One of the more important points leaving the 2020-2021 postseason was the underwhelming performance of the Sixers’ bench.
While majority of the publicity surrounding the team has been the future of Ben Simmons and how the team will handle him this off-season, we cannot forget that the bench’s lack of production was also an incredible net negative for the team. Whether it was allowing teams to get back into games by the poor defensive play, or the ineffectiveness on offense, the bench disappointed tremendously. And while there is so much uncertainty surrounding the team as it pertains to Ben Simmons and whether or not a trade will be made which could also involve some of these bench pieces, for the purposes of this article, we will proceed as though the bench will be as it is currently constituted. Here is a recap of the Sixers’ bench and some ways the Sixers could go about restructuring the bench.
We should first begin with who is currently on the bench. The Sixers’ bench currently consists of Matisse Thybulle, Tyrese Maxey, Shake Milton, Isaiah Joe, Paul Reed, George Hill, and Anthony Tolliver. A quick note on the last three names; none of their money is guaranteed, so they could theoretically not be on the team next year. Although, Reed’s youth and promise from the G-League as well as Hill’s veteran presence, playoff experience, and trade capital would lead us to believe they will be on the roster next season at least. This is a solid foundation for the bench. It is absolutely guard-heavy, which could very well lead to some off-season trades being made, but if the guards, mainly Shake and Matisse, can improve on their outside shooting, that is a strong base to build off of. Now for the names who are not under contract.
Danny Green, although not a bench player, is not under contract but has reportedly been told the Sixers want to resign him. If the Sixers could resign Green and possibly move him to the bench to strengthen the second unit, that is a huge boost for the team. Dwight Howard is another name who could potentially be resigned this off-season. While his playoff production wasn’t incredible, he was a great motivator for the team and brought energy to the second unit. He is still a menace in the rebounding department and a more than capable backup for Joel Embiid. Mike Scott and Furkan Korkmaz are also free agents this off-season. It will be interesting to see whether or not the Sixers bring these two back. Both players can definitely improve the team but have such one-dimensional games that make it unclear whether or not they will be in the future of the Sixers’ plans.
Speaking of the Sixers’ plans, obviously the draft will be the first priority. Depending on how the draft shakes out, some of these potential names may not be resigned or remain with the team. Again ignoring trades, a strong draft could help bolster the bench more than some of the players previously mentioned. However, once the draft concludes, the Sixers need to focus on bringing in veterans who can provide quality minutes once the starters exit the game. Specific free agents can be discussed at a later time, but the bench’s lack of two-way production was massively exposed during the playoffs. The Sixers cannot enter next season with a bench that played as poorly as the previous season’s did.
If the Sixers want to make another significant run at a championship, they will need to retool the bench with a combination of the existing bench players, quality draft picks, and high-level free agents.
Photo: via Yong Kim/Philadelphia Inquirer
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