Sixers face lack of depth in the second rotation
Philadelphia looked prepared to make a splash this summer. After losing in the second round last season it seemed like the team was one or two players away from finding success. Nobody expected the Sixers to lose depth, especially in the second rotation.
Although the team had a decent run in the playoffs, key bench players still wanted out. Ersan Ilyasova and Marco Belinelli were spark plugs off the bench, providing buckets when needed. It is sad to see them leave considering the 3-point depth they brought to the second unit.
J.J. Redick decided to sign on for another year but it won’t be enough. At times the Sixers offense lacked a shooter with the ability to create his own shot. Ben Simmons handled the ball beautifully, however, his inability to shoot hurt the team down the stretch.
This caused major problems within the starting five and even the second unit. Teams had an easy time shutting down role players and shooters when Simmons couldn’t get anything going offensively. One of the reasons Ilyasova manned the second unit is his ability to shoot the ball and create his own shot.
Although the second unit looks less than it did last season, there are still a couple of bright spots on the bench. Head coach Brett Brown will have to make the subs work together to find consistent offense off the bench.
Belinelli took to Twitter to announce his return to the San Antonio Spurs:
I’m back!!!! pic.twitter.com/pafNbIhTWw
— Marco Belinelli (@marcobelinelli) July 21, 2018
The new faces of the Sixers bench
Unless Philadelphia makes a trade before the deadline, they will have to rely on their current bench players. Wilson Chandler and Mike Muscala are both newcomers this offseason. Chandler is coming off an abysmal season with the Denver Nuggets.
Last season, Chandler scored 10 points per game, 5.7 less than he did the year before. This isn’t a great sign for Philly, however, a change of scenery could be the difference maker for the sharpshooter.
At times in his career, Chandler has been the prototypical ‘3 and D’, player. He averaged nearly .42 percent from deep in 2012. If he gets back to form, the 76ers would have a devastating shooter coming off the bench. It won’t be too hard for Chandler to find minutes as a backup unless Markelle Fultz returns to pre-injury form.
Muscala is coming off the best season of his career. Last season for the Atlanta Hawks he averaged 4.3 rebounds and 7.6 points per game. He even broke 20 minutes per game for the first time in his career. Although he isn’t expected to produce much, the fight for minutes at the backup center position will be competitive.
Philadelphia signed back up center Jonah Bolden to a 4-year contract last week. Muscala is a veteran, however, he will have his hands full with the lengthy center from UCLA.
Many Sixers fans are split over the addition of Chandler and Muscala:
Sixers are dangerous with the signings of Muscala and Bolden plus the acquisition of Wilson Chandler, Drafting Zhaire Smith and the development of first round draft pick Furkan Korkmaz and #1 overall pick Markelle Fultz. By the second half of the season they will be insane.
— Leader Johnson (@WriterLeader247) July 25, 2018
Sixers really wanted Bron and or Kawhi and have to settle for Wilson Chandler. Terrible offseason for them lol
— ?N-jay ?? (@_Njay3) July 18, 2018
Does the Sixers second unit match up with other Eastern Conference teams?
Although Philly only needs so much production from its bench, its a necessity with players like Joel Embiid who require rest. If the bench can’t hold some of the scoring load, there will be a lot of close games with weaker teams.
In the East, the Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors are the kings of bench depth. Despite DeMar DeRozan being traded to the Spurs earlier this week, the Raptors were able to keep their role players.
Delon Wright and Fred VanVleet were two of the most productive bench players in the league last season. In Toronto, Vanvleet averaged 8.6 points a game while Wright had 8 points per game.
Toronto isn’t going anywhere next season, especially with the addition of Kawhi Leonard. Sixers fans should expect a grueling series with the Raptors if the teams were to meet in the playoffs.
Boston, we have a problem
Over in Boston, the Celtics have a formidable second rotation of their own. With the return of both Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward from injury, some of the previous starters are moving back to the bench.
This includes ‘Scary’ Terry Rozier who took the playoffs by storm and possibly Aron Baynes who had a solid season. Nobody expected the leap that Rozier made last season, especially in the playoffs. Rozier was a star coming off the bench last season. The most promising thing about Rozier is the intensity he brought every single game, even when asked to play as a starter.
Jaylen Brown was sensational last season and improved his game in every facet. At times in the Eastern Conference Finals last season, he would easily get by LeBron James on drives to the basket. It is scary to think how great the Celtics will be with their new starting lineup.
The Sixers definitely have their hands full next season. Although the team hasn’t made any big free agent acquisitions so far, they still have their core players intact. If fans find themselves worried about the second rotation, they just have to remember the NBA’s best-kept secret: Markelle Fultz with a jump shot.
Markelle Fultz’s trainer thinks he’s 100 percent season ready:
— vince (@trashassvince) July 22, 2018
Featured Image: RSH3339, via Flickr.
Stats via basketball-reference.com.
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