2. Danuel House Jr.
This is easily the deepest team of the Embiid era. Seldom have there been actual “tough cuts” once the playoffs arrive. But Danuel House (and Georges Niang) certainly qualify. House has been excellent down the stretch of the season and, on paper, he’s the exact kind of 3-and-D wing Philly can rely on.
But, the Sixers can’t go 10 or 11-deep. The all-bench lineups just can’t happen in April and May. Two of the “Core Four” should be on the court at all times. My general instinct would be to pair Embiid and Maxey for some stretches, then Harden and Harris for other stretches. Then there’s the second unit, with only limited minutes to go around.
Doc Rivers and the coaching staff will have to strike the right balance. Melton is basically the sixth starter, supplying the team with important point of attack defense on the perimeter and a healthy supply of 3s. Reed carries the sparse backup center minutes, while Shake gets 10-15 minutes to bolster the halfcourt offense with his shot creation.
If that’s how it plays out (I’m generally skeptical of Milton getting the nod here, but he should), then the Sixers are left to decide between House and the recently acquired Jalen McDaniels for the remaining wing minutes. There’s a strong argument for House: he’s a better 3-point shooter and he has far more experience at this level. But, the Sixers need to show some investment in McDaniels’ development. McDaniels is the more dynamic defender at 6-foot-9, having already proven himself in high-profile matchups for the Sixers. There is also some downside to House offensively. He’s the better shooter, but he’s too fond of pump-faking out of 3s and freelancing. McDaniels has value as a cutter and off-ball finisher working off of Harden.
So, House gets the axe despite several positive qualities. If McDaniels’ lack of shooting becomes problematic, however, don’t be surprised of House takes over those minutes. We all know Doc Rivers prefers to ride with his vets.