Sixers Veteran Reveals ‘Biggest Thing’ Needed to Win Championship

Georges Niang, Joel Embiid, De'Anthony Melton

Getty Georges Niang and De'Anthony Melton fight for a loose ball in a preseason game versus Cleveland.

The Philadelphia 76ers are very much a work in progress. Head coach Doc Rivers would be the first person to say that, on the record or off it. He is still feeling guys out while tinkering with different lineup combinations.

It’s mostly a fluid situation, but one thing seems certain: the Sixers won’t have a traditional all-bench second unit. They are going to mix and match to the best of everyone’s abilities. Rivers’ first subs in the preseason finale included Georges Niang, Montrezl Harrell, and De’Anthony Melton. They teamed up with starters Tobias Harris and James Harden at the end of the first quarter, then Rivers swapped Tyrese Maxey for Harden and Danuel House Jr. for Harris.

After Wednesday’s game, Rivers wouldn’t tip his hand. But the head coach (Happy Birthday, Doc!) admitted that he wanted to have at least two of his starters (between Harris, Harden, Maxey, Embiid) on the floor together on the second unit.

“You should try and have two on the floor. By doing that you will shorten your rotation,” Rivers said. “I also love when you have a 10-man rotation, like when you have two different [5-man] units. I don’t know if this will be that team.”

Yes, it’s good to have this kind of depth and talent.

“I think the biggest thing with this team is we have depth and most teams that compete for championships have depth,” Niang told reporters. “And you just have to show up every day and realize that someone may go down or somebody may not be playing well and when your number gets called you have to be ready to answer that bell. And I think everybody on our team is well aware of that and will be ready when their number gets called.”

Niang, who rehabbed from a knee injury this summer, scored 6 points in 15 minutes while going 2-of-3 from deep. He had a quick trigger. He had active hands on defense. He had a bounce in his step. And, after the game, he had jokes.

“We’re undefeated, pal,” Niang said when a reporter asked how the team looked. “There are some things we need to work on. Honestly just knock the rust off. It was good to have Joel [Embiid] out there for an extended period of time and not having compounded mistakes.”

Backup Center: Montrezl Harrell vs. Paul Reed

Turns out, the backup center spot was the most overhyped battle of training camp. Montrezl Harrell and Paul Reed are both going to see the floor, sometimes in tandem at the 4 and 5, as the Sixers look to keep Embiid rested.

Guess what? Neither one has a problem with it. Those guys have checked their egos at the door. And they have no designs on replacing or replicating Embiid.

“We just go out and do what we’re supposed to do, man,” Harrell said. “We’re just trying to keep the energy at a high level when big dog comes off the floor. We don’t come in trying to fill big dog’s shoes.”

Reed added: “I just need to make sure that I’m doing what I need to do and taking advantage of it. Being aggressive and helping the team win. That’s how I look at it.”

Sixers Officially Waive Isaiah Joe, Charles Bassey

The Sixers waived guard Isaiah Joe and center Charles Bassey on Thursday. The writing appeared to be on the wall after both guys sat out the preseason finale on Wednesday night. Philadelphia’s roster officially stands at 14 players – minus the two-way players (Michael Foster, Julian Champagnie, Charlie Brown) – so they do have an extra roster spot to burn.

Is Daryl Morey plotting another move? Speculation is running rampant since the Sixers saved roughly $3.3 million in salary by cutting Joe and Bassey. More importantly, they are “well below the hard cap.”

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