Preseason basketball has kicked off and, before you know it, the Sixers will take the court to start another season of meaningful basketball to which fans have quickly grown accustomed. The team has a new-and-improved starting lineup and a deeper bench than it has had in years, something that should help come playoff time. With brand new players come brand new roles to adapt to over the course of the season. It won’t happen at the snap of Brett Brown’s fingers, but with the surplus of talent now available, the hope is that things come together quicker than last year. Brown relied on different members of “The Quiet Tournament” throughout the 2018-19 season, and in the end, it was James Ennis who benefited most. This year, we could be looking at the second annual tournament.
As of now, the players locked into significant playing time off of the bench appear to be James Ennis and Mike Scott, with the rest of the roster seemingly fighting for minutes. Players like Zhaire Smith and Matisse Thybulle are sure to get minutes, but the amount might be dictated on how they play to start the year. The Sixers have shown a fondness for staggering the starting lineup with the backups throughout the game so that not all five are off the court at the same time. The newly re-signed Tobias Harris is sure to command a lot of playing time at both forward positions, so Smith and Thybulle will find minutes backing up Josh Richardson, in addition to filling in for Harris when he sits or slides up to power forward.
Both players have enough upside to warrant a role on this team, and if each young player can play up to his potential, they shouldn’t have a problem getting minutes. The battle between Smith and Thybulle isn’t necessarily a battle that only one will win, but more about which one will jump ahead of the other and grab a role first. After the first preseason game, it seems like Thybulle has the inside track on early minutes.
Last year’s Quiet Tournament involved three players in Ennis, Jonathon Simmons and Furkan Korkmaz fighting for one spot. This year, multiple spots are up for grabs. Besides Smith and Thybulle fighting for minutes, the backup point guard spot is seemingly wide open. Both Trey Burke and Raul Neto were signed to give the Sixers different options when Ben Simmons needs rest.
Burke is known to be the sharpshooting spark plug that gives the Sixers an outside presence from the point guard position. It seems like as of right now he might have the leg up on Neto, but that could change if Neto can prove to be the levelheaded lead guard that he was when healthy in Utah. Neto can play solid defense and command the offense like a true point guard and should find minutes in situations where the Sixers need to slow the tempo down and control the game. This situation isn’t as fluid as the backup wing spots because Simmons only gives up a minimal amount of minutes, so both Burke and Neto need to impress in order to break the rotation at all.
The difference between last year’s Quiet Tournament and a potential one this year is that now, the Sixers might legitimately have too many good options. Last year, this tournament was needed to find difference makers right before the playoffs. Now, the team can take its time to figure out who fits best where and in what situations. There are spots in the rotation up for grabs and the Sixers seem to have found the right players to go out and make their cases for them.
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