For the Philadelphia 76ers, Friday marks the second debut of a big change to the roster in the 2018-19 NBA season. After acquiring Jimmy Butler very early in the year, the Sixers used the trade deadline as a way to revamp their roster and starting lineup while also overhauling the bench. Additions of Tobias Harris, among others, point to the team going completely into win-now mode as they focus on pushing for an NBA title this season.
With the Sixers making multiple deals along with the one which brought Harris, Boban Marjanovic and Mike Scott to town from the Los Angeles Clippers, they also dealt Markelle Fultz. While the former No. 1 pick wasn’t playing as of late due to a shoulder injury, it shows the focus general manager Elton Brand has on this season.
Philly’s new-look group will debut (for the most part) on Friday in a nationally-televised game against the Denver Nuggets. Although there were a handful of trades the Sixers made at the deadline, the statuses of both James Ennis and Jonathan Simmons remain up in the air. What we do know is that the former Clippers trio are expected to make their debut.
Let’s dive in and look at the status of the Sixers’ new faces as well as their roster and projected starting lineup ahead of the Nuggets matchup.
Latest on Debut of Tobias Harris, Other New Additions
As mentioned previously, the trio from the Clippers is expected to make their debut on Friday. That comes at a good time as well, considering the Sixers have listed Joel Embiid as questionable due to an illness. If Embiid misses this game, Marjanovic would be thrust into a fairly large role.
Beyond that, former Orlando Magic guard Simmons seems unlikely to make his debut. The same stands for James Ennis after he was acquired from the Houston Rockets. Both players will likely need at least one more game but could debut on Sunday against the Los Angeles Lakers.
UPDATE: Kyle Neubeck of the Philly Voice reports that James Ennis is expected to make his debut for the Sixers.
The new-look Sixers may lack a bit of depth against Denver, specifically at the guard/wing position without Simmons, who was since ruled out. In turn, this could lead to big minutes for the starters and two or three key second-unit players.
Sixers Roster & Starting Lineup vs. Nuggets
*Notates expected starter
C: Joel Embiid*, Boban Marjanovic, Amir Johnson
PF: Tobias Harris*, Mike Scott, Jonah Bolden
SF: Jimmy Butler*, James Ennis Furkan Korkmaz
SG: JJ Redick*, Haywood Highsmith
PG: Ben Simmons*, T.J. McConnell
UPDATE: Joel Embiid is dealing with the same illness JJ Redick had which held him out of multiple games, per Noah Levick of NBC Sports Philadelphia. He’s currently listed as a game-time decision.
UPDATE NO. 2: Joel Embiid is set to play Friday.
It wouldn’t be surprising to see the starting five log big minutes here, but Marjanovic and Scott should both also see decent minutes. Scott could fill the role previously held by Mike Muscala as the main stretch-four off the bench. Another name to watch Friday will be T.J. McConnell due to the Sixers’ lack of depth at the guard spots.
While McConnell already plays consistent minutes, he’ll be thrust into a slightly larger role not just for this game, but possibly beyond as well. On the season, the 26-year-old guard has averaged 21.1 minutes while posting 6.5 points, 3.9 assists and 2.3 rebounds per game. He’s shooting 54.2 percent from the field.