The Sixers have officially survived 10 days in the Orlando bubble and their first week of mid-season training camp. Here are my biggest takeaways from the team's first week back on the court:
Starting lineup change?
The biggest news out of Sixers training camp (though not necessarily surprising) is that Shake Milton has been practicing as the starting point guard, alongside Tobias Harris, Josh Richardson, Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. (To backtrack, remember Brett Brown was experimenting with bringing Al Horford off the bench back in February, which lasted three games before Simmons was sidelined with a lower back injury).
Though Brown hasn’t "stamped off" on anything yet, I’d be surprised if this wasn’t the starting lineup when the Sixers' regular-season games resume on Aug. 1. From everything we hear, this unit has fared well in training camp.
Sliding Simmons to power forward for the majority of his minutes gives the Sixers a vastly different look to their offense, most notably adding more pick-and-roll options. Milton being a willing shooter should force defenders to chase over on screens, opening up possibilities for Simmons as a roll man, whether he’s finding the open guy, feeding a cutter or taking it to the rack himself.
Which leads us to the next question coming out of training camp …
What might the first group off the bench look like?
As evidenced in the playoffs last year, when the Raptors outscored the Sixers by 109 points in the 99 minutes Embiid was off the floor, the units without Embiid are crucial to the Sixers' success. On Thursday, Brown began using a lineup of Simmons, Matisse Thybulle, Harris, Furkan Korkmaz and Horford in practice, which he really likes for two reasons, both connected to the speed of the group.
First, the "versatility," "switchability" and "disruptive mentality" of the defense, which can then be a launching pad for the second strength of the group, playing fast on offense.