The Sixers season has been filled with ups and downs, and right now the team is trying to dig themselves out of a rut, winning only one of their last five. Star players like Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid have lived up to lofty expectations, but with all of the injuries the team has endured, the rotation has yet to truly gel together.
Most recently Robert Covington went down with a back injury after diving for a ball out of bounds in Cleveland. One of the Sixers’ most important players, missing Covington for any extended period of time is a tough blow, as evidenced by the team’s performance Tuesday night against the Timberwolves. Covington is usually given the task of defending the opponent’s top scorer while also giving the Sixers an important three point shooter from outside. While J.J. Redick covered up Covington’s missing skill set on offense, defensively no one was able to stop Jimmy Butler.
It’s not just Covington, but several bench players have missed time, causing the entire team to suffer. He doesn’t play a huge role on the team, but Justin Anderson has been missed. A reliable defender who can score in bunches, Anderson also gives the Sixers another veteran with experience on the court, something that can’t be understated on such a young team. Couple that with smaller injuries to T.J. McConnell and Richaun Holmes and the Sixers have never truly been fully healthy this year.
All year the Sixers have been forced to change on the fly, and for the most part it has worked, but recently the team seems to be stuck. Youth can be a great thing and a hindrance for a basketball team, and right now you can see where youth hurts the Sixers. Unreliable wing players is the most obvious, and when Covington and Anderson return from injuries these weaknesses should return to being strengths.
Players that were thought to play an important role early on in the year have been inconsistent, and that is putting it nicely. Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and Jerryd Bayless can’t find their shots, Amir Johnson is in foul trouble before the game even starts, and Furkan Korkmaz can’t break into the rotation at this point in the season. Losing even one or two role players forces the Sixers to give minutes to players who hurt the team more than help them.
The injury bug is sure to plague every team in the NBA, but right now it is hitting the Sixers especially hard. An already weak bench is more depleted than usual, but with reinforcements coming soon the hope is that play will pick up. The Sixers have an incredible amount of potential, but to really see the rewards of that potential the team needs to stay on the court and out of the trainer’s room.
Side Note: Hope this dunk by Nick Young mid-Process brightens everyone’s day up. Can’t get enough Swaggy P.