By Jack Kerwin | firstname.lastname@example.org
It's a problem.
How the 76ers didn't see this coming, and plan accordingly to handle it, efficiently, effectively and professionally, kinda defies all sensibilities.
Four centers, seven players standing 6-foot-10 or taller all told, with egos to match their size, and limited minutes available for two sports, or, at best, three. Maybe.
Let's be honest here, Ersan Ilyasova, the most pleasant of surprises added to the roster this season, and Dario Saric may be able to handle the “3,” but, really, they're both power forwards playing out of position, and No. 1 Ben Simmons, well, he remains as much of a question mark as he does a potential freak due to an injury that already has delayed his start in the NBA several months.
Joel Embiid may be a game-changer, but he is, without question, suited solely for center, as is Jahlil Okafor, Nerlens Noel and role player Richaun Holmes – despite the latter three being either shoved into the “4” repeatedly or expected to be in the future.
Sorry, doesn't work. In theory, or in practice.
Especially not with five of those guys being ballyhooed first-round draft picks, and another – Ilyasova – often the best player on the floor for the club. Yeah, even nights when Embiid is getting his full load of “be careful, he's brittle” allotted 24-27 minutes.
As head coach Brett Brown experiments with lineups and match-ups, tensions are going to mount ... regardless of whether victories ever do.
Noel's rant about “sh#t” gotta get figured out following his recent abbreviated stint will only serve as the tip of the iceberg on this.
It needed to be figured out long before this.
Pssst, it's OK to trade assets, Sixers, especially if it benefits the overall makeup of the team.
With the franchise sold on Embiid as the future, either Noel or Okafor had to go, preferably some place that would have yielded someone who could shoot, the Sixers' most glaring hole. Neither are going to satisfied in whatever role Brown comes up with for them at the moment, and once Simmons arrives things will change again – not to either of their liking.
The best lineup, peering ahead to 2017, with what is projected to be available, now with projected starting point guard Jerryd Bayless out for the rest of the season, seems to be this:
Embiid at center, Ilyasova at power forward, Robert Covington at small forward, Gerald Henderson/Nik Stauskas (pick your poison) at shooting guard and Simmons at point guard. It's not ideal, especially on the defensive side, but just can't take Sergio Rodriguez running the show anymore. He screams “liability” on both ends of the floor.
Noel could supply a burst of energy at the “5,” or Okafor some post-up offense there, depending on which guy gets in there ... or even remains. Saric and Ilyasova are almost interchangeable – which kinda makes either the drafting of the former or the acquiring of the latter only add to the overkill of bigs with similar skills – so the “4” would seem to be pretty consistent for 48 minutes.
Simmons, obviously, is the wild card. He could open things up a ton ... or further add to the glut that is creating a logjam that, frankly, never needed to exist by this point.