contract negotiations with the team. Colangelo said that the two sides expect to reach an agreement on an extension by the October 16 deadline. Should the Sixers extend Embiid to a max or close to max contract in hopes that he will stay relatively healthy or not?
He hasn’t proven that he can stay healthy even though he played like a beast last year, averaging 20.2 points and 7.8 rebounds through 31 games. Will he be cleared for the preseason? If so, will he even play? Will he be cleared for the regular season? I could keep going on and on with questions pertaining Embiid’s health. We will simply have to stay alert for news from the team as they release more and more information.
Jahlil Okafor’s Health and Role
Another big man with health concerns. Okafor’s health issues aren’t nearly as big as Joel Embiid’s. He did sit out the final 32 games of the season due to a knee issues. He also missed the last 29 games his rookie season because of the same thing.
However, Okafor has reportedly lost 20 pounds this offseason and is in the best shape of his life, mostly thanks to a new vegan diet. If this is the case, the weight loss should relieve some serious pressure off his knees and possibly allow him to play more games.
If Joel Embiid is ready at the start of the season, Okafor might not have that many opportunities to showcase his improved self since he will most likely be behind Embiid and Holmes on the depth chart. However, if Embiid isn’t ready to go opening night, Okafor should have every chance to earn more playing time by showing off his talents. This could be a make or break season for Jahlil Okafor.
The Sixers will be under a microscope come training camp. The media and fans will be watching closely as they get ready to start the season. We will be watching Ben Simmons as he preps for his first season, as well as watching his chemistry with Markelle Fultz, who he will be sharing the playmaking responsibilities with. Training camp will reveal many things to us. Let’s just hope good things come out of it rather than bad.