What the Sixers with Markelle Fultz might look like | Bob Cooney
How the addition of Markelle Fultz would impact the Sixers roster.
WITH THE finalization of the trade with Boston that will garner the No. 1 pick for the 76ers in Thursday's draft expected to be announced sometime Monday, it's as good a time as any to start taking a look at the roster: Who may fall into what role and who may not be in the plans moving forward.
In Markelle Fultz, the Sixers get a 6-5 point guard with tremendous scoring ability, terrific court awareness and a fondness for getting the ball out on the break - all skills that coach Brett Brown wants in a player. How he'll fit and with whom is the question.
Team president Bryan Colangelo and Brown brought in Jerryd Bayless last season specifically to be a backcourt fit with Ben Simmons. Bayless can make shots, which is a skill this team sorely needs. Limited to just three games last season because he required surgery for torn wrist ligaments, Bayless shot a career-best 43.7 percent from three during the 2015-16 season with the Milwaukee Bucks, making 101 of 231, both career highs. He is one of the few veterans on the team and plays an important role in the locker room.
Depending on how Fultz transitions to the NBA in the early going, Bayless could begin the season in the starting lineup while the 19-year-old top pick gets acclimated to the NBA game. Or perhaps Fultz is ready right off the bat for starter's minutes. If that's the case, Bayless is a solid guard off the bench. While the point-guard spot seems a bit crowded with Simmons, Fultz and Bayless, the Sixers still probably will find a roster spot for T.J. McConnell, as he proved to be able to get the team to play well in Brown's fast-paced system.
There is still a need for another outside shooter in the backcourt, even with the addition of Fultz. Free agency could take care of that, perhaps with the likes of J.J. Redick, who certainly won't break the Sixers' bank.
Robert Covington's progression as a player has fit exactly into the scheme the team is trying to perfect. Brought into the league because of his outside shooting, Covington now is among the top perimeter defenders in the league. If he can find his shooting touch again from outside, perhaps around the 37-to-38 percent range from three (he dipped to 33 percent last season), it would be a huge help to the offense. Justin Anderson might be a player who could provide some help at the small-forward spot with his energy and toughness.
Power forward and center are pretty well set but will see some tweaking. In his rookie season, Dario Saric proved to be someone who can be relied on for 30 or so good minutes a night, providing some scoring and rebounding. He showed only flashes of how good a passer he is last season. Expect to see more of that this season.
Joel Embiid played his best basketball of his 31-game season when he was paired with a stretch four, and that was Ersan Ilyasova. Bringing him back, or another stretch four, might be something the team looks into.
Brown has said he sees Embiid, when healthy, being a 36-minute a game player. Let's go with the assumption he'll be healthy next season, which leaves backup minutes to either Richaun Holmes or Jahlil Okafor. Moving Okafor is still hard but probably needs to be done, no matter the return.
So, come October, how about a starting lineup of Simmons, Fultz, Covington, a stretch-four acquired in free agency, Embiid and a bench consisting of Saric, an acquired shooter, Anderson, Holmes, Gerald Henderson, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, McConnell and Nik Stauskas?
All of the sudden, health withstanding, this team has a whole new look about it, sprinkled with youth, experience and a bunch of potential talent.