Sixers Reveal Surprising Roster Lineup Plans in Preseason Scrimmage

Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers

Getty Joel Embiid #21 and James Harden #1 of the Philadelphia 76ers.

The Philadelphia 76ers might not take on another preseason opponent until Monday, but that doesn’t mean the team isn’t on the floor competing. On Saturday, the Sixers held its annual “Blue and White Scrimmage” — an intrasquad competition that should shed some light on where the coaching staff stands in terms of lineups and rotations.

Of particular importance is who is named to one of the two starting teams and, by extension, who is left off. One team is generally made up of the starters, while the second unit usually consists of the players that the coaching staff likes best as backups.

Here’s who made the two starting teams at the scrimmage on Saturday (and we’ll let you decide which team is the “starters” and which is not):

Team White: Tyrese Maxey, James Harden, Joel Embiid, Tobias Harris, and PJ Tucker.

Team Blue: Shake Milton, De’Anthony Melton, Danuel House, Georges Niang, and Montrezl Harrell.

There are a few interesting takeaways from the roster decisions here. First and foremost, where is Paul Reed?

Why Wasn’t Paul Reed a Starter in 76ers Scrimmage?

After establishing himself during last year’s playoffs as a capable backup big versatile enough to guard fours and fives, Reed entered training camp with significant buzz. And so far, he’s built on that excitement through Philadelphia’s first two preseason games.

Against the Brooklyn Nets, Reed managed a strong showing, notching 10 points, five rebounds, and three steals in 20 minutes of work. Even more importantly, Reed was named a starter over former Sixth Man of the Year Montrezl Harrell.

Against the Cavaliers two nights later, however, it was a different story. Reed was booted from the starting lineup (no surprise there) in favor of the Sixers’ projected starting five. But Reed still saw 18 minutes of action, managing only managed five points. Defensively, though, Reed proved his chops to the tune of six rebounds and four steals. But Harrell stole the show with a tough game-winning drive and layup in the closing seconds.

Now, all signs indicate Harrell has the inside track on the backup big spot. After all, Reed was slotted on Team Blue, i.e. the second unit. If head coach Doc Rivers felt confident enough in Reed right now, wouldn’t he have given Reed the nod over Harrell on the same team?

It doesn’t mean Harrell and Reed can’t take the floor together. In fact, they might have to, given Harrell’s occasional liability play on defense. Plus, Reed can ably play the four while Harrell takes over the five. That would likely slide Niang down the pecking order as a result.

At this point, everything is likely still fluid with the Sixers’ lineup. There are no hard and fast rules that Rivers & Co. are living and dying by, at least not this early.

Speaking of Niang, the former Iowa State Cyclone passed up an opportunity to play hero for his side during the scrimmage.

Niang Defers to Furkan Korkmaz for Game Winner

With the scrimmage knotted at the end of regulation, the staff decided to shake things up. Rather than overtime, the two sides would compete in a sudden death shootout from three. On one side, for Team White, lineup Isaiah “Iso” Joe. On the other lined up Furkan Korkmaz.

But it didn’t have to be that way. Niang was supposedly up for the role as Team Blue’s shootout rep, but passed it up for Korkmaz.

“That’s not true,” Niang said, when asked if he ducked the final shot. “I’m about the team — I’m all about the team. Furk was catching fire out there, so I figured it was his time.”

Joe crushed the shootout, blitzing past Korkmaz and giving Team Blue the scrimmage trophy (and bragging rights).

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