The Philadelphia 76ers were dealt some bad news Tuesday afternoon ahead of their game against the Detroit Pistons. Star point guard Ben Simmons, who’s dealing with back tightness, was downgraded from questionable to doubtful, leaving him unlikely to play in this game.
In turn, the Sixers are looking a big change to their starting lineup and it’s one that drastically impacts their bench as well. Along with the Simmons news, Philadelphia will have offseason acquisition Mike Muscala available to make his debut against the Pistons.
With all that news being taken into account, let’s take a look at the Sixers’ projected starting lineup as well the players who could potentially see playing time Tuesday.
Philadelphia 76ers’ Projected Starting Lineup if Ben Simmons Out
C: Joel Embiid
PF: Dario Saric
SF: Robert Covington
SG: JJ Redick
PG: Markelle Fultz
The 76ers have started Markellle Fultz over the first three games of the year, but he’s played shooting guard to this point. Keith Pompey of the Philly Inquirer revealed Fultz would slide over to the point in Simmons’ absence, which makes sense. The second-year guard has struggled at times this season, shooting just 33.3 percent from the field while averaging 8.3 points, 4.7 assists and 3.7 rebounds per game.
The other big move will be re-inserting JJ Redick into the starting lineup. It would make the most sense, as he adds a scoring punch to the group and currently starts the second half of games over Fultz. Moving Redick into the starting five would create a need for second-unit scoring, though, which is why we’ll break down the potential rotation.
Philadelphia 76ers’ Projected Rotation if Ben Simmons Out
*Note: This includes players who have seen playing time and/or are expected to see the court against the Pistons.
C: Joel Embiid, Amir Johnson
PF: Dario Saric, Mike Muscala
SF: Robert Covington
SG: JJ Redick, Landry Shamet, Furkan Korkmaz
PG: Markelle Fultz, T.J. McConnell
I’m not sure if Furkan Korkmaz will see a huge bump in minutes, as he’s only averaging 5.3 this season. But Muscala should see a big boost while playing the stretch-four role Ersan Ilyasova played for the team last season. Amir Johnson’s size will also be needed against the Pistons duo of Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin so his 13.7 minutes per game could increase.
One key area worth mentioning is the guard spot. T.J. McConnell and Landry Shamet will likely play big roles off the bench and be the primary scorers for the second unit. Both players have seen solid minutes over the first three games, and Shamet will likely step in as the second unit’s outside shooter with Redick starting.
Sixers coach Brett Brown did opt to play McConnell over Fultz in the fourth quarter of their last game, so expecting the 26-year-old to play solid minutes makes sense.
Source: Heavy Sports