The Philadelphia 76ers look to start training camp on October 3rd in Fort Hill, Colorado, at Colorado State University. The team will spend about three days on the campus of CSU for Nick Nurse’s first rendition of camp. Nurse and his staff will be instituting new plays, philosophies, and sets during their time at Fort Hill.
Not only will there be a lot of learning for the entire roster, but there will also be plenty of battles for rotation spots on the line. There are certainly guaranteed spots for players like Joel Embiid, Tyrese Maxey, PJ Tucker, and Tobias Harris, but the rest of the rotation is up for grabs. Take a look at three training camp battles to watch for:
The Backcourt Battle for Minutes
Assuming James Harden does not return to the 76ers during training camp to play, the coaching staff needs to iron out who will be getting minutes in the backcourt. Tyrese Maxey and De’Anthony Melton are projected to be the starters, but who gets the majority of the minutes when those guys are on the bench?
Nurse’s strategy on the rotation will likely determine the backcourt minutes and whether Maxey or Melton will be in the game at all times. If both will be sitting, who will get those minutes? There will be a three-way battle for two possible spots for bench rotation minutes. The three players who will be getting after it in camp for spots include Patrick Beverley, Jaden Springer, and Terquavion Smtih.
With Pat Bev’s resume, one would assume he would be the first guard off the bench leaving the two youngsters battling it out. Smith was signed as an undrafted free agent and signed a two-way deal with the 76ers, allowing him to play in Philly and in Delaware for the Blue Coats. Smith impressed in summer league and during the legendary Rico Hines runs in Los Angeles. Smith gained a lot of confidence this summer, and his shooting could be an asset on a team headlined by a 7’0 center who will see a lot of double teams.
Springer, who just turned 21, has made strides this summer as well. After not seeing the floor much during his first two seasons, Springer looked to work on his offense before the start of the new year. He has always been given praise for defensive tenacity and ability by former coach Doc Rivers, but his shooting and offense left a lot to be desired.
If he truly has taken a step forward offensively, could it win him some playing time in the 76ers’ rotation? He already has the athleticism and strength to be a contributor on defense, but he has to be able to keep teams honest on the offensive end. Smith and Springer will be fighting for a chance to bring a spark to this team, but only one of them is likely to earn minutes. The other will likely be spending the majority of their time leading the G-League affiliate.
Who Will Be Left Standing on the Wings?
For a team that lacked depth on the wings for years, the 76ers finally have some options to choose from. Although there may be some older vets vying for minutes, Nurse will give everyone an equal opportunity to make a name for themselves in his rotation. Tobias Harris and PJ Tucker are almost guaranteed to both be in the starting lineup, so who will be fighting for the remaining minutes?
Danny Green, Danuel House Jr., Furkan Korkmaz, and Kelly Oubre Jr. will all be fighting for minutes on the wing for the 76ers. Kelly Oubre Jr. brings some athleticism and above-the-rim play to a team that doesn’t have many players who play above the rim. His offensive efficiency has been in question the last few seasons, but playing for a contender with a defined role could help with that.
House and Korkmaz both return from last year with equal amounts of frustration for not playing as much as they wanted to. House played earlier in the season but then lost time in the rotation, while Korkmaz didn’t get called upon much at all. Korkmaz was so frustrated with his role that he requested a trade at last year’s trade deadline. Both will be given an opportunity to show they can make an impact with this new staff. Korkmaz’s movement, shooting, and playmaking ability could make him more valuable in an offense that is going to be predicated on ball movement.
Danny Green was signed to a non-guaranteed contract this offseason and needs to show that he has something left in the tank. Green was a marksman for this team in the past, and his familiarity with Embiid, Maxey, Harris, and Nurse could give him a leg up. If Danny is healthy and can move around on defense, I would bank on Green coming in and stealing minutes on the wing for the 76ers.
Battle of the Bigs
The question that 76ers fans have been asking for years is, “Who will back up Joel Embiid in the playoffs?” This has often been discussed during Embiid’s tenure in Philadelphia because the drop off of talent on offense and defense was so large that it skewed Embiid’s off/on numbers so much. Last season the 76ers went with Montrezl Harrell for much of the season and finally decided to give Paul Reed a chance in the spring. Reed showed much improvement and impact when given consistent minutes and ended up with a nice payday this summer. With Reed’s return and the signings of Mo Bamba, Filip Petrusev, and Azuolas Tubelis, the front court is crowded.
BBall Paul’s role will likely change in Nurse’s system this upcoming year, which will see him backing up Embiid and getting minutes at power forward. Nurse is trying to “unlock” Reed, and playing him next to Embiid will only help the 76ers out defensively. Reed has also shown strides in improved shooting, so you can count on him getting a large chunk of time.
The remaining minutes will be for Mo Bamba because of his versatility as a shooter. He can space the floor, and Nurse has a history of playing two bigs together. Petrusev and Tubelis will likely be fighting for a spot as the third center or auditioning for the Delaware Blue Coats.
With the first preseason game slated for October 8th in Boston, this camp will go a long way to determine how things shake out in the preseason and regular season.