The Sixers are off to a great start this season. With a 5-1 record, they look primed to finish at or near the top of the Eastern Conference. There are a ton of bright spots so far, but also a few areas in need of improvement. One of the areas that needed a complete overhaul in the offseason was the backup point guard spot after Philadelphia’s prodigal son T.J. McConnell took his talents to Indiana. The Sixers brought in two players in Raul Neto and Trey Burke to take those backup point guard minutes, and yet, neither guy has seen much playing time so far.
Through six games, head coach Brett Brown seems driven to force the Josh Richardson as backup point guard experiment to work. Richardson has showed the tough-as-nails attitude that makes him a welcome addition in the starting unit next to a ball handler, but when he is tasked with leading the offense, the results have often been underwhelming. Using Richardson as the backup point guard hasn’t hurt the Sixers too much yet, but with other options readily available, Brown shouldn’t be shy to try new things this early in the year.
When he was signed this offseason, Trey Burke was looked upon as a potential spark plug for a bench unit that was going to have some question marks. He might not be the guy to slow things down and run an offense like Raul Neto, but Burke should be able to run around and get buckets, especially from deep.
While Trey Burke does bring a lot to the table, the thing most fans would like to see him bring to the rotation is his outside shot. One of the team’s biggest problems is the guards’ inability to shoot the ball efficiently. If we lump Ben Simmons, Josh Richardson, Furkan Korkmaz, Matisse Thybulle, Shake Milton, and Raul Neto together, the “guards” have combined to shoot 26-of-83 from 3-point range in the first six games of the season, good for 31.3 percent. That percentage isn’t great, and it’s not the volume you would expect in a modern NBA offense either. Adding a known shooter to the rotation should give it a significant bump.
Right now, the Sixers bench lacks someone willing to be the aggressor — Burke is that guy, and yet, he hasn’t seen the floor. Josh Richardson was a big addition to the team this year, but he just doesn’t make much sense as the lead guard of an offensive unit. Give both Burke and Raul Neto the chance to prove themselves in those few minutes and the Sixers become an even deeper team.
Trey Burke doesn’t need to be handed a giant role on the team from the start, but he should be given the chance to at least crack the rotation. It’s still very early on, but some of the problems that have reared their heads could potentially be solved with a few Burke minutes per game. Nothing is a given, but in order for the team to continue to grow, there needs to be a willingness to try some new things, starting with the #FreeTrey movement.