May 11, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers shooting guard Nick Young (11) in the second half of game 6 of the Western Conference quarterfinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs against the Memphis Grizzlies at the Staples Center. Grizzlies won 90-88. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE
The Sixers "Night Shift" was one of the main reasons the team got off to a torrid 20-8 start last season. Not only did the Sixers have the second-best Sixth Man in the entire NBA, but they had a paired him (Lou) with another top 10 Sixth Man, in Thaddeus Young, along with first round picks, Evan Turner and Nikola Vucevic – and later Lavoy Allen – to boot. All the starters needed to do was tread water, until the bench came in for "the kill".
As Doug Collins shuffled the lineup, like Kim Kardashian does boyfriends, the "Night Shift" lost some of its luster and became less of an advantage for the Sixers, as the season went on. Which brings us to next season, when both the Sixers starting lineup and bench will look much, much different than they did in 2012.
Lou Williams is officially gone. Evan Turner will likely remain a starter, and the once potent, and terrifically balanced four-man "Night Shift" of Lou, Thad, Evan and Vucevic will probably look something like Harkless, Moultrie, Vucevic and Nick Young in 2013.
Without Lou's ball-handling and ability to carry the load offensively, the Sixers bench may have trouble scoring, and unlike the early part of last season, probably won't be a team strength. Which brings me to the question, who should be the Sixers Sixth Man in 2013?
It's impossible to have any sort of definitive answer, with the majority of the roster still in flux, but my vote has been, and will remain, Evan Turner.
It's been well-documented that Evan plays better "with the ball in his hands". When he's sandwiched between Jrue Holiday and Andre Iguodala (who may not be here much longer), in the starting lineup, he has a tendency to disappear offensively. Playing off the ball has never been his strength. So, why not hand him the reigns for the "Night Shift"? Not only would it benefit him individually, but it would provide the second unit with the primary ball-handler that most NBA benches lack. Pair him with a big to run the pick n' roll with (Moultrie), a big who can pick n' pop (Vuce and Lavoy), an athletic wing to run with in transition (Harkless and N. Young) and a potent spot-shooter (?????) and I think being the floor general of that unit would be both Turner's and the team's best chance at success.
The other options – should Turner remain in the starting lineup – would be newly-signed Nick Young, who could certainly carry the load offensively, a la Lou, but wouldn't get anyone else involved, or Thaddes Young, who provides a sparkful energy, and that's about it.
Keeping Iguodala around gives the Sixers a lot of options, while trading him for a big man would limit the number of sixth man candidates. Either way, my vote is for Evan Turner, whether or not the starting 1-2-3 is Jrue-N. Young-Iguodala or Jrue-N. Young-Harkless.