As the Sixers gear up for their final preseason game Friday against the Celtics, all eyes are on the team’s final roster spots and who will make the cut when that number gets trimmed down to 15 on Monday.
There are 12 names that are seemingly locks to make the team based on their contracts and worth to the organization. Jahlil Okafor, Nerlens Noel, Joel Embiid, Robert Covington, Nik Stauskas, Jerami Grant, Richaun Holmes, Tony Wroten, Kendall Marshall, JaKarr Sampson, Isaiah Canaan, and Hollis Thompson seem to have done enough to not sweat it out this weekend when cuts are made.
Carl Landry, acquired as part of the Nik Stauskas trade with the Kings this summer, might stick around for contract reasons and veteran leadership as the 13th piece. That leaves potentially two roster spots up for grabs out of the remaining group.
Much praise has been given to the play of both power forward Christian Wood and point guard T.J. McConnell throughout the preseason and they’ll have one last chance to prove themselves worthy of a roster spot on Friday.
RELATED LINK: The latest NHL Power Rankings
In the Sixers fourth preseason game against the Knicks, Wood registered a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds in 20 minutes. Coach Brett Brown has raved about his potential and upside so far in preseason. Wood is confident he’ll be back at practice on Monday.
“I think my chances [to make the roster] are pretty high,” Wood said. “I think I’ve showed the GM and coach what I can do. I think they see it, so I think I have a pretty good chance of making the team.”
McConnell, although he has played well so far in preseason, is a bit more of a longshot. In the four preseason games in which McConnell has played, he’s averaged 7.3 points, 5.8 assists and 2.8 steals in 24 minutes. Coaches love his toughness and prowess on the defensive end.
“Toughness, tenacity and point-guard intellect,” coach Brown said of McConnell. “He has a combination of speed and quickness. His ability to push the ball from baseline to baseline is an A. His ability to pick up full court and pressure the ball is an A.”
Canaan, the projected starting point guard, put up great numbers offensively in the preseason scoring 14 points per game in 29 minutes. But his court vision and defensive intensity have come into question amongst analysts and coaches. McConnell might be the perfect player to compliment him with the last roster spot.
Both Wood and McConnell deserve to make the final spots, but nothing general manager Sam Hinkie does at this point will surprise anyone.
The cutting floor:
Jordan McRae – McRae has averaged 7.3 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.8 assists on a miserable 28 percent shooting. The Sixers will need to waive him by Saturday for his summer contract not to count against the salary cap.
J.P. Tokoto – Tokoto has been glued to the bench in preseason, averaging just 9.8 minutes per game and hasn’t really done anything worthy of a roster spot. Like McRae, the Sixers will need to waive him by Saturday for his summer contract not to count against the salary cap.
Pierre Jackson – A groin injury this summer has severely limited Jackson’s usual explosive play and has all but dashed his hopes of making the roster. He’s averaging just 2.0 points and 2.0 assists in two preseason games.
Scottie Wilbekin – Point guard Wilbekin has shown flashes of his scoring during the preseason. He notched 21 points in a loss to the Wizards last week and has scored in double figures in his past three preseason games. Unfortunately, Isaiah Canaan has shown just a little more in the scoring column, which makes Wilbekin a probable out.
Furkan Aldemir – If anyone is sweating it out this weekend, it’s power forward Aldemir. Having put up just one good performance in the preseason where he notched 12 points and 14 rebounds last week in a loss to the Wizards, he may have just lost himself what seemed to be a given roster spot heading into the preseason. His salary is guaranteed this season, but don’t be shocked if the team keeps Christian Wood over the Turkish big man with the final spot.