The Philadelphia 76ers generally deploy 10 players on a given night in the regular season. Doc Rivers has never been keen on developing young players, but he does frequently empower the bench unit — for better or worse.
Naturally, the playoffs will bring about a change in strategy. One has to imagine we will see no more of the all-bench lineups. One of Joel Embiid or James Harden will (or at least should) be on the floor at all times.
The 10-man rotation will probably shrink to eight or nine in the process. The Sixers are enjoying the best depth of the Embiid era this season, but there are still notable holes in the second unit. These are the players who Doc Rivers could be forced to move away from when the rubber meets the road.
3 players Doc Rivers might remove from 76ers playoff rotation
Naturally, this article will exclude players who are not presently in the rotation. To state the obvious, Furkan Korkmaz and Montrezl Harrell will not get minutes in the playoffs.
1. Georges Niang
The Sixers continue to lean on Georges Niang as a primary reserve in the regular season, with mostly positive results. He’s the best shooter on the team, spreading defenses thin as the opposition tries (often in vain) to contain the Embiid-Harden duo.
Niang’s quick-trigger confidence and effervescent spunk are undeniably valuable to the Sixers. He has been the most reliable bench player on the team not named Tyrese Maxey or De’Anthony Melton. So, why is he at risk of losing his spot in the playoffs?
Well, we’ve seen this story before. The Sixers tried to utilize Niang last postseason and were routinely punished for it. He’s an unavoidable weak link in Philly’s already brittle defensive chain. The playoffs bring about an intense focus on every team’s weaknesses, the chinks in the armor. Opposing offenses will make every effort to seek out and exploit Niang’s slow feet on defense.
His shooting value is real, and I would imagine Doc Rivers makes an effort to stick with Niang — especially in the first round, when Philly might be able to overwhelm a lesser opponent with offense alone. If the Sixers plan to challenge the likes of Boston or Milwaukee, however, it will be much more difficult to survive the constant targeting of Niang. Don’t be shocked if he is eventually riding the pine if the Sixers manage a deep run.