So, who starts for the Sixers this season?
Although he insists that it is too early to tell exactly who will start for the Sixers on opening night, coach Brett Brown has given some good insight as to how he sees his lineup looking come the season's start.
Brown informed media members on Thursday that reigning Rookie of the Year, Michael Carter-Williams, would not be a full participant at the team's training camp, and his exact return date is not yet known. In his absence, Brown plans to put the ball in Tony Wroten's hands. Wroten will serve as the Sixers' starting point guard in the preseason, and the duties will likely carry over to the regular season if Carter-Williams is still not good to go.
"I'm going to try to cultivate him," Brown said about Wroten, sharing that he sees him as the backup point guard. Primarily playing point should improve Wroten's on-ball abilities.
Okay, so the point guard position seems somewhat set, but what will the rest of the lineup look like on opening night?
Brown sucked away some of the suspense of the situation by revealing that he intends to start Henry Sims at the center spot alongside Nerlens Noel, who will play power forward in preparation for his pairing with Joel Embiid.
"I expect to double up with Nerlens [Noel] and Henry [Sims]," Brown revealed to media members Thursday. When we drafted Joel Embiid, I had to step back because I always envisioned Nerlens as a five-man."
The pairing of two talented bigs in Noel and Embiid reminds Coach Brown of another famous frontcourt he was pretty familiar with.
"When we drafted Joel [Embiid] you have this desire to try and relive memories, and I say this only from a height perspective, of Timmy and David."
Timmy and David of course refers to Tim[my] Duncan and David Robinson, the two seven-footers who Brown worked with during his successful stint in San Antonio. (Safe to say that similar success to that enjoyed by Robinson and Duncan would be a best-case scenario for the Sixers.)
While Sims starting at center is not set in stone, it is likely, as that's the way Brown is leaning.
"I don't want to prematurely predict anything, but if I'm candid, that's how I see it to start the season," he admitted.
So we have Carter-Williams at the point guard position (or Wroten if Carter-Williams is unavailable), and Noel and Sims forming the frontcourt, but what about the perimeter positions? The shooting guard and small forward positions seem to be the only ones still up in the air.
On Thursday, Brown said he sees second-year swingman Hollis Thompson more as a small forward on defense, and Thompson's experience and familiarity with the Sixers' system (41 starts last season) should help him land the starting spot, especially in the absence of a more clear-cut solution.
Still open is the starting shooting guard spot, and here Brett Brown has a couple of options. Former slam-dunk champion Jason Richardson is set to return to the court for the Sixers this season, and at age 33, he is by far the team's most experienced and accomplished player. Richardson however has no place in the franchise's future, and it would be a questionable move to start him over young players that have a chance to stick with the Sixers moving forward, especially in a season dedicated to development. So while Richardson may be one of the team's top talents, or at least he would have been at one point, he will likely be used in some sort of reserve role. Recent acquisitions Malcolm Lee and Alexey Shved will compete for the spot, as will 2014 second-round selection K.J. McDaniels. Due to his dedication defensively, and Brett Brown's desire to establish a 'defensive identity' this season, I'd give the edge to McDaniels.
While the starting lineup is likely to change several times throughout the year, as it did last year, to start the season, it will likely look like this:
PG: Carter-Williams (Wroten if Carter-Williams is unavailable)
SG: K.J. McDaniels
SF: Hollis Thompson
PF: Nerlens Noel
C: Henry Sims
With a young lineup comprised entirely of players with less than three years of NBA-experience, for the Sixers the 2014-15 season will be completely dedicated to development.