Philadelphia 76ers Starting Lineup Predictions

Jul 9, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Philadelphia 76ers forward Ben Simmons (25) yells from the court during an NBA Summer League game against the Los Angeles Lakers at Thomas & Mack Center. Los Angeles won the game 70-69. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 9, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Philadelphia 76ers forward Ben Simmons (25) yells from the court during an NBA Summer League game against the Los Angeles Lakers at Thomas & Mack Center. Los Angeles won the game 70-69. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports /

The Philadelphia 76ers roster is coming together, but who will be the starting 5 for the Sixers next season?

The Philadelphia 76ers roster is really starting to come together now that free agent signings have been made official. They, along with the exciting addition of Dario Saric, have molded this roster into what looks to be a much improved team from last season. The frontcourt logjam is still the big thorn in their side, but other than that, there is much to be thrilled about for Sixers fans as we enter year four of the rebuild.

Position fluidity will be a huge key for Philly this year as they take their first step towards becoming a contender by handing the reigns to rookie sensation Ben Simmons. His ability to play at virtually any spot on the floor is something that will produce some seriously unconventional lineups on the floor in Philadelphia as they look to redefine the term “position-less basketball.”

The opening night date and opponent for the Sixers has yet to be set in place and won’t be until the official NBA schedule is released in a couple weeks. With that being said, it’s still not too early to predict who’s names get called by PA announcer Matt Cord before the first game at the Wells Fargo Center.

Before we dive into that, I want to emphasize that these are predictions for starting lineups at the very beginning of the season. Unfortunately it seems as if Joel Embiid will be on a firm minutes restriction early on in the year. We will get a better sense of how much he can play in the preseason, but expecting him to play starting minutes from the get-go is probably not feasible.

Also, all three of these groupings will be blessed by Nerlens Noel (slash) Jahlil Okafor because one of them could be gone at any moment via trade from now until October. Keith Pompey reported that going into the year with all three centers on the roster is something Bryan Colangelo has said he’s not comfortable with. Colangelo has been adamant the Sixers won’t make any trades just to make a deal, but you can expect them to jump all over the first offer the tickles their fancy.

So, without further delay, here are three lineups that the Sixers could be sporting for game one of the regular season.

#1 Conventionally Unconventional

Jerryd BaylessGerald HendersonRobert Covington-Ben Simmons-Nerlens Noel/Jahlil Okafor

Biggest Strengths-Scoring and Experience, Biggest Weakness-Shooting

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  • This first lineup is the one that follows the NBA position scale in terms of size, but completely defies typical standards in terms on play style. With brand new veteran additions Bayless and Henderson at the two guard spots the Sixers have smaller guys capable of defending team’s quicker players, while still allowing Ben Simmons to take over the primary ball handler duties. Bayless and Covington would serve as the catch-and-shoot players for this squad with Henderson slashing in and out, and Noel/Okafor hovering around the basket waiting for a Simmons lob.

    The entire offensive strategy for this starting five would base around the drive-and-dish game of Simmons, and it would give him plenty of scoring options around him on different spots of the floor. Another aspect of this lineup that may go overlooked is rebounding. Initially you would think only using one of Philly’s three centers would hurt their numbers on the boards, but that is not the case. Both Gerald Henderson and Robert Covington are good rebounders for their size, and Simmons can seriously eat up the defensive glass and start those awe inspiring fast breaks he loves so much.

    #2 Ballhandlers Galore

    Sergio Rodriguez-Robert Covington-Ben Simmons-Dario Saric-Nerlens Noel/Jahlil Okafor

    Biggest Strength-Passing and 3-point shooting, Biggest Weakness-Perimeter defense

    This next Sixers starting cast is loaded with guys that can pass the ball, and would offer the Sixers some Spurs-like movement on offense. While I think Bayless will get the first crack at what i’m calling the small guard spot (rather than point guard), Rodriguez has history playing for Bryan Colangelo with the Raptors, and could push his way to a starting role if he performs well in training camp and the preseason. Sergio is a prototypical point guard and could essentially be part of a three-man turnstile bringing the ball up the court between himself, Simmons, and Saric.

    Speaking of Simmons and Saric, there has been some speculation as to whether two players who both identify as point forwards can coexist in the same lineup. TSS contributor Christopher Kline has already debunked that notion.

    Both Saric and Simmons are too versatile to be constrained by one type of position, and could easily get along on both sides of the ball. There will likely be a few defensive rotation mismatches that come about with such an inexperienced roster, but that’s nothing that can’t be counteracted with a Simmons-to-Saric dish for a trey on the other end.

    Another multifaceted player that I think people are overlooking is my man RoCo33. Covington had been a natural small forward his whole career up until late last season, and when Okafor went down with a knee injury, Covington actually slid into the four spot and played very well. I think he can do the exact same thing at shooting guard.

    He’s not the quickest defender, so he will likely be at a disadvantage against Dwyane Wade and other combo guards, but his size makes up for it. Covington is at his best shooting the rock the second it hits his hands, and having someone as little as 6-4 guarding him could mean he has more room to get the shot off.

    #3 #PointSimmons

    Ben Simmons-Jerryd Bayless-Robert Covington-Jerami Grant-Nerlens Noel/Jahlil Okafor

    Biggest Strengths-Interior Defense and Fast Paced. Biggest Weakness-Mid range offense

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    I truly believe Simmons does not need another ball handler on the floor with him, and the Sixers could eventually label him a point guard through and through. His 6-10, 240 pound frame may always require a smaller guard next to him to cover guys like John Wall and Kyle Lowry, but by no means do I think it’s required that he have another player that can bring the ball up the court. his instict as a distributor is Magic-esque, and the Sixers should allow him to work from his comfort zone at all times. Jerryd Bayless could take over the PG defensive duties and play his off-ball game to perfection.

    I threw Jerami Grant into this lineup because the success that the Sixers had with him at the PF and Noel and the center were fantastic last year. Grant’s defensive prowess against any player 1-5 would be the perfect compliment should Simmons need to switch to a slower defender. Philadelphia’s defensive rating skyrocketed with the duo of Noel and Grant on the floor last season, and I think they could go back to that early on while guys like Saric and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot develop their NBA game.

    The fast break would certainly be a sight to behold with these five guys on the court. Picture this… The Sixers grab the defensive rebound and outlet pass to a streaking Simmons. He pushes the ball down the court and has two 3-point dish options in Bayless and RoCo on the wings with Noel and Grant trailing for the easy bucket. Those are some dreamy thoughts right there.


    Big Ball

     Ben Simmons-Jerami Grant-Dario Saric-Nerlens Noel-Joel Embiid

    The shortest player in this lineup would be 6-9 Jerami Grant guarding the opposing point guard. The Sixers could counter teams that go small with this collection of trees and it would be a must-see experiment.

    Imagine playing the Boston Celtics with Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley on the floor, and they have to shoot over all of these monsters. This won’t be a common lineup night in and night out, but you can expect Brett Brown to try almost anything this season as the Sixers look to find the very best combination of players for each and every situation.

    Small Ball

    Sergio Rodriguez-Jerryd Bayless-Gerald Henderson-Ben Simmons-Dario Saric

    Dario Saric the small five is something the Sixers have mentioned in the past concerning when the Sixers go small, and having the 6-10 glass eating Simmons next to him would make you forget the Sixers have three top-five-pick centers on the bench. Like that other bonus lineup, I don’t expect this quintet to stroll out on the court very often, but it could be a very effective strategy should the Sixers find themselves against the Golden State Warriors “Death Lineup” or another team’s best impression of it. I personally love the fact that this configuration would give Ben Simmons four surrounding players all capable of shooting from beyond his current range.

    Next: Sixers Debate: Development vs. Patience

    No matter who ends up on the floor to commence the 2016-17 NBA season, the Sixers have a whole lot to be excited about going forward. There probably won’t be a consistent starting lineup all season as some guys improve and others deal with nagging injuries, but keep an eye on the improvement of their four rookies Simmons, Saric, Embiid, and Luwawu. They are the true future of this team, and could all end up in the starting five by the end of the year.

    Who do you think should be in the starting lineup to start the season? Let us know in the comments below!