Philadelphia has one of the best tandems in the league with reigning MVP Joel Embiid and emerging superstar Tyrese Maxey. Add some solid veterans who know their role to the mix, and you have the potential for a very dangerous team. To this point, the Sixers can be explained in two different scenarios:
Philadelphia had a nice rotation before the James Harden trade that featured Kelly Oubre Jr. off the bench with a start or two. The team was playing well, and the rotations were beginning to take shape.
After the Harden trade, there were some questions about the second unit, and then Oubre Jr. goes down with an injury. From here, the 76ers had to regroup, and figure what was best for both the starting lineup and bench.
The current picture of what Philadelphia is and who they can be is starting to come back into focus, now that the dust has settled and the roster has readjusted to changes in personnel.
Oubre Jr. made his miraculous return on Dec. 6 against Washington. He scored 12 points, with 10 of those coming down the stretch in the fourth quarter, for a narrow 131-126 win. He is back to playing off the bench, as he works to get back into top form. Oubre Jr. has adopted the mindset of Bruce Lee.
“I try to be water,” Oubre told reporters postgame Friday.
Lee was famous for his expertise in martial arts and film, however his philosophy of being water makes perfect sense in reference to Oubre Jr. and his role in Philadelphia. He is fluid and can take the shape of just about anything asked of him.
In the win 114-125 over Atlanta on Dec. 8, he played 23 minutes and produced 11 points, three rebounds, two steals and a block with no turnovers. He is averaging 16.0 points while shooting 50.9% in his five games as a reserve this season. The 76ers are 9-1 in the 10 games that Oubre. Jr. has played this year.
“I really want to help this team do well. I want to be up there with the guys and compete,” Oubre said. “Coach [Nick Nurse] is a genius though. He knows how to coach the game. He knows how to put people in the right places, so I trust him, and I just want to win. I’m here to win.”
Head coach Nick Nurse has a good problem on his hands now that Oubre Jr. is back and contributing very well.
Kelly Oubre Jr. will get significant minutes which could mean less playing time for a handful of people.
“Everybody’s got to stay ready,” Nurse said. “There’s you know, 12, 13 guys that could hit the floor any night so, stay ready’s the theme.”
Winning is what matters most, and the team will get to a point in the coming weeks where they will fully understand who they are, and what needs to be done to rise toward the upper echelon of the Eastern Conference standings.