For the Sixers’ tall lineup, spacing will be a work in progress
How Joel Embiid and Al Horford work together down low will be especially important.
The 76ers will have one of the biggest starting lineups in the NBA, if not the biggest, as 6-foot-6 Josh Richardson will be the smallest starter.
One of the key points in training camp at the Sixers’ Camden practice facility is for the players to figure out comfortable spacing issues both offensively and defensively.
The spacing issue will be a work in progress, and it might go well past the preseason, especially with two new starters.
In addition to Richardson, the starters are 6-10 Ben Simmons, 6-9 Tobias Harris, 7-2 Joel Embiid, and 6-10 Al Horford.
On day two of training camp on Wednesday, things went a little smoother in the spacing department, Harris said.
“I thought [Tuesday] obviously was just a feel for everybody getting to know each other’s game and trying to figure out a little bit more spacing, but today we kind of got to see how that works,” Harris said. “It was very positive.”
It’s not only the big bodies that have to worry about spacing, but the guards. Point guard Trey Burke, who earned raves for his play on Tuesday, said after Wednesday’s workout that the spacing was to his liking.
“I played with Big Joel today a little bit, and the screens he set; the first time playing with Al, the screens that these guys are setting gets us open,” Burke said. “It is our job to make the right read.”
Coach Brett Brown has different parts on the practice court marked where different players should be, to help them not being too bunched up on the court.
“Spacing is kind of everything,” Brown said. “I am helped by my floor markings.”
Embiid and Horford will need to work out the spacing the most.
“We talked a lot trying to figure out how to play together, and the coaches, I am sure, they also will do a good job of having us on the court together, trying to make sure we kind of understand the spacing,” Embiid said Tuesday.
Horford, who spent the last three seasons with the Boston Celtics, acknowledged that it will take time for him to get used to his place in the Sixers’ offense.
“For me, [the challenge] is figuring my spots, where to get to, how coach wants to play and the pace we want to play at,” Horford said Tuesday.
That is why they have training camp and the preseason.
Even Harris, who was acquired from the Los Angeles Clippers on Feb. 6, is still getting accustomed to playing with Embiid and Simmons, not to mention newcomers such as Horford and Richardson. Still, he sees the positives, especially with such great length in the starting lineup.
“When you have that big a team defensively, you are able to be everywhere, and offensively it is figuring it each other’s game and each other’s spots out there on the floor,” said Harris, who averaged 18.2 points in 27 regular season games for the Sixers, and 15.5 points in 12 playoff games. “It is not a bad problem, it is a good problem to have that kind of size offensively.”