The Sixers signed Shake Milton and Marial Shayok this weekend, which I think we all knew was coming down the pike. Milton was given a four-year deal while Shayok, the second round draft pick, will occupy a two-way spot.
That brings the team to 13 players, plus the two-way guys:
- Joel Embiid
- Ben Simmons
- Al Horford
- Josh Richardson
- Tobias Harris
- Mike Scott
- Zhaire Smith
- Jonah Bolden
- Matisse Thybulle
- Kyle O’Quinn
- James Ennis
- Raul Neto
- Shake Milton
- Norvel Pelle (two-way)
- Marial Shayok (two-way)
You can leave one of those spots open, as the Sixers did last season, using that 15th slot for flexibility. And it doesn’t result in an incomplete roster charge, since the penalty only applies if your roster is fewer than 12 players.
I still think the Sixers could use a veteran shooter. Kyle Korver is a possible buyout candidate, with Woj reporting that the Lakers, Bucks, and Sixers are a possible landing spot. Avery Bradley is another guy who should be available after buyout. You could take a stab at Trey Burke or bring in Jamal Crawford for some ultra-veteran influence. Hard to believe he played 64 games last year at age 38.
Ten thoughts on the roster, after the jump:
- This is a massive team. Josh Richardson is the shortest guy in the starting lineup at 6’6″. There’s no reason why this squad shouldn’t finish top five in defense and top five in rebounding.
- The big-man rotation will be interesting. I personally would sit Embiid for every back-to-back game, regardless of the circumstances, and move Horford to the five in those scenarios. Then you have options – move Tobias Harris to the four, play Kyle O’Quinn behind Horford, etc. If you really want to, you can still play small ball with Mike Scott when necessary. There’s a lot for Brett Brown to work with in the front court.
- I think Shake Milton did a decent job of handling the ball this past weekend in Summer League, but I think I like Neto better as a backup ball handler. You can then play Shake next to him at the two, with Ennis or Thybulle or Smith at the three, etc.
- Horford is a great screen-setter and should fit in nicely in Brown’s motion offense. Look for the Sixers to cut back on pick and roll this year with Jimmy Butler out of the picture. Richardson will be given plenty of clean looks in this system, along with Tobias Harris, and one of those two is gonna have to pick up JJ Redick’s scoring burden.
- I’m interested to see how Tobias does at the three. He’s capable of switching, but you certainly don’t want him getting matched up frequently with the likes of Kyrie Irving, Spencer Dinwiddie, and Kemba Walker on the perimeter.
- Horford gives you another option for defending Giannis Antetokounmpo, which is massive. With Kawhi Leonard going to the west, Milwaukee is the biggest threat in the east, and having two ways to defend Giannis without running Joel Embiid into the ground is a “big fucking deal,” as Joe Biden once said.
- A popular Twitter rumor: trade Jonah Bolden. I don’t necessarily have an opinion on that, but the Sixers do have depth in the front court and I think Norvel Pelle has looked good this summer.
- Remember when this team desperately needed wing defenders? You now have Thybulle, Smith, and Ennis coming off the bench.
- There will be rough shooting patches for this team. I think Tobias Harris is going to have to take a big step forward as a go-to guy, somebody who can get you a bucket in a tough spot, since Butler’s shot creation is gone.
Last, and most importantly, is thought number ten:
All of these additions mean absolutely nothing if Embiid and Simmons come back as the same players they were last season. Joel and Ben have to take the next step, and for Embiid it’s this:
- improve his conditioning
- do a better job recognizing digs and double teams
- cut down on goofy turnovers by one per game
- PERHAPS – improve to 34-35% on trailing three point shots
For Ben, it’s:
- develop a reliable mid-range jump shot
- get his free throw percentage up to the 65-70% range.
- understand that you are big enough and strong enough to get to the rim at will
- show a better command of running the half court offense in late game and playoff situations
That’s pretty much it, otherwise we get another season of Simmons driving into a double team and kicking out to a wide-open Embiid at the three-point line, where he regressed to 30% last year. Ben with a jump shot solves the “walling off” problem, unless Joel becomes a good enough three-point shooter that teams abandon the Simmons double and try to close out Embiid instead.
But it’s a great roster, certainly capable of going to the NBA finals. I am very curious to see how this squad looks on the court, and I hope we’ve seen the last of possessions like this one: