In case you haven't heard, Thaddeus Young is going to miss at least 2-3 weeks. This leaves the Sixers without their second leading scorer since the all-star break and their starting power forward (contrary to what Jimmy Fallon says).
Many questions surface in regards to "Baby Legs" twisted ankle. Will he be back for the playoffs? Should the Sixers shut him down? Who's going to pick up the slack? And who's going to start at the four during Thad's absence?
The question I'm going to focus on for the time being is, who's going to start at the four? If last night was any indication, we can expect to see Reggie Evans and his beard rollin' with the starters. Is this a good thing? A bad thing? The general consensus in Sixerland is "Start M16!" I'm the biggest Marreese Speights supporter there is. That's why it might surprise you that I disagree.
Here's 2 reasons Reggie Evans should get the nod (more why Speights shouldn't):
Marreese Speights is a rookie. Do we really want to go into the playoffs with a rookie in the starting lineup? You might say, "Well last year Thad started," and you'd be correct. The difference being, Thad already had 22 starts under his belt, and played significantly better as a starter. Speights has started twice this season and has shot more than 10 percent below his season's average. He also doubled his turnovers in just four extra minutes of play.
Before you (John) get all over me about a small sample size, consider this. In the two games M16 has started he did three things Thaddeus never did as a rookie.
- Looked and played nervous
- Forced shots
- Failed to play a lick of defense
Starting Speights would take away one of the Sixers biggest offensive weapons off the bench. This would make the already streaky second unit more likely to have scoring draughts.
Say Speights does start. The offense would be effective for the first nine minutes, with M16 shouldering Thad's scoring load. But what would happen when the second unit came in? Here's potential lineups:
PG - Ivey
SG - Lou
SF - Iggy/Rush/Marshall
PF - Reggie/Marshall
C - Theo/Reggie
Look at those possibilities and tell me where the offense would come from. We all know Lou's capable of going off and carrying the offense. However; 75 percent of the time he resorts to, dribbling 20 seconds off the shot clock, forcing difficult shots, or throwing jump-passes.
If Marreese plays with the second unit, things change. Brining him off the bench doesn't guarantee that the offense won't stall and blow leads like they normally do, but odds are Speights helps the second unit's half-court offense much more than Reggie does.
That's why I'd rather see Reggie's beard in the startling lineup rather than M16. It has nothing to due with who's a better player, and has everything to do with balance between the starting lineup and the second unit. Think back to the arguments of why Lou shouldn't start -- don't want to lose that spark off the bench. The same goes for Marreese Speights.
The question shouldn't be, "Who should replace Thad in the starting lineup?" It should be, "Which unit takes less of a blow when Reggie's inserted -- the starting lineup or the second unit?"
Speights biggest asset is his offense, and tell me which four-man lineup needs more offense more...
- Ivey, Lou, Iggy and Theo
- Miller, Bill Green, Iggy and Sam
Just for kicks, check out last night's +/- combos after the jump.
From last night's game:
Lou/Speights +/- (+3)
Lou/Reggie +/- (-4)
Sammy/Speights +/- (+1)
Sammy/Reggie +/- (-2)
Theo/Speights +/- (+11)
Theo/Reggie +/- (DNP)
3 or more starters/Speights +/- (+6)
3 or more starters/Reggie +/- (-6)