The Philadelphia 76ers added a handful of shooting guards this offseason, and while they all should play serviceable roles, at least one is bound to play large minutes. But the one question still hovers over our heads: who?
Before we get into things, I'd just like to say that we're excluding Evan Turner from the discussion because although he can be a shooting guard, he will also have a lot of responsibilities at the 3 slot. Plus, it just makes it an easy question to answer and that's no fun.
Philadelphia acquired Dorell Wright via trade, signed Nick Young, and landed Jason Richardson in the three-team deal along with Andrew Bynum (score!).
There's no doubt that all of these guys have established their own pedigree as three point shooters. Wright led the league in three pointers made two seasons ago (194), Young has shot 38 percent for his career from three point range, and the veteran Richardson has shot nearly 40 percent from three over the last five years.
All of these guys walk into a great environment, too. Young finally has a place to settle in with the right coaching staff, Wright got out of Golden State's defensive mess, and Richardson is paired with another great center yet again.
They all fit well here, and no matter who ends up with the largest role, the Sixers will still have premier perimeter shooting.
Since their talent is virtually equal from a shooting perspective, we not only need to look at what else they offer, but where else they will be utilized first. Regardless of who is the most talented player, if they are restricted, they can't make a huge impact consistently. This is also where Wright loses his case.
Despite his size and the athleticism he brings to the table, he will most likely get the least amount of playing time of the three, assuming he'll play the majority of his time at small forward.
It's true that sometimes at the end of the day there isn't much difference between playing the 2 and the 3 because it's really subjective to the role being played. However, it plays a factor in finding an answer to this question.
It works like this: Because Young and Richardson are primarily shooting guards (based on their roles and skill-set), it forces Collins to play Wright at small forward whenever one of these guys is in the game. This becomes an obstacle for Wright because Turner and, potentially, Thaddeus Young also demand time at the position.
There simply are not that many minutes to go around, and chances are Wright will get the short end of the stick.
That leaves us with Young and Richardson. When comparing what they offer, both will serve as three-point specialists, but Young also adds a defensive advantage. At 6'7", with a seven foot wingspan, Young clearly has a size advantage against a typical 2-guard.
Plus, Young is more of a high-volume scorer and has more of an ability to shoot lights out, very similar to what Lou Williams could do for the Sixers. Richardson has this too, but it's naturally diminishing as he ages.
Which shooting guard will play the largest role?
If Young is utilized the same way Williams was, then Young's impact could be substantial, considering his role would include winning games in crunch time.
That being said, this is only Young's potential. As great as it would be if he did embrace such a role, we have to remember that with Jrue Holiday and Turner facilitating the ball and Bynum doing the dirty work down-low, it will be difficult for any other player to develop such a groove.
Hence, Richardson is really the only guy that you know what you're getting. He will be a reliable and consistent three point specialist who serves as the better complement to Turner because he doesn't demand the ball as much.
It is evident that Young has the upside and the higher ceiling, but Richardson is the safest bet almost by default because he has the least working against him. Because we don't know exactly how Young will be used, we cannot make a definitive assertion to the question.
There are some variables that make this question impossible to answer right now. All we can do is speculate because the true answer to this question will not emerge until the start of the season.