Sixers: Projecting the 2022-23 starting five and bench unit

James Harden, P.J. Tucker, Sixers (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
James Harden, P.J. Tucker, Sixers (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

Sixers starting power forward: Tobias Harris

Tobias Harris completely changed the way he played after the James Harden trade. The result was his most productive and efficient stretch as a Sixer, even if he was mostly operating as the fourth option on a loaded offensive team. Less has always been more with Harris, and he appears ready to carry the momentum of last season’s revelatory adjustments into the 2022-23 campaign.

He will never live up to the lofty expectations that come with a max contract, but Harris is an extremely beneficial player. If he continues to embrace quick-trigger 3s and strong, decisive moves to the rim, he will continue to thrive off of the gravitational pull of Harden at point, Maxey on the wing, and Embiid in the middle.

More than ever, Harris will also be called upon defensively. The Sixers bolstered the roster’s two-way capacity with the additions of P.J. Tucker, De’Anthony Melton, and Danuel House, but there are more questions than ever about Matisse Thybulle’s future in the league. Tucker shouldn’t play big minutes in the regular season, and the Sixers need a consistent stopper on the perimeter. Harris’ willingness to take on critical matchups in the postseason was equal parts admirable and essential. If he can elevate himself to a true plus on defense, the Sixers are in a great place.

It will be interesting, as the season progresses, to see how Doc Rivers plans his late-game lineups. P.J. Tucker should, in theory, close a lot of games, but do you want him carrying the burden of intense wing matchups in the regular season while Harris guards fours? Do you swap Tucker for Harris in certain matchups? Is it Melton who gets the late-game nods instead of Tucker? We can only wait and see.