A few days ago I wrote about the starting rotation for the Sixers. That was the easy part. This article will attempt to predict the bench contributions for the team this year.
First Two Off the Bench
Assuming the starting lineups from my previous article, http://bleacherreport.com/articles/434779-an-early-look-at-the-sixers-rotation-the-starting-five, the first two men off the bench will likely be Lou Williams and Thaddeus Young. Lou Williams will likely be the first backup at both guard spots, while Young will likely come in for Elton Brand at the power forward position. Both players will likely see minutes around what you would expect for your team's sixth man.
Williams has the potential to be a very good sixth man in this league, and I see him being a sort of Manu Ginobili-lite. He is at his best coming off the bench, providing instant energy and scoring. If he lives up to his potential, I could see him getting a few votes for the NBA sixth man of the year award, though I doubt he will win the award.
Young is an interesting case, because as I've stated in my previous article, he may have a chance to start some games at the power forward spot. Because of that, his minutes may fluctuate fairly dramatically from game to game. Young will likely get the majority of his time at the power forward spot but he may see a bit of time at small forward against certain opponents.
Best of the Rest
The next off the bench will likely be Marreese Speights. He should see most of his time at center this year, though he will get some time at power forward. This is really a deciding year for Speights, where we should see how much he will be able to contribute in the future. Will he look more like the rookie who could score at will and looked so promising, or more like the sophomore who last year was maddeningly inconsistent?
Will he be able to finally learn how to play some defense at the NBA level? He claims he is in better shape this year, and if anyone can get him to play defense, it is new coach Doug Collins. If he plays up to his abilities, he could be seeing more and more minutes as the season goes on.
Andres Nocioni is an interesting fit on this team. While he does provide some much needed toughness, he was unhappy with a decreased role in previous years. His primary position is small forward, where he would likely be the first backup to Andre Iguodala. The only problem with that is that Iguodala has one of the highest usages in the league. There aren't that many minutes to be found there, and Nocioni's secondary position isn't much better.
He can play at power forward, but there is even more of a logjam there. It is decisions like these which makes me glad that I am not the coach, just a lowly writer.
The prospects, benchwarmers, and role players
Lets start off with the prospects. There are only two to be found, Jason Smith and Jodie Meeks. Jason Smith is an interesting young seven-footer with a decent outside shot. While some fans like him a lot, he is not yet a complete ballplayer, and likely will not see that many minutes unless he steps up and surprises with his progression.
Jodie Meeks has a chance to be productive. The Sixers liked him enough to trade a second round draft pick for him last year, and he showed that he can shoot the ball well. The big question is whether he can put it all together to become a solid NBA player, and how soon he can reach his potential.
Next the benchwarmers. The benchwarmers will be Tony Battie and anybody else the team picks up before the season. Battie is a decent veteran with some playoff experience, most notably backing up Dwight Howard for the Magic. There really isn't much else to say about him.
Finally the role players, Willie Green and Jason Kapono. Why did I save these two for last? Simply because these two are the hardest to predict. Willie Green could just as easily play 8 minutes as 28.
If Evan Turner isn't ready to start at the beginning of the year, he may fill in as the starter at shooting guard. He will likely see time at the point. He could just as easily see most of his time sitting next to Coach Collins. Willie Green is one of those guys that every good team needs, a player that will do whatever is asked of him, a veteran presence that can start if necessary or come off the bench.
Jason Kapono is even harder to predict. When he is in the game, everybody knows its for one thing and one thing only: spread the floor. He has a killer three point shot, but the question with Kapono is how often can he find the floor? The challenge for Coach Collins is to get Kapono enough time to keep his shot sharp, but not play him to the point where the other team can exploit him on defense.