Philadelphia 76ers: The kids are taking over Brett Brown’s rotation

Matisse Thybulle, Furkan Korkmaz | Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Matisse Thybulle, Furkan Korkmaz | Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images) /

The Philadelphia 76ers are turning to youth in a season dedicated to title contention.

The Philadelphia 76ers made it abundantly clear this summer — the goal is to win a championship in 2019-20. The results have been rocky so far, but even shrouded in doubt, the Sixers’ roster has the shine of a genuine contender.

Many will question the starting five, and for good reason. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons is an imperfect fit. Al Horford muddies it up even further. Neither Tobias Harris nor Josh Richardson are proven, bonafide late-game scorers.

Philadelphia still has a lot to figure out chemistry-wise, and star power alone will focus the bulk of Sixers discourse on those five players. It’s the bench, however, which represents Philadelphia’s biggest question mark. If the Sixers want to win a title, the bench will need to step up.

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  • The second unit has been frequent problem for the Sixers in recent years. It’s better this season, but there’s still a disconnect between the Sixers’ bench and the benches of other high-profile contenders.

    As Brown attempts to figure out the right mix of skill in the second unit — before the trade deadline provides an inevitable shake-up, at least — one trend is becoming too prominent to ignore. The Sixers are turning to youth.

    Coming into the season, many expected James Ennis and Mike Scott to anchor the second unit. Both were strong last postseason, and both have a wealth of NBA experience to draw on. The Sixers, on the prowl for a championship, weren’t expectedly to focus heavily on young talent.

    Brett Brown has never been the most fond of young players either. Once ‘The Process’ came to its conclusion, Brown (and the front office) seemed to trust vets — T.J. McConnell, Marco Belinelli, Ersan Ilyasova, etc. — over younger, less proven options.

    That narrative has turned on its head recently. In the absence of Josh Richardson, Shake Milton has fruity stepped into a prominent rotation spot. Matisse Thybulle and Furkan Korkmaz, both 22 years old, have surpassed Ennis as Brown’s top minute recipients off the bench.

    Even Thybulle, who was drafted as an accomplished four-year senior, was expected to have a minimal role in year one. Brown played him big minutes from the get-go, however, and invested serious trust in Korkmaz despite an entire fanbase that had given up on the Turkish sharpshooter.

    During the Sixers’ past two playoff runs, the emphasis has been on surrounding Embiid, Simmons, and other core pieces with experience. Since the core is young, one cannot expect a young supporting cast to succeed.

    There is validity to that thought process. In a traditional sense, older players tend to hold up better in a postseason environment. But sometimes, young players are just better. So far this season, Thybulle and Korkmaz have simply outperformed Ennis and Scott. Their skill sets bring much more to the rotation.

    Next. 3 potential trade targets at shooting guard. dark

    Brown’s approach is liable to change once the playoffs near, and it wouldn’t shock me to see Ennis’ minutes pick up. But his willingness to play young, inexperienced players in high-leverage moments is a positive sign.