By Kevin McCormick, Sports Talk Philly Staff Writer
In an offseason where the Philadelphia 76ers made big splashes in an attempt to create a roster that can contend for a championship, the team also made a slew of smaller moves to fill some holes they have had in the past. One of those areas is the backup point guard. After trading Markelle Fultz at last season's trade deadline and letting TJ McConnell walk in free agency, the role is up for grabs.
The 76ers addressed the backup point guard role by signing two very different kinds of point guards, Trey Burke and Raul Neto. Both guards were drafted back in 2013; Burke was a lottery pick taken ninth overall and Neto was taken late in the second round. They have different play styles, which makes it interesting as to who wins out the spot in the rotation to be the backup to Ben Simmons.
Burke seems like the early favorite as the player who is going to win the spot in the rotation. For his career, Burke’s stats sit at 10.9 points, 3.6 assists and 2.1 rebounds per game, all while shooting 34% from deep. He is a proven scorer who has shown that he has the ability to get a bucket when he needs to. His skillset as an attacking, score-first guard fits well with what the 76ers need coming off the bench.
While being known for his scoring abilities, Burke has shown that he also can be a facilitator who could run the offense when Simmons is not on the floor. For his career, Burke has nearly a 3-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. He also thrives in the pick-and-roll game, something the 76ers utilize a lot in their offense.
Another reason why Burke is the front runner for the role is he falls into the “combo guard” category and could still come onto the floor with Simmons and play alongside him. He is a strong enough shooter that he can space the floor next to Simmons (who has yet to show the ability to shoot from outside in a NBA game) while also being a good enough ball handler to play some point when head coach Brett Brown wants to utilize Simmons more out of the post.
Burke is the kind of scoring guard the 76ers have always needed off the bench. He has proven that he can put up big numbers as a scorer, putting up a career-high 42 points in a game during the 2017-2018 season.
Neto could also be an interesting choice for this role. He is more of a pure point guard and a willing passer who can hold his own on the defensive end of the floor. His defense is the one major advantage he has over Burke, something that Brown values highly. For his career, he averages 4.8 points, 1.9 assists and 1.3 rebounds per game. He is also a career 37.7% shooter from deep, but has not taken those shots at a high volume thus far in his career.
Neto, like Burke, works well out of the pick-and-roll and is not afraid to attack the rim. Another bright spot in his game is that he has a great spot-up jump shot. The only negative against him is it would be tough to share the floor with Simmons except as a guy to spot up in the corner for the occasional 3-point shot.
Another player who could step up into this role is Shake Milton. After getting an NBA contract with the 76ers this summer, he will be looking to make his way into the rotation. We saw some of Milton in the point guard role during the Summer League, and he showed he has the playmaking potential. But with expectations being high for the team this summer, the nod will most likely go to one of the veterans.