Three Sixers That Have a Lot to Prove This Preseason
The Philadelphia 76ers open scrimmage got postponed due to a wet court at the Palestra on Tuesday night. Now we have to wait to see this team in action until game one of the preseason this Friday, September 28, at 7:00 p.m. from the Wells Fargo Center against Melbourne United. Training camp and preseason will give us a glimpse at some of the improvements that players in the rotation have made while also getting to see some of the rotational bubble players show what they can do.
Heading into the Sixers 2018-19 season, here's a quick look at their projected depth chart:
|Philadelphia 76ers Depth Chart|
|PG||Ben Simmons||Markelle Fultz||T.J. McConnell||Jerryd Bayless|
|SG||JJ Redick||Markelle Fultz||Landry Shamet|
|SF||Robert Covington||Wilson Chandler||Furkan Korkmaz|
|PF||Dario Saric||Mike Muscala||Jonah Bolden|
|C||Joel Embiid||Amir Johnson||Jonah Bolden|
While the starting five will remain unchanged from last season, the second unit and beyond still has some question marks. If we're going off of what happened towards the end of last season, JJ Redick is normally the first guy to leave the floor, followed by Covington when it comes to substitutions. You'd expect Markelle Fultz and Wilson Chandler to be the first pair off the bench with Amir Johnson and Mike Muscala in for the next group. We could see T.J. McConnell running point for the second unit when Ben Simmons heads to the bench, but Fultz could also shift to the point, leaving an opening for a guy like Landry Shamet or Furkan Korkmaz to enter the game.
Looking over the depth chart, there are a few players on the bubble with regard to the rotation. We'll keep McConnell out of this discussion because he always finds himself minutes no matter what the situation is, but when talking about Landry Shamet, Furkan Korkmaz and Jonah Bolden, their roles are far from determined and each will have to show something during preseason to be considered for minutes once the regular season starts.
Bolden probably could have benefited from another year overseas as he is far from a finished product, so this season will be big for his development. Jonah comes in and fills the big man spot on the roster vacated by Richaun Holmes. Holmes, loved by fans, didn't get a whole lot of minutes due to his defensive inefficiency. Bolden, on the other hand, could get held back due to his offensive inefficiency. Defensively, though, he could provide Brett Brown with a strong option off the bench at the four or five spots.
In the Sixers’ first Summer League win, an upset over Phoenix, Bolden handled No. 1 overall pick DeAndre Ayton well in the post right off the bat, showing plenty of physicality in the post. He looked good on defense throughout the first five games.
Offensively, though, his game still has a lot of room to develop and leaves a lot to be desired. Through six Summer League contests, Bolden shot just 13-for-37 from the floor and was an abysmal 4-for-17 from beyond the arc. After posting a strong, encouraging stat line of 13 points (5-10 FG), eight boards and two steals against the Bucks, things looked to be turning around for Bolden’s up-and-down Summer League, but he couldn't duplicate his success against Memphis, scoring just five points on five shots and finishing with a team-worst -22.
Verdict: Bolden is going to have to fight hard to earn minutes in Brown's rotation, especially after his poor Summer League offensive showing. That being said, Bolden's physicality on defense and continuing work on shooting could make him an intriguing rotation option for the Sixers behind Mike Muscala or Amir Johnson.
After coming to the Sixers from overseas last season, Korkmaz suffered a foot injury that cut his season short. Before then, he wasn't playing much anyway, splitting time between the Sixers and their G-League affiliate in Wilmington, Delaware. Now healthy, Korkmaz's offensive ability was showcased during Summer League and FIBA World Cup Qualifiers.
In game one of the Summer League for the Sixers, Korkmaz erupted for 40 points. After shooting just 1-for-18 over the next two games, the Turkish forward tallied 18, 19, and 18 points, respectively, to finish off the exhibition games. Korkmaz recently suited up for his home country of Turkey for the FIBA Qualifiers and looked phenomenal offensively. In the first game, he shot 5-for-10 from the floor and 1-for-4 from beyond, finishing with 13 points, five rebounds and two steals. He followed that up with a 24-point, five rebound effort against Slovenia. He shot 8-for-14 from the floor and 3-for-5 from beyond the arc in that one.
In four FIBA Qualifying games, Furkan has posted averages of 20.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.3 steals, shooting 55.3 percent overall and 61.1 percent from three-point range. Chris Deibler of PhillyFrontOffice.net notes that between Summer League and FIBA action, Korkmaz has shot 28-for-64 from three-point range. Not too shabby.
Defensively, though, Korkmaz is still a work in progress. He isn't a great on-ball defender and doesn't show a whole lot of quickness on defense overall. That will probably be his biggest focus during the preseason.
Verdict: Despite Korkmaz's ability to shoot the three, he's enough of a defensive liability to not see the floor outside of garbage time to start the season. He might join the Delaware Blue Coats from time-to-time, but ultimately this is just another development year for the 21-year-old.
Out of the three players on the the rotational bubble, Shamet seems most poised to get minutes. In 32 games last season, Shamet averaged 14.9 points and 5.2 assists per game, shooting 48.9 percent from the floor and 44.2 percent from beyond the arc at Wichita State.
Out of all of the bench guys for the Sixers, Shamet might be their best pure shooter, having the ability to pull-up from both long-range and mid-range. Shamet worked alongside JJ Redick a lot during training camp, absorbing how the veteran sharp-shooter gets open, uses the pick-and-roll to his advantage and creating space.
“He’s one of the best shooters, when you look back on it, in NBA history,” Shamet told Noah Levick of NBC Sports Philadelphia. “I just try to take little bits and pieces of how he gets open, because he’s not the biggest guy, especially in the NBA. He’s really good with his feet, with his hands, knowing how to create space. So even when I’m guarding him, I’m picking things up on what he does to me and how he gets open.”
If Shamet somehow finds a way to become effective off the ball like Redick, with the ability to play alongside Simmons and Embiid, he'll ease his way into more and more minutes as the season progresses.
Verdict: Although he isn't known for his athletisism, Shamet comes from a program at Wichita State that prides itself on defense, which is very similar to Brett Brown's style. Shamet mixes strong on-ball defense with really good shooting and that combo should put him into the regular rotation sooner rather than later.