The Philadelphia 76ers are hot right now, and a little askew from center. You see, this team has had the benefit of no more than 13 healthy players seemingly at a time, and yet the team is hotter right now that it has been for three years.
While there will be plenty of speculation and debate over that date and its significance, it opens up a new dialogue. Who plays in the back court with him?
The player selected will need to be very versatile, agile, and compliment Simmons’ skillset. So who are the choices? Well, right now, we know that Jerryd Bayless is out for the season, and that T.J. McConnell plays point guard, but is currently nursing an injured wrist.
Veteran Gerald Henderson is certainly a valid choice. Currently the starter at the shooting guard position, he brings tenacity to the defensive side of the court, accurate shooting from both the floor and the perimeter, 2.6 rebounds, 1.7 assists, .6 steals and .26 blocks per game on an average of 24.5 minutes per game.
But Henderson is truly a shooting guard. As such, he defends shooting guards. If the plan to play Ben Simmons at point guard, but have Simmons guard the small forward, the team will need to shift defensive responsibilities. Henderson defends the perimeter happy shooting guard. Will he mesh with Simmons if head coach shifts defensive responsibilities?
Nik Stauskas was a highly coveted player by the former front office of the Philadelphia 76ers, and for good reason. A slow starter in the NBA, he’s beginning to come into his own. Now averaging 8.9 points, 2.6 rebounds, 2.0 assists, .49 steals, .41 blocks per game on just 26.3 minutes per game.
As an added incentive, Stauskas has been playing minutes at point guard. That gives Stauskas the versatility to defend both guard positions. That could place him on the top of the lineup. But we have one more.
Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot is the first player added to the team roster following Ben Simmons’ arrival. Perhaps that was more than just the order of the draft.
Team chemistry is so very important for a team. Players must play, and play together, to work out the details of running plays. On paper, the skillsets of TLC are virtually a perfect symbioses with those of Simmons. Simmons has great handles and pinpoint passing. TLC has great off-ball moves and can separate from his defender when he drives to the basket.
Simmons can shoot rebound pass and block . TLC can shoot steal and block, if he gets playing time. Perhaps the arrival of Simmons will trigger more minutes for the rookie.
However you see it, the choice is not as obvious as you may think. Simmons will change the shape of the current lineup. Hopefully, head coach Brown will anticipate what the team will become, and have the right players on the court when it happens.