After a few months of uncertainty, basketball has made its official return. All of the teams participating in the Orlando bubble have completed the round of scrimmages to get back up to speed before the real games start. It’s nice to see the stars get some reps in, but for the most part, the scrimmages were all just tune-up games with no effect on how much they’ll play when the games actually matter. For some players though, this has been a great opportunity to show their value in hopes of gaining a role once rotations get smaller.
The Sixers have proven to have a deep roster throughout this season. For the first time in years, they have actually been able to rely on some members of their bench unit. Even though they have a deeper team, once the playoffs roll around, they will have some tough decisions to make on who plays and who gets cut out of the rotation completely. Newer players to the team like Glenn Robinson III and Alec Burks have a lot to prove in this restart, as both aren’t only looking to make an impact heading into the playoffs, but also for big contracts in the offseason.
Alec Burks is in a tricky situation, likely fighting with one of the Sixers’ most consistent bench scorers in Furkan Korkmaz for a role come playoff time. Korkmaz is known as the top catch-and-shoot option on the bench, but if the Sixers need an extra ball handler or Furkan struggles early, the Sixers shouldn’t be shy to make a necessary change by giving Burks minutes. Burks was given ample time in the second half of scrimmages when many of the reserves played and looked solid as both a shooter and facilitator. He won’t be the top bench option, but the Sixers could do much worse than having to turn to Alec Burks in a pinch.
The player who was shipped to Philadelphia at the trade deadline alongside Burks also has a chance to improve his standing during the seeding games. Glenn Robinson III is another wing that can shoot and be physical in the lane, something the Sixers should not take for granted when looking at all of the other physical teams in the Eastern Conference. With his ability to size up and the four and extend the floor, and with the struggles of Mike Scott this season, it would not be surprising to see Robinson jump him in the pecking order once the seeding games start.
One of the Sixers that seemingly came out of nowhere this season was hard-nosed center Norvel Pelle. His high energy pace and ability to make life difficult for the opposition around the rim makes him a great player to develop long-term. He hasn’t had a big effect on the team this season, but you can never have too much depth. Both Joel Embiid and Al Horford have dealt with injuries this season, so it’s not out of the question that Pelle could be thrust into an important role in the playoffs or before.
Even without injuries coming into play, Horford has underwhelmed on defense most of the season. If Brett Brown sticks with his plan of using the free agent signing off of the bench, it might not be the worst idea in the world to have Pelle come in for some defensive sets instead of Horford. Out of all the players listed, Norvel Pelle has the least likely chance of being a big difference maker the rest of this season, but he can still use the minutes he gets prior to the playoffs as a chance to prove to the Sixers they have someone worth investing in.
The Sixers seem pretty set with their rotation heading into the most important stretch of the season. While it’s great they are confident in what they have at the moment, it is also nice to know they have other options waiting in the wings should they need the extra firepower.