The NBA’s regular-season begins tomorrow, December 22nd.
The Sixers play their first game on Wednesday, December 23rd, just two days from now.
After a short preseason, we were able to learn some things about how this team will look and what roles players will have.
After those two preseason wins there are still some important questions that remain.
Is Ben Simmons Truly Unavailable in Harden Trade Talks?
It was recently reported by Shams Charania, Ramona Shelburne, and Adrian Wojnarowski that Philadelphia was making Ben Simmons available in trade talks with the Rockets for James Harden.
The Philadelphia 76ers have made Ben Simmons available in some packages with the Houston Rockets for James Harden, sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium. Conversations aren't fluid as of now.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) December 17, 2020
This was news to everyone in Philadelphia and stirred the pot a little bit before Charania provided a tidbit from Daryl Morey himself. This came just over an hour after the initial report of Ben Simmons being made available.
In response, 76ers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey tells @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium: “We are not trading Ben Simmons — he is an important part of our future.” https://t.co/W6T7HQjjoP
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) December 18, 2020
Seeing Morey definitively put out a statement about Ben Simmons shows that it’s likely Houston trying to drive up the price of Harden by putting out rumors of Ben Simmons availability. The 76ers have nothing to gain by leaking information as to who is available in whatever talks the two organizations have had in regards to James Harden.
If the NBA wasn’t constantly surprising us with major shake-ups across the league, the rumors of Simmons for Harden would basically be put to a halt after Morey’s public statement. But in this league, words mean very little, and typically where there’s smoke there is also fire. While it was reassuring to hear our President of Basketball Ops confirm that Ben Simmons is not getting traded, there are still questions as to how true that really is moving forward.
How Big of a Role Will Matisse Thybulle Have?
If the two preseason games showed us anything at all, it was that Matisse Thybulle seems to have an uphill battle to big rotation minutes. In the first preseason game, Thybulle played 10 minutes and registered 0 points, 1 rebound, 0 assists, 0 blocks, and 0 steals. He only attempted one shot and didn’t cause as much havoc defensively as we were used to seeing last season. In the second game, Thybulle played 14 minutes and registered 1 point, 1 rebound, 2 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks.
Though it’s just two preseason games, Thybulle really didn’t show anything on the offensive end and might be working his way back slowly from an ankle injury. Doc Rivers stated that they will be taking their time with Thybulle to start the season. It seems likely that Thybulle may not have a big role in the rotation to start the year, but what will his role be as the season progresses?
Will Shake Milton Play His Way into the Starting Lineup?
Shake Milton showed out in the two preseason games for the Sixers. Coming off the bench, he put up 19 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists in the first game against Boston. In the second game, he put up 15 points, 3 rebounds, and 5 assists. Milton was very clearly the most encouraging player to watch throughout the short preseason, seeming very comfortable shooting off the catch and the dribble. His handle also looks to be a little tighter, making him a viable lead ball-handler for stretches of games.
At the moment, Shake is a perfect 6th man for this team. But what happens if Seth Curry or Danny Green aren’t living up to the shooting expectations or don’t provide enough defensively?
By the end of the season, Shake Milton may very well force his way into that starting lineup and earn around 30 minutes per night.
An exciting season lies ahead for our Philadelphia 76ers. Not everything about this team is known after just two preseason games, but that’s alright. There’s a real sense of optimism and focus from the team heading into the first game against the Wizards.
It will certainly be exciting to watch this team play throughout the year and answer these questions along the way.
Featured Image: Mitchell Leff/Getty Images