3 things to watch for in Sixers’ preseason opener vs. Nets

James Harden, Kyrie Irving, Sixers vs. Nets (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
James Harden, Kyrie Irving, Sixers vs. Nets (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /
3 of 3
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

Sixers-Nets what to watch for: The first 10

We know the first five: Joel Embiid, Tobias Harris, P.J. Tucker, Tyrese Maxey, James Harden. The next five, however, feels completely up in the air. Of all the reserves, De’Anthony Melton probably has the strongest hold on a rotation spot. Montrezl Harrell, meanwhile, is the favorite (if not the runaway favorite) to be Embiid’s primary backup at center. That leaves three wing spots to split between five or six viable candidates.

How Doc Rivers sets up his rotation will be perhaps the primary takeaway from Monday’s game and every other preseason game. Who is in the rotation, who is out of the rotation, and who is within striking distance?

If forced to bet on which three “wings” Rivers will go to, my bet would be Danuel House Jr., Georges Niang, and Matisse Thybulle. House was signed to the bi-annual exception and contributes on both sides of the ball. Niang was the Sixers’ best regular season reserve in 2021, and Thybulle is a truly one-of-one defensive player (however dreadful the offense may be on a given night). That said, there is competition afoot. Shake Milton was the Sixers’ best postseason reserve — is he going to drop from the rotation completely? Meanwhile, Furkan Korkmaz is back to full strength and Isaiah Joe is entering a contract year. Heck, even Paul Reed could sneak into some minutes at the four.

Doc Rivers will have choices to make. He has long favored experience, both broadly speaking (age) and within his system. House is a veteran who has played for winning teams, but he’s new to Rivers’ system. Is his place in the rotation set in stone? Joe is young and unproven, and thusly we haven’t seen him despite plenty of promising flashes. Will Rivers finally let him out of the doghouse. Then there’s Korkmaz and Milton: both are both Doc favorites. It will be a fascinating four-game stretch as far as who does (and doesn’t) see minutes staggered with the starting crew.

Next. Projecting the top 125 NBA players. dark