Sixers’ biggest offseason questions: Can Daryl Morey fill out the bench?
The Sixers’ starting five is really, really good. At least, the ‘Big Four’ is really, really good. There are valid complaints to lob at Harden, Maxey, Harris, and even Joel Embiid, but that quartet has been largely dominant when healthy and on the floor together. It’s the complete dearth of talent elsewhere on the roster that really screwed Philadelphia in the end.
With Green’s future in doubt, the need for more talent on the margins is even greater. Say what you want about the Harden trade in hindsight, but Morey’s greatest failure as Sixers GM has been his inability to effectively work the margins. The Sixers’ most reliable reserve in the playoffs was Shake Milton. I’m pretty sure Milton would straight-up not play for the teams remaining in the playoffs.
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Matisse Thybulle’s future as a viable rotation-level player in the postseason is very much up in the air. Georges Niang is great in the regular season but he’s basically done once the playoffs role around. Furkan Korkmaz isn’t reliable, and the Sixers invested two roster spots in cooked, no-longer-playable veteran centers that Doc Rivers nonetheless tried his absolute hardest to play.
If the bench doesn’t get better, it might not matter how good the Sixers’ top four is. All the contenders have reliable benches — at least one or two players who can step in and provide 15-20 quality minutes in a big game. The Sixers are basically left hoping one of Milton or Niang gets hot on a given night while ignoring the defensive end of the floor.
Morey has generally done a good job since arriving in Philadelphia. He made something out of nothing with the Al Horford contract, he flipped Ben Simmons for James Harden (the right move in the moment, even if it ages poorly), and his moves on the margins have been largely solid (Maxey at 21, Reed/Bassey/Joe in the second round, Niang on a mini contract). He was dealt an impossible hand with the Harris/Horford contract conundrum and the Sixers’ lack of flexibility, but Morey’s main selling point is his creativity. He has to figure something out, because the bench isn’t good enough.