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Projecting the Sixers Frontcourt

With new additions Nikola Vucevic and Lavoy Allen, the Sixers now have seven players listed at 6'9 or over on their roster. Despite the fact that Marreese Speights was reportedly being shopped, Doug Collins has told reporters that he wants Mo on the team. Spencer Hawes re-upped for another year and Elton Brand's still in town, while Craig Brackins has worked on becoming a stretch 4 rather than improving on his sub-par post skills.

What's the big man rotation going to look like over the 66-game season? Hit the jump for more.

Eight players for two positions should make for a few interesting decisions early on for Collins. Recall that last season, the most effective lineup was with Brand and Thaddeus Young at the 4 and 5, even though a lot of words were spent a year ago lamenting Brand's distinct non-centerness. Will Hawes' play force Collins' hand? It's unlikely that he'll play more minutes this season than Young - the love affair between Doug and Thad is too strong, especially in light of the fat contract he just signed. Brand remains a fixture in the frontcourt for Doug, though his body is much better suited for 30 minutes per night these days. A minuted trio of 31-26-23 among Brand/Thad/Hawes is reasonable at this point.

That leaves just 16 minutes between the 4/5 spot (though Thad will be logging at least a few minutes at the 3). Collins will want his rookies to get their feet wet, but I don't see much time left for Lavoy to take - it seems a D-League trip or three are in his future. He's a relatively finished product though, and already a better offensive option than Battie. Due to the veteran misconception, Battie will be favored over Allen and given his 5-8 forgettable minutes per night.

With Vucevic fighting for minutes and Brackins slipping into the 3/4 spot when he gets hot from the outside, it appears even truer now than ever that Speights does not have a spot on this team. Backup point guard is still a big need for this team unless the Front Office is comfortable letting Evan Turner run the second unit. A swap of Speights for a guard (XAVIER HENRY!) or a 2nd rounder would be welcomed.

Whatever way you slice it, some big men are going to feel slighted. This isn't necessarily the worst crops of bigs in the league but in a conference that harbors such terrors as Dwight Howard, Al Horford, Tyson Chandler, and Amare Stoudemire, you worry about how much Brand's body can withstand before we have to count on less-able players to protect the paint. The strength of the group lies in its versatility and depth, but rebounding will be another big question mark going into the season.

Who's your first big man off the bench? Brackins? Vucevic? Due to the short season, Doug's going to ride the hot hand and it's more important than ever for the bigs to show him they are reliable options. Something to watch as we creep closer to game one.

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