It’s been a wild ride, but we’re finally here.
So as the Sixers finally prepare to take the court Wednesday night, in Washington DC, in front of a national television audiance on ESPN, who will be their starting five?
Indications are that first overall pick Markelle Fultz won’t be starting at point or shooting guard. Whether it’s his recent shoulder injury, his free throw shooting woes, both, or something worse entirely, it appears the first alarm that the 6-foot-4 guard from Washington State could wind up as a bust. Or maybe he plays his way into a starting role and it’s all just heresay.
Regardless, the Sixers should contain a healthy mix of veterans and youth in their top five to open 2017-18.
Here’s our best guess as to who will be on the floor for the first jump ball.
Joel Embiid, C (7-foot-2)
If he’s healthy, he’s playing. And through two preseason games (with a gigantic $148 million extension alongwith it) Embiid will almost definitely give ESPN its wish and start the season on the floor for Philly. He is likely to be on another minutes count, somewhere in the mid 20s.
Ben Simmons, PF, PG (6-foot-10)
On defense, he’ll guard the other team’s power forward but offensively he’s the Sixers’ point guard. He kicks off his rookie campaign healthy and on no restrictions whatsoever. Expect him to be chasing a triple double each and every night.
Robert Covington, SF (6-foot-9)
Covington has turned himself into a quintessential 3-and-D player — combining some of the Sixers’ best downtown shooting with the ability to play the best defense of any Sixers’ winger. His long arms and athleticicm will be key against whoever the opposition’s best player is.
J.J. Redick, SG (6-foot-4)
At 33-years-old, he’ll be Philly’s oldest starter but perhaps the most important new arrival off the free agent wire in years. In the Sixers’ last preseason game he hit two of three three pointers and was a perfect 6-for-6 from the free throw line, scoring 18 points in 26 minutes. The Sixers will take that every night.
Jerryd Bayless, PG (6-foot-3)
With Fultz starting as the Sixers’ sixth man, and Dario Saric also a key bench player likely to get crunch time minutes, Bayless seems the obious fit to start — at least early— at point for the Sixers, sharing duties with Simmons but mostly playing off the ball.