By Kevin McCormick, Sports Talk Philly Staff Writer
The headline for the Philadelphia 76ers heading into the 2019-20 season was their starting lineup and how it could be one of the best in the NBA. With all of the hype that came with adding guys like Josh Richardson and Al Horford over the summer, some of the team's moves went under the radar. Due to the multiple moves that general manager Elton Brand made over the summer, not only do the 76ers have one of the best starting lineups in the league, they have also become one of the deeper teams.
Lack of depth on the bench was always something which hurt the 76ers in years past. Having a weaker bench was something which cost Philadelphia at times throughout the playoffs, when the team faced the Brooklyn Nets and the eventual NBA champion Toronto Raptors. So far this season it seems that the problem of depth has been solved as the 76ers' second unit has shown a lot of promise early this season.
The front office did a great job over the summer of bringing in the right group of veterans to pair with the stars in the starting lineup. Guys like Kyle O’Quinn, Raul Neto, and Trey Burke have all been around the league and know how to fall in line with their role. Each of those players also bring a veteran presence to an otherwise younger bench unit. Finding upgrades at both the backup point guard and center positions was an important task for Brand this past offseason, and those three players have shown to be serviceable when needed.
Neto has done a good job with his small amount of minutes, and he did an especially good job in the two games he was in the starting lineup filling in for the injured Ben Simmons. In the two games he played in the starting lineup, Neto averaged 11.0 points, 5.0 assists and 1.5 rebounds per game. He has done well as the primary ball-handler on the court at times and has been good as a floor spacer, knocking down a few spot-up threes.
Philadelphia's starting lineup is not the only part of the team that can specialize on the defensive end of the floor. The bench has the personnel to match the defensive energy that the starting lineup brings. Guys like James Ennis III, Mike Scott and rookie Matisse Thybulle are going to come in and bring energy and defense off the bench. All four of those players also have the ability to knock down some shots from beyond the arc.
The loss of JJ Redick seemed huge for the Sixers, but so far this season Furkan Korkmaz looks to be the floor spacer this team needs. Korkmaz also comes at a much cheaper price tag (two years for $3.38 million). He is averaging 9.7 points while shooting 40.7% from deep so far this season.
The 76ers will be making giving their stars rest throughout the regular season a priority this year, and having a deep team will make it so that the team does not often collapse when players like Joel Embiid or Al Horford get the occasional night off. Through only 11 games so far this season, we have already seen Neto, Korkmaz, and Thybulle appear in the starting lineup due to either injuries, suspensions or players resting for load management. Head coach Brett Brown’s job has gotten a little easier in making sure the stars get enough rest down the stretch in order to be ready for the playoffs.
Having a bench that can produce is going to be huge for the 76ers if they want to compete for a championship this season. They are going to need guys outside of the starting lineup to produce as this team looks to get passed the other top teams in the Eastern Conference as well as teams like the Los Angeles Clippers out in the Western Conference.