There are only two sure things about the 76ers' active roster.
The first thing is that Michael Carter-Williams, James Anderson, Evan Turner, Thaddeus Young, and Spencer Hawes are the clear starters. The second thing is that power forward/center Lavoy Allen is an experienced NBA player who is finding his way back into shape.
"And after that, who knows?" Sixers coach Brett Brown said before Monday's 104-93 setback to Cleveland in Columbus, Ohio. "You have six NBA players and then you have a bunch of guys who are fighting for spots and want to be seen and need opportunity."
The former San Antonio Spurs assistant is not including injured players - rookie Nerlens Noel (torn anterior cruciate ligament) and veterans Jason Richardson (knee), Kwame Brown (hamstring), and Arnett Moultrie (ankle). All have guaranteed contracts and are expected make the 15-man roster.
Brown tried to clarify comments he made Monday, when the rookie head coach said he didn't expect Noel to play this season.
At Tuesday's practice, Brown said the decision on whether Noel will play "is going to made by a variety of a lot smarter people that me. Who knows what's going to happen with Nerlens? We hope he can come back."
The Sixers, who are 1-4 heading into Wednesday's preseason finale against Minnesota at the Wells Fargo Center, still have decisions to make before cutting their roster in time for the start of the season. NBA teams must cut their rosters to 15 players by Sunday, although Brown hasn't ruled out finalizing the roster sooner.
"For me, I go straight away to just the type of people [they are]," Brown said. "You know, are they going to be reliable? Are they going to compete? Are they going to be day-to-day? Do they come with personality? Can they be coached? Do they want to be coached? All those things matter."
Brown said he wants to select the right personalities for what is expected to be an extraordinarily difficult season. He wants players who can withstand the losses, stay positive, and keep the locker room together.
High character will win out when deciding between two players who are close in talent.
"It's not even close," Brown said. "It has to be [that way]. Imagine going through the learning curve and the learning pains and, at times, some losses are going to be mounting up and mounting up and mounting up."
During those stretches, he added, the Sixers must still stay together, still play defense, still stay in great shape, and still play good basketball.
"We are not going to let it get ratty," Brown said. "We are not going to let it break up. All those things have to be the foundation of anything that we do or it will get ratty quick.
"And we can't let it. I can't let it. So it always gets back to people."