The Sixers’ rotation seems to be mostly set for the upcoming season. A combination of veteran experience and youth makes for a solid top ten on the roster, but there are still a few other players that aren’t talked about much. While the Sixers rarely swap in five players at once, and usually try to stagger their top players, the bench is still going to play a vital role in the team’s success.
Players such as T.J. McConnell, Markelle Fultz, and Wilson Chandler are sure to get many of the bench minutes because of their ability to play several positions, with others such as Mike Muscala and Amir Johnson filling out the rest of the main pieces from the second unit. That leaves little room for anyone else to work their way into the rotation, especially the three new members of the team in Landry Shamet, Shake Milton, and Jonah Bolden.
The Sixers are in position to make some serious noise come playoff time, but they shouldn’t turn their backs on trying to develop these young guys throughout the year. They don’t need to start the trio of rookies against the NBA’s best, but if it means giving them minutes each game to learn the ins and outs of the professional game then so be it.
Shake Milton is in the best position to stay in game shape and keep growing since he is signed to a two way deal. He may find himself playing most of the year in Delaware because fo the surplus of guards on the bench, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Milton, the second round pick, is still raw enough in his game that some extra time away from the professional team could do him some good. When he is up with the Sixers they should look to get him a few minutes here and there, as his length and touch from the outside would be a great addition to the guard depth that doesn’t have a lot of either.
Unlike Milton, both Landry Shamet and Jonah Bolden don't have the luxury of getting consistent minutes with the Blue Coats. Likely to be on the end of the bench, both may find it tough to get into the lineup on most nights, but they have one thing on their side, the head coach. Brett Brown has shown a willingness to let players lower on the totem pole work their way into the rotation through practice. If Brown believes a player can help the team he will find minutes. Practice will have to be where both Shamet and Bolden sharpen their teeth, and if they impress enough they could get their chance eventually.
Because of what each young player brings to the table, there is a chance they can work their way into everyday minutes. Shamet was drafted for his outside shot and ball handling abilities. With the one dimensional offensive game of T.J. McConnell and questions surrounding Markelle Fultz, the Sixers could use a true shooter. Giving Shamet minutes when in need of a quick bucket or a few three pointers could be a role Shamet looks to fill as the season progresses. The lone big man sitting at the end of the bench also has a chance to get some run at some point this year. Jonah Bolden has the length, athleticism, and threat of an outside shot that could give the Sixers a different look on both offense and defense that they haven’t been able to get out of prior backup big men. He has the body to play both power forward and center, so he can come in and play a role wherever needed.
On many teams around the league the end of the bench is usually filled with veterans who have experience in game situations if they are needed. The Sixers are different. The players they have at the end of the bench are young and raw and so they’re moldable. What makes a team great is being able to find players who aren’t going to be superstars but still finding a way for them to have a productive role on the team. Each of the three players (Bolden, Shamet & Milton) are so new to the professional game that they have the opportunity to grow into whatever role Brett Brown demands of them.