Five things to look out for in Sixers Training Camp
Well it feels strange to be writing about this already, the Sixers season is almost upon us. It seems like yesterday that the Sixers were taking control of the NBA in January, and now here we are.
Today is the start of training camp in Camden, and like every team in the NBA, there is always a few storylines to monitor as the season gets ready to unfold. Whether it be an injury or a new player's specific impact, we get to witness the team start to take shape in these training workouts leading up to the preseason in just a couple weeks.
So here are five things to look out for as training camp begins today:
1. Joel Embiid
First and foremost, being one of, if not the most important player on the Sixers for a variety of reasons, Joel Embiid is someone to look out for in training camp these coming weeks.
Is he going to play, or isn't he going to play, that is the question.
The injury itself might be healed, but now begins that rehabilitation to make sure Embiid doesn't get the same injury again, maybe even worse.
And to clear things up on whether this exclusion from five-on-five drills had anything to do with Embiid's impending contract extension.
2. Ben Simmons' team
A whole season without 2016 first round pick Ben Simmons leaves the world wondering what kind of player he is once he plays for the first time this season.
Truly, the scary thing about this entire situation is that Simmons and his teammates are pretty much the only person who knows what he's capable of.
The league can't put his exact intangibles on a scouting report because he hasn't stepped foot on an NBA court yet in his career. The last time we saw Simmons in Summer League last season, where he showed glimpses of stardom in just a couple games.
Yes, it's been that long.
Simmons was drafted because he was a different kind of player, one that exudes confidence and untapped potential. Potential to do things that have never been seen before in the NBA.
Like Embiid, Simmons took the time to work on his shot among other things during last season.
When he says he's a better player now than he was last season, I believe that. And if Embiid was dominant in his debut, imagine what Simmons is going to do when he finally gets his moment.
Simmons is healthy, ready to go on no minutes restrictions, and ready to take over this team, be a leader.
3. The Sixers' new outside shooters
There's no questioning that one of the Sixers' biggest needs going into the offseason was outside shooters. Guys that can sit on the wing and have Embiid or Simmons dish the ball out to from the post to take a big three-point shot.
And not just take the shot, but sink the shot more often than not.
The Sixers drafted guard Markelle Fultz No. 1, signed possibly the best three-point shooter in the league J.J. Redick to a one-year deal, and internationally-known sharpshooter Furkan Korkmaz came over to Philadelphia to play for the team that drafted him in the first round in 2016.
The Sixers hope all of the guys they have can make an impact in that part of the game. J.J. Redick is probably the best guy you could have on the team, just for launching up three-point shots.
A career 41.5-percent three point shooter, Redick shot a career-high 47.5-percent from beyond the arc in 2015-16.
He might be the most reliable three-point shooter in the league, and to have someone of his shooting caliber on the Sixers is unbelievable.
Just acquiring Redick alone solidified that need for three-point shooting, and then the Sixers nabbed additional help.
If three-point shooting was a worry before, it definitely shouldn't be now.
And the Sixers still have three-point shooters returning like Nik Stauskas, Robert Covington and Embiid.
And honestly, going by this whole "unknown" factor of Simmons, don't be surprised if Ben can shoot threes now after it not being a strength in college.
The outside game could be very deadly for the Sixers this season, and we'll catch glimpses of it today and for the rest of training camp when they work on these drills and participate in open practice.
4. The role players
The Sixers brought in a lot of players to fill out the 20-man roster for training camp.
Surprisingly, they brought in two veteran big man guys, that may or may not be fortunate to play with the Sixers in the regular season.
Those guys are Kris Humphries and Emeka Okafor.
Every NBA team will have a maximum of 14 players on a roster for their regular season rotation, with 12 of those players being active.
So of the 20 players currently on this training camp roster, many of them will be left off the team.
Emeka Okafor, Humphries, James Blackmon Jr. and Jacob Pullen are among four players that I believe will be fighting for a roster spot on this team.
After those four players, there are still additional cuts to be made, but a lot of the roster, with the addition of the new acquisitions, is mostly intact.
For as much as people love T.J. McConnell, he has a lot to fight for, with Markelle Fultz and Jerryd Bayless already ahead of him on the depth chart. T.J. doesn't seem like the kind of guy that will just let his minutes slip away from under him, but he needs to work harder than he's ever worked before if he doesn't want to be playing for another team this season.
It will be interesting to see how Dario Saric takes on the role of sixth man. If he isn't part of the starting five, Saric is by far the leader of the rest of the roster. His skillset is impressive, and just might one of the most talented bench players in the NBA this season.
Saric took on the role of sixth man last year, when Ersan Ilyasova was occupying the starting power forward minutes, so Saric shouldn't take long to become comfortable with his role.
Besides, he'll still be playing quite a lot, even if he isn't out on the court for tip-off.
5. The health of players
While hearing about the Sixers as a team and how much they are projected to progress this season is nice and everything, nothing can come to fruition if the players don't stay healthy.
It honestly doesn't even have to be about a specific player, anything can happen, anyone on this Sixers team can get injured in the blink of an eye, and a season can end just like that.
Ben Simmons had it happen to him last year during a preseason practice.
The Sixers bringing in C. Daniel Medina Leal as the vice-president of Athlete Care was a really underrated move. Leal worked with FC Barcelona previously, and his world-renown for his practices.
The medical staff in recent moments, hasn't been the most reliable in the world, and with the addition of Leal to the medical staff, he will try to make sure that the Sixers are a healthy team going forward. Of course injuries are inevitable and part of the game, but he will try to make sure that injuries occur way less than ever before.
Josh Liddick is Sixers editor for SportsTalkPhilly.com. Follow him on Twitter @JoshLiddickTalk.