There has been so much uncertainty with the Philadelphia 76ers this offseason, including who would be on the roster. There were rumors of a Tobias Harris trade, and then came an actual trade request from James Harden. Now that the season is upon us, after training camp and preseason, who has solidified their spot in Nurse’s rotation?
James Harden has reportedly returned to Philadelphia to ramp up for the season after spending 10 days away from the team, and his return has added some murkiness to the rotation. Nurse mentioned before that he had six starters on his team, this was including Harden, but before Harden returned, he said, “It might be down to five, yeah.” Let’s look at Nick Nurse’s potential rotation for the season:
76ers Rolling Without Harden
It sounds like this will be the 76ers starting lineup without Harden during the early two-game road trip to start the season. It will also be the starting lineup if Harden continues to sit out of games until he is traded. Nurse’s offense is expected to have more ball movement than the 76ers have had in recent years, but this team goes where reigning MVP Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey go. Embiid, Maxey, and Harris will anchor the scoring for the starting lineup.
Nick Nurse rides his stars, and it showed last year. The Raptors had three players in the top 20 in minutes per game last season. Expect him to play Embiid, Maxey, and Harris a lot of minutes, and wouldn’t be surprising if Maxey leads the league in minutes.
Paul Reed looks like he will be an important part of this rotation this upcoming season solidifying himself as the backup center, and he will be playing minutes at power forward. Kelly Oubre has also played himself into a prominent role off the bench. He will likely be counted on to be the top scorer off the bench and guard the opponent’s best offensive wing when he is out there.
Two veterans have also played their way into the rotation with their play in the preseason. Patrick Beverley will be a defensive spark for this team off the bench and can find himself in some spot starts this season. His leadership on and off the court could help a team that sometimes loses mental focus during games. Danny Green has shown he can still play and, more importantly, shoot the ball. His willingness to have a quick trigger and familiarity with the starters could be the difference in him getting a spot in the rotation or not.
The biggest surprise in this rotation is the presence of Jaden Springer. He has played very well during training camp and preseason, forcing Nurse to have to include him. Veterans on the team have sung nothing but praises about Springer. If he can continue to play great defense and knock down a good percentage of open threes, he can solidify his spot.
Just Missed the Rotation
Danuel House Jr.
Mo Bamba didn’t have the best preseason and didn’t do enough to claim the third center spot over Filip Petrusev. Petrusev had two solid preseason games against Brooklyn and Atlanta, and I’m sure there will be chances for them to try to lock down that role during the season. Danuel House Jr. just missed the rotation for Danny Green but could play his way back into it if Green shows he can’t keep up in the regular season. Furkan Korkmaz’s injury didn’t set him up for success to be able to get a spot in the rotation, but Nurse may use him in a pinch if he’s looking for shooters.
If James Harden does return to the team, he would replace De’Anthony Melton as the second starting guard, pushing Green out of the rotation most likely. Nurse has a lot to handle with this team, but he seems like the coach most equipped for this situation.