With the All-Star break upon us and two new players recently added to the mix, NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Paul Hudrick and Noah Levick ask: What should the Sixers’ playoff rotation be?
Brett Brown has said his rotation will be around 10 for the rest of the regular season and that it’ll shrink to nine for the playoffs. With a roster full of options after the team acquired Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson III, Brown was a man of his word, playing 10 on Tuesday against the Clippers.
I wouldn’t expect the playoff rotation to differ too much from what we saw in that win. Mike Scott played just five minutes and would likely be the odd man out. As Burks and Robinson get more comfortable, I suspect they’d move ahead of 22-year-olds Matisse Thybulle and Furkan Korkmaz for minutes simply based on experience.
Give credit to GM Elton Brand. It would’ve been a real crapshoot to depend on two players as young as Thybulle and Korkmaz as your sixth and seventh men. Though he’s struggled this season, it’s not bad to have an insurance policy like Scott waiting in the wings as your 10th guy, either.
The Sixers have options off the bench. That doesn’t mean they need to use all of them, but they do have the personnel to adapt to different matchups. Instead of an inflexible rotation, the goal should be optimizing what they have.
Assuming he continues to come off the bench, Al Horford is an obvious “sixth man.” Thybulle should still play a part because he can guard opposing stars, create turnovers and make open threes.
It doesn’t seem like many spots are guaranteed. Burks can get his own shot out of stagnant offense, a valuable playoff skill. He might also be important, along with Josh Richardson, as someone who can run a pick-and-roll effectively. Robinson is shooting almost 40 percent from three-point range this season and can guard multiple positions. When he’s in the zone, Korkmaz looks unstoppable.
There’s probably a little more risk in playing Korkmaz over the other bench options. Even though Brown has praised his defensive improvement, Korkmaz is likely going to need to score in the playoffs to be a net positive. However, against a zone defense, in a situation where the Sixers need three-point shooting, or simply if he’s coming off a big game, it’s possible Korkmaz would be preferable to Burks and/or Robinson.
Scott didn’t play in the second half vs. the Clippers. Though he does have a recent track record of making important playoff shots, it appears likely he’ll have a peripheral role.
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