That’s according to Brett Brown, who joined the 97.5 the Fanatic morning show today:

I don’t think this comes as a surprise to anyone. Markelle started all four preseason games, replacing JJ Redick as the Sixers’ shooting guard.

My first thought is that this is the obvious move. Fultz is going to have to learn to play with Ben Simmons at some point in an off-the-ball or combo guard role, so you might as well do it beginning tomorrow in Boston. Fultz, a 20-year-old number one overall draft pick, is a core part of the Sixers’ future. Redick, a 34-year-old veteran, is not.

That’s not to say that Redick is unimportant, because he’s certainly not. He will still play significant minutes off the bench this season and he will still be on the floor in the fourth quarter. Brown will draw up dribble hand-off plays for him as he manages his minutes in a way that’s more suitable for a guy who is now in his mid-thirties.

I asked JJ last Thursday if it mattered whether he was a starter or not, and he didn’t seem to think so:

“No, I don’t think it matters at any point in your career. I think what matters is your role. And I don’t think the role changes whether I start or come off the bench. There are going to be opportunities to score. There are going to be opportunities to have plays called for you. Minutes are going to be about the same. So to me it’s essentially the same role.”

Pretty much.

When you look at players in their 30s and how their careers are extended, there are a lot of ways to keep their roles consistent while removing them from the starting lineup. The recently retired Manu Ginobili was given a set amount of minutes at the end of each quarter while still getting 18-23 per game. Dwyane Wade came off the bench last year when he returned to Miami.

Looking through the Sixers’ game logs, there were plenty of times where Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova would play more than some of the starters:

That was game one of the first round. Joel Embiid was still injured, so the Sixers started Amir Johnson then gave Ilyasova a ton of small ball minutes alongside Dario Saric. Belinelli played more than Redick as he came off the bench.

I think being a “starter” is ultimately pointless in basketball, mostly just an optics thing I’d say. If someone is a “starter,” it makes it sound like he or she is more important than somebody else, but I don’t think anyone thought Tyler Johnson was Miami’s best two-guard last season. Somebody came up with some cliche back in the day – “it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.” 

This is about getting Fultz on the floor with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid so that he can learn to play alongside them as the Sixers continue to develop their young core. Playing Markelle with the second unit might allow him to thrive against opposing second units, but it doesn’t do anything to move this entire thing forward. The Sixers need to know if he’s a legit superstar moving forward and whether or not he meshes with the two other studs on the roster.