PHILADELPHIA — In getting off to a hot start last season, the Philadelphia 76ers had two big advantages over other teams. The first was continuity. They had made minimal changes to their roster and brought back guys who played an incredible 99 percent of their minutes from the previous season.
The second advantage was depth. The Sixers didn’t go 10 or 11-deep, but they had three or four guys coming off their bench – namely Evan Turner, Lou Williams and Thaddeus Young – who could keep the scoreboard going in the right direction. That trio was especially strong offensively, and the Sixers outscored their opponents by almost eight points per 100 possessions when the three were on the floor together.
“We had three guys coming off our bench who were capable of being starters,” Sixers coach Doug Collins said at training camp on Friday.
Turner eventually did become a starter. And that should be a permanent thing this year. The Sixers don’t have nearly the same continuity as they had last year (only 45 percent of last year’s minutes were played by guys on this year’s roster), but they should once again have little drop-off, especially offensively, when they go to their bench.
Thus far in camp, Collins has pointed to a nine-man rotation. On the perimeter, he has Jrue Holiday, Jason Richardson, Turner, Dorell Wright and Nick Young. And inside he has Andrew Bynum, Spencer Hawes, Thaddeus Young and Lavoy Allen.
“I don’t know who’s going to end up starting,” Collins said, “but at the end of the day, if you’ve got Nick Young coming off the bench, if you’ve got Dorell Wright coming off the bench, and Thad if he comes off the bench, and let’s say Lavoy comes off the bench, that’s pretty potent.”
And the Sixers’ bench could go deeper than that. Kwame Brown is a capable bench big, who ran with the first team in Bynum’s absence on Friday. Royal Ivey is a specialist, who can be used to pester opposing point guards. And rookie Arnett Moultrie has impressed in camp. He’s got an NBA-ready body and could be this year’s Lavoy Allen, a solid and skilled big man taken with a late draft pick.
“Our guys 9-14,” Collins said, “we feel confident any of those guys can get in there and play. That’s a nice feeling to have, especially to help you, if you have injuries, to be able to continue to play well.”
The injuries are already here. Bynum may miss the entire preseason with a bone bruise in his right knee. And Thaddeus Young left practice on Friday with a sprained left ankle.
In this league, you can never have too many guys who can play.