The Philadelphia 76ers are a month away from the start of training camp so there’s no better time to preview the starting five. Spoiler alert, nothing has changed outside of the on-again, off-again trade rumors around Ben Simmons. The Sixers should trot out the same lineup that lost in last year’s Eastern Conference semifinals.
It’s a solid starting five featuring Simmons at point guard, Seth Curry at shooting guard, Joel Embiid at center, Danny Green at small forward, and Tobias Harris at power forward. Andre Drummond takes over the Dwight Howard role as the first big man off the bench, along with increased minutes for rising guards Matisse Thybulle and Tyrese Maxey. Role players Furkan Korkmaz and Georges Niang will also be counted on for long stretches.
Sixers president Daryl Morey promised to get better in his end-of-year remarks, saying the Game 7 loss to Atlanta was the “worst performance” of the season. He reiterated the stated goal was to win a championship and hinted at upgrading the roster.
“Frankly, if we’re squeaking by the second round that just tells me we’re not good enough to win the title,” Morey said on June 22. “So we need to get better but you know that series is still incredibly painful. We have to get better. We need to be a better offensive team. There is internal improvement that can help there, and then there is some external improvement.”
The latest Sixers news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Sixers newsletter here!
Did Sixers Get Better This Offseason?
The Sixers have been heavily criticized this offseason for not making a bigger splash, something Morey publicly fired back at. The Athletic ranked the Sixers’ offseason as the 22nd-best in the NBA, out of only 30 teams. Sports Illustrated’s Michael Pina graded them a C+.
He questioned the decision to waive George Hill and floated out the possibility of Simmons being traded for another superstar before concluding: “Running last year’s core back with a championship in mind would be silly, but right now that appears to be their intention.”
Adding Andre Drummond and Georges Niang – along with re-signing Danny Green and Furkan Korkmaz – were all savvy moves. Let’s not discredit retaining Matisse Thybulle and Tyrese Maxey either. However, they do feel a tad hollow if a blockbuster trade for Damian Lillard can’t be executed. For now, Simmons remains entrenched as the starting point guard whether the three-time All-Star wants to stay in Philly or not. Here are the offensive numbers for the starting five:
- Ben Simmons: 14.3 points, 7.2 rebounds, 6.9 assists – 55.7% FG, 30% 3PT
- Seth Curry: 12.5 points, 2.4 rebounds, 2.7 assists – 46.7% on FG, 45% 3PT
- Joel Embiid: 28.5 points, 10.6 rebounds, 2.8 assists – 51.3% FG, 37.7% 3PT
- Danny Green: 9.5 points, 3.8 rebounds, 1.7 assists – 41.2% FG, 40.5% 3PT
- Tobias Harris: 19.5 points, 6.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists – 51.2 FG, 39.4% 3PT
(Editor’s note: Simmons only attempted 10 three-pointers on the year, 3-for-10. Meanwhile, Green shot 40-percent from deep this season on 6.3 attempts).
Doc Rivers Preaches Defense, Hustle Plays
The Sixers scored a defensive rating of 107.0 last season, first in the Eastern Conference and second in the NBA. They also ranked high in hustle plays, with 16.5 deflections per game and 5.6 loose balls recovered.
The defensive intensity stems from head coach Doc Rivers who pounded the drum for a lengthy defensive-minded forward at last year’s trade deadline. Instead, the Sixers added an injured George Hill who never filled up the stat sheet. Now they’ll look to Georges Niang (100.3 defensive rating) to step in and contribute on both ends of the floor.
And don’t count out Paul Reed building off his summer league success: 17.4 points, 12.0 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 2.2 blocks, 2.6 steals. At 6-foot-8, the man affectionately known as Bball Paul can contribute at the next level. Second-round pick Charles Bassey (once signed) should give Rivers another big body at 6-foot-11 and 235 pounds.