Saturday, July 1, 2017

Predicting the Philadelphia 76ers Starting Lineup

The recent signing of J.J. Redick has brought even more attention and intrigue to the Philadelphia 76ers. Not only does this give them a veteran presence but it also gives them the shooting threat that they desperately needed. Another thing that this does is put into question exactly what the starting lineup will look like for the Season Opener. Assuming that Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid are locked in as starters, which is a safe bet as long as they are healthy, who fills in the other 3 spots? Looking at the roster the way it is currently constructed (and it is pretty much set the way it will be minus another veteran signing or two), there is 3 starting spots open for 5 players to potentially fill them holes. These 5 players are Robert Covington, Dario Saric, Markelle Fultz, J.J. Redick and Jerryd Bayless. All 5 of these guys have strong cases for them to start as well as reasons why they should be coming off the bench.

Robert Covington
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RoCo is the most likely on this list to find his way into one of those 3 spots and that is well deserved with how well he has developed his game. He signed with the 76ers as a streaky shooter with scoring potential who had very little else going for him to a potential 3 and D staple to this team. When things were going well for the 76ers last year, Covington was normally guarding the oppositions best player and doing it with relative success. The biggest reason Covington could find himself as the odd man out would be if they see more value in his versatility coming off the bench. He would realistically be able to replace 3 positions in the starting lineup depending on who enters the game with him and who he is replacing.

Dario Saric
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Prior to the 76ers making that blockbuster trade that landed them Markelle Fultz, it looked as though it was a lock for Dario Saric to be a starter. A lot has changed since then. With the additions of Fultz and now J.J. Redick, Dario could find himself in the role that most see him being the most effective long-term, and that is as the 6th man. Although Covington does bring versatility, the thought that Saric could come in at the 3, 4 or 5 positions depending on how you design the lineup as well as the possibility of moving guys like Simmons, Fultz and Covington to multiple positions when he enters the game, makes it likely that he finds himself in that 6th man role earlier than expected.

Markelle Fultz
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Following the draft, Brett Brown had named Ben Simmons and Fultz as the starting back-court for the 76ers, this may not have changed with the J.J. Redick signing but it may have switched the layout of the starting lineup a little bit. In a small lineup, Fultz could be listed as the small forward or Ben Simmons could be listed as the Small or Power Forward even though he will be responsible for the ball handling abilities. Fultz, as the #1 pick, is expected to start for Philadelphia and would really have to show that he is not ready to be sent to the bench. If he does not seem ready, they do have other options but I find it really hard to believe that he does not take one of the 3 remaining starting spots.

J.J. Redick
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The signing of J.J. Redick for 23 million dollars should all but solidify his candidacy into the starting lineup as he easily is the team's best shooter and will be a veteran presence for the team out on the court. But I will play devil's advocate here and give reasons why Redick should be coming off the bench. Since he has signed for one year, the thought process may be to develop chemistry throughout your future starting 5 if you believe you have all 5 players on the roster right now. Another reason would be his lack of defensive ability which could get in the way of how the 76ers want to play which is with defensive intensity and to get out on the run with long and versatile players, which J.J. is neither.

Jerryd Bayless
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Bayless was the odd man out in my original lineup prediction and makes it even less likely now with the signing of J.J. Redick but let's look at why him starting would actually be a smart move. With the inexperience of Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz in the back-court, another ball handler in Jerryd Bayless would be a welcome addition in the starting lineup to keep things under control when things inevitably get a little erratic with such young players together in the lineup. The obvious reason for him not being in the starting lineup is to be completely honest, he is not as talented as some of the other players nor apart of the future of this team so his presence could be felt just as much off of the bench.

Predicted Lineup
Ben Simmons - Markelle Fultz - J.J. Redick - Robert Covington - Joel Embiid

Do you agree or disagree? Who would you name as the starting five? Comment on the article and give us your feedback. Let's discuss.

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