The NBA playoffs are right around the corner, and this Sixers team has a lot of gelling to do. The Sixers’ starting lineup is great, but the bench is not. Brett Brown has some serious testing to do.
In the playoffs, starters will likely play anywhere from 34-40 minutes per game, which bodes well for the Sixers. Their bench pieces will only have to come in for a few minutes at a time and do their select role.
The Sixers, along with the obvious addition of Tobias Harris, added a badly needed wing defender in Jonathon Simmons. People, however, tend to forget they have another wing defender waiting, Zhaire Smith.
PFO Blue Coats has done a tremendous job getting footage of Smith as he rehabs down in Delaware.
Smith is an incredible perimeter defender, which will be huge when the Sixers (likely) face the Celtics and Kyrie Irving.
Zhaire Smith is not a guarantee to play this season, and even if he does, there is no guarantee he performs well. My inclination, however, is he will.
He and Jonathon Simmons will likely get a majority of guard minutes, simply due to their excellent defense.
J. Simmons, Smith, Boban, and Mike Scott seem to be the biggest guys off the bench, with Jonah Bolden and T.J. McConell getting minutes based on matchups.
We have seen Bolden’s minutes quickly disappear, and T.J.’s minutes are slowly going away as well.
I believe that Bolden could get run against mobile big men like Al Horford, but typically Boban will be the backup 5.
McConnell, even the spark plug that he is, cannot play against Boston. Brad Stevens did an incredible job using him as a liability, making him practically unplayable.
Back to Smith, he does provide offense off the bench as well. He is not a great shooter, but his mid-range and driving abilities will pay dividends for this Sixers team.
Come playoff time, I hope to see Smith and Simmons get run against quick guards, Bolden against mobile bigs, and Mike Scott to come in for 3-4 minute runs to provide shooting off the bench.
Report by Jack Margolin