The Sixers continue their preseason tonight at 7:30 pm against the Charlotte Hornets. After what could only be described as molly-whopping the Guangzhou Long-Lions, the Sixers look to continue that against another sub-NBA team. This game should be a great chance to see some of the players on the back end of the roster.
Players like Jonah Bolden, Zhaire Smith, and of course, Matisse Thybulle. The Sixers have a young bench, which is not a negative as long as the youth can play. In addition, we should see what the roster looks like in an important specific scenario.
Know Your Enemy
The Hornets are in the midst of a rebuild that will, to put it politely, require a lot of patience. Kemba Walker walked right out of the Spectrum Center in the cold lucrative arms of the Boston Celtics. Not to fear Hornets fans as Terry Rozier came to the rescue signing a deal that is much more terrifying than “Scary Terry”. The rest of their money is locked up in a litany of terrible contracts.
When trying to be positive, the Hornets do have some young interesting talent headlined by super dunk man Miles Bridges. A problem for them that Sixers fans can identify with is that their two best young players both play the same position. Both Miles Bridges and P.J. Washington are at their best when playing Power Forward. I think Washington will be a solid player but Charlotte needs a hero and one was draft just a pick later (Tyler Herro).
The Young and the Hungry
Considering this is a preseason game against the Hornets, we should see plenty of our young players. Jonah Bolden played well in limited minutes during his preseason debut. Scoring six points in only nine minutes, Bolden made sure to get his own. I’d like to see him continue that and be a force rebounding the ball. I don’t know that Bolden will be able to crack the rotation this year but progress could lead to him either becoming the heir to Mike Scott or a valuable trade piece.
Against the Long-Lions, Zhaire Smith had an opportunity to show why the Sixers traded for him. I’m sure if you asked Smith he would say that he didn’t play to his standards. Smith also didn’t see a ton of action playing only 11 minutes, that should change tonight. An athletic defender, Smith could easily be a part of the Sixers’ longer-term plans, especially if he adds a three-point shot. Last year was surely a frustrating one for Smith as he went through so much that interfered with his rookie season. Tonight he should have a chance to bounce back.
Pay close attention to Matisse Thybulle tonight. Thybulle showed all of us last game that he, in fact, does have NBA level potential. His defense was stout and his ability to impact every aspect of the game was clear. Thybulle will be a key member of this squad for years to come and tonight we get another chance to see him as he begins his young career.
You Can Call Him Al
Joel Embiid is getting the night off due to scheduled load management which is something you should get used to. More and more teams will be taking “the Kawhi Leonard approach” and it should be helpful come playoff time. It will be interesting to see the lineup Coach Brown goes with tonight as he as a few options with a versatile roster. I would love to see Al Horford move to Center and Thybulle move into the starting lineup.
Horford has played Center for a large part of his career even though he fits well as a Power Forward. Part of the reason Horford was signed (aside from his talent) is his position versatility. It’s no secret that Joel Embiid has not been the most durable Center during his career so having a player of Horford’s talent and versatility is crucial. Typically the unsung hero of his team Horford will most likely be relegated to his usual role as such. We can’t forget the importance he plays though as he could be a difference-maker between a second-round exit and the Finals Whether filling in for Embiid, spacing the floor, or being part of a dynamic duo in the post, Horford will be a fun player to watch.
Tonight may not be the most important game but there’s still plenty of reason to watch. No Joel Embiid is not playing but that’s the beauty of having a talented roster. We have plenty of players worth watching and some young guns who may get major minutes. Not to mention, Ben Simmons could also shoot more threes. Sit back, relax, and enjoy your Philadephia 76ers.
Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports