Kelly Oubre is slated to return to the Sixers lineup within the week after suffering severe injuries from a car accident after his hot start with the team. A lot has changed since Oubre has been away from the team, with the most noticeable difference being that James Harden is no longer a part of the team and there are all these new pieces. Nicolas Batum, Robert Covington, and Marcus Morris have all found themselves getting consistent minutes since the Harden trade, but that was without Oubre ever sharing the court with them, which leaves room for some roster adjustments. Will Oubre find his way back to the starting lineup? Who will be sacrificing minutes? How does this change the teams identity and playing style?
Expected Lineup Adjustments
Kelly Oubre got off to an unbelievable start with the Sixers, averaging over 20 points per game and finding his way into the starting lineup by his last several game before the injury. He immediately showed an ability to provide the Sixers with much needed scoring and even found good chemistry with Maxey and Embiid in a limited amount of time, but should he expect to come back as a starter? Most likely not. Nicolas Batum has been playing great in Oubre’s absence and has been great as a spot up shooter and defender in the starting lineup. Batum brings more playmaking while needing less shots, which leaves Oubre to fill the sixth man role.
This is actually the role that Oubre was signed to fill and the role that Nick Nurse initially envisioned for him at the beginning of the year. The Sixers are in dire need of consistent scoring off the bench and Oubre can really play freely in that role. That does not mean Oubre won’t play a lot of minutes or will be benched during the fourth quarter, but it will change his role back to being that aggressive scorer off the bench.
Who Will Sacrifice Minutes?
The most likely candidate to have their minutes reduced now that Oubre is back is Marcus Morris. As much as we all love a Philly native playing for the team, he is the easiest option to move to the end of the bench at this point in his career. Oubre, Batum, and Covington will get the majority of minutes going forward with Marcus Morris and Danuel House really taking the backseat going forward.
The Sixers will be a dangerous defensive team with those wings being able to guard multiple positions and providing great shooting for the transition opportunities that the defense will create. Getting Oubre back on the court is massive for this teams championship hopes and would expect to see the Sixers start rattling off wins again like they were earlier in the season. The Sixers may be the deepest team in the East with Oubre’s return and barring any more major injuries, the Sixers should expect to be in the top three seeds of the Eastern Conference again this year with a chance to compete for a championship in the playoffs.