The Philadelphia 76ers entered training camp with a lot of the things to figure out, and are still in the process of working things out.
With one preseason game remaining, Philadelphia’s roster count remains at 20 players as the 76ers have been ravaged by injuries. The Sixers (1-5) close out their exhibition campaign at Miami on October 21, so they essentially have five days to sort out their cuts.
Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, Jahlil Okafor, Jerryd Bayless, Robert Covington, Jeremi Grant, Gerald Henderson, Richaun Holmes, Timothe Luwawa-Cabarrot, Sergio Rodriguez, Robert Covington, Dario Saric, and T.J. McConnell already have roster spots sewn up. That leaves one big question, concerning the roster, which is who will earn the the final two roster spots? Hollis Thompson, Nik Stauskas, Elton Brand, and Brandon Paul are the players likely still in competition for the last two slots.
In all reality, Philadelphia could only have one roster spot remaining if Brand has already made the team as Inquisitr previously reported. The 38-year-old has only appeared in one preseason game this season, but his main contribution is expected to be leadership and tutoring the 76ers’ young bigs.
Brand could be called into action more than expected with Simmons (ACL) out for an extended period and Jahlil Okafor (knee soreness), as well as Nerlens Noel (left groin strain) currently coping with injuries. There is good news for the Sixers, as Keith Pompey of The Inquirer Daily News is reporting Okafor is expected to be ready for the season opener. However, Noel is not expected to suit up when the Sixers host Oklahoma City on October 26.
Okafor has been sidelined since he had surgery to repair a meniscus tear in his knee in March. Noel was hurt in the first week of training camp and has not played in the preseason.
Pompey added that while Sixers plan on limiting Embiid’s minutes, he could play in back-to-back games.
#Sixers not ruling out playing Joel Embiid in back-to-backs— Keith Pompey (@PompeyOnSixers) October 15, 2016
Embiid has been impressive in his first preseason action. He has reached double-figures in four of the five contests, averaging 11.2 points, along with 5.8 rebounds in just 14.4 minutes a game.
But back to filling out the roster. Thompson likely has a slight edge in the competition due to his experience, and shooting prowess. Although Paul has been the most impressive of the three players.
Thompson did not play in the 76ers 97-76 loss to the Detroit Pistons on October 15 as he was experiencing flu-like symptoms. Thompson has appeared in each of the other five preseason games, producing 7.6 points and 2.6 rebounds, while shooting just 37.1 percent from the floor along with 24 percent from beyond the arc. He made each of his three shot attempts and finished with nine points against Washington on September 13.
Thompson is a career 38 percent three-point shooter and averages 9 points a contest.
Paul has been relatively solid in his four preseason games. He is coming off a six point, two rebound performance as he shot 2-for-4 from the field and 1-of-2 from beyond the arc on Friday against the Pistons. The 25-year-old rookie is averaging 7.3 points, on 50 percent shooting from the field, and 36.4 percent from beyond the arc, and 2.3 rebounds.
Stauskas has struggled in his three preseason appearances. The 23-year-old has tallied four points and five rebounds in 50 minutes of action. He is shooting a paltry 9.1 percent (1-of-11) from the field, including 0-of-7 on three-point attempts.
Stauskas improved his performance last year in comparison with his rookie campaign. The former No. 8 overall pick of the Sacramento Kings, produced 8.5 points along with 2.5 rebounds as he shot 38.5 percent from the floor as well as 32.5 on three-point attempts.
Paul and Stauskas have both been hampered by injuries, according to Derek Bodner of Philly Mag. Cat Barber, Shawn Long, and James Webb III are also in camp for the Sixers.
In other news, McConnell will start at point guard against the Thunder on opening night, per the Inquirer Daily News. McConnell was thought to be battling Rodriguez for the backup point guard spot, but with presumptive starter Jerryd Bayless sidelined with a wrist injury, the 24-year-old will get another chance at running the team. Rodriguez will open as McConnell’s backup.
McConnell was very much a pleasant surprise last season, appearing in 81 games with 17 starts. He finished the season compiling 6.1 points, along with 4.5 assists, and 3.1 rebounds. The 6-foot-2 point guard has had a mix bag of performances this preseason, averaging 7.5 points and 3.8 assists, as well as 2.8 rebounds.
Rodriguez has been out of the NBA since 2009-10. The 30-year-old has struggled with his shot this preseason, but is leading the team with 5.8 assists. He is also turning the ball over a ton.
[Featured Image By Kamil Krzaczynski/AP Photo]