Sixers: 3 players who could make or break season

Matisse Thybulle, Sixers (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Matisse Thybulle, Sixers (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /
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Philadelphia 76ers
(Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images) /

Sixers’ make or break players: Isaiah Joe

This is the deepest team of the Joel Embiid era, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t weak points. If Tucker, House, and Thybulle are all guaranteed minutes on the wing, while Paul Reed fulfills backup five duties and De’Anthony Melton handles backup guard duties, that constitutes eight players. Doc Rivers has often gone nine, if not 10-deep in the regular season. Who else gets consistent minutes?

My guess out of the gate would be Georges Niang, who was by far the Sixers’ best bench player last season (which says something about the Sixers’ bench last season). He’s a great volume shooter and his attitude is suitably spunky. That said, Niang was almost unplayable in the playoffs due to his inability to move in space defensively. The Sixers could also go to Shake Milton, who’s big enough to defend on the wing and play with other guards.

In the end, however, the ideal outcome is an Isaiah Joe breakout. It’s past time for the former second-round pick to get a fair shot at the rotation. He could swiftly match or surpass Niang as the team’s top shooter, but more importantly, he’s a good defender. Joe’s steadfast competence on defense, combined with his healthy volume of 3-point attempts, makes him the perfect role player on paper. He can fly around screens and shoot on the move, he can spot-up on the fast break, he can pull-up — he has never had a problem taking 3s.

The fewer weak points in a team’s defense, the better. If Joe can finally earn Doc Rivers’ trust and starting burying 3s in a regular season context, his ability to adequately defend multiple positions on the perimeter is game-changing. The Sixers simply wouldn’t have a bad defender in the second unit at that point, which would mark quite the change from years past.

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