THE BENCH IS IN

The 76ers for the past few years always had one of Joel Embiid or Ben Simmons on the court at all times. And one reason was the bench just wasn’t good enough. Anchoring one of the two young stars to non-starters was a way to balance the weak bench. This season may be a different story.

Doc Rivers led off today’s post-practice media availability and got into discussing the reserves. Doc had said previously, for the season he wants to go about 10 deep. when asked today about who the five reserves would be, he said he definitely knows four, and has a good sense of the fifth but would not commit to who they were. Rivers said about the fifth spot that shooting and defense were important, but also being able to run as a team, and said they may need more size.

From prior post conferences with Rivers, he has spoken highly of Furkan, who was also one of the first off the bench Tuesday night, and of course, Shake and Howard will be bench pieces. Leaving guys like Mike Scott, Matisse Thybulle, and Tyrese Maxey as possible candidates for the fourth and fifth spot.

One thing Doc did make it clear that there will be times, especially early on, where there will be all five bench players on the court together. Rivers said the team needs to be able to play both with and without them, and it is a point of emphasis in practice.

Going along with the bench theme of the day, Rivers was followed by Howard and Korkmaz. Dwight once again spoke very highly of his fellow bench mates Shake Milton and Tyrese Maxey. He praised Shake for being disciplined out the pick and roll and even called him a super scorer.

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Korkmaz talked about his role with the second unit, saying that he will be a playmaker and shooter. He mentioned he is becoming comfortable and says the team is doing a great job but thinks they need to play together more.

I was able to ask Dwight Howard what he saw in Tyrese Maxey during his first minutes in an NBA game. Here is what he had to say:

Dwight followed up again with praise of Maxey’s work ethic, eagerness to learn, and willingness to speak up and ask questions.

For the first time in recent memory, the Sixers are heading into the season with a bench that can be a positive rather than one that works against them. Shake and Dwight seemed to have really developed a connection in the first preseason game, and if Maxey continues to learn and make strides he can really prove to be a key piece for the unit, even if he isn’t in the rotation to begin the season. Depth can prove to be really important. finally, the team has a legit backup rim protector and a potential “super scorer” in Shake Milton coming off the bench, and that should scare the league a little.

One thing to note, Rivers was asked about Joel Embiid’s minutes, seeing how Joel played much longer in quarter one the other night than we would be used to with Brett. Rivers said he just wanted to “blow everyone’s lungs out”, but said that it would most likely not be the case all the time going forward. He cited that it is a lot of minutes but they know Joel can do it. He went on to explain that there is a plan for every player, including Joel, when it comes to minutes and sport science,and they will try to stick to the plan best they can.

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