With roster at 15 players, previewing Sixers' depth chart, roles and competitions


After agreeing to a deal with Trey Burke Thursday night, the Sixers have 15 players on their active roster and their team is likely set for the 2019-20 season. 

Is this Sixers’ roster deep enough? Who might fill which roles, and where could there be competition for minutes?

Here’s an early look at the team’s depth at each position:

Point guard 

Starter: Ben Simmons

Depth: Raul Neto, Trey Burke, Shake Milton 

Analysis: Though Burke’s deal is only partially guaranteed, according to Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice, he could very well play a key role. He scored 20.2 points per 36 minutes last season and has thrived in the pick-and-roll — Burke produced 1.02 points per possession last season as a pick-and-roll ball handler with the Knicks (92nd percentile) and 0.99 points per possession on those plays with the Mavs (86th percentile), per NBA.com/Stats.

Another attractive quality Burke brings to the table is his excellent career assist-to-turnover ratio of 3.6 assists to 1.4 turnovers per game. Though the Sixers’ turnovers dropped after the trade deadline, they still finished 25th in turnovers last season. Burke could help to alleviate that longstanding concern.

Neto and Burke will likely compete for minutes. Especially given Neto’s injury history, Burke is a nice option for the Sixers to have.

As Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune points out, this actually won't be the first battle between Neto and Burke. Neto beat Burke out as a rookie for the Jazz's starting point guard spot to begin the 2015-16 season.

Milton can play both guard spots, but you assume he’d need to be highly impressive or be presented with an opportunity via injury to receive significant playing time at the point over two veterans. He struggled with his jumper in summer-league play, making just 6 of 36 shots (16.7 percent) before being sidelined by an ankle injury. 

Shooting guard 

Starter: Josh Richardson

Depth: Zhaire Smith, Matisse Thybulle, Furkan Korkmaz, Shake Milton, Marial Shayok (two-way contract)

Analysis: The Sixers lost JJ Redick, lost out on Kyle Korver and their outside shooting options at shooting guard are … not great. 

Richardson shot a tick over the league average from three-point range last year on 6.3 attempts per game and should replace a good chunk of Redick's production.

Brown has said Smith’s jumper will be “the thing that ultimately makes his package whole,” and though he’s worked extensively on his shot, the 20-year-old will need to prove it’s a reliable skill.

Thybulle looked comfortable in summer league shooting spot-up threes and made 11 of 28 shots from long range (39.3 percent). He’s aiming to show that his dip to 30.5 percent from three-point range as a senior at Washington was a random blip, not an accurate indicator of his ability as a shooter.

Korkmaz has a quick release and a pretty jumper, but he’s yet to be effective as an NBA three-point shooter, converting 32.3 percent of his threes in 62 NBA games. Smith and Thybulle are in a different class than Korkmaz defensively.

All three players could contribute during the regular season, with Smith’s specialities his on-ball defense and incredible athleticism, Thybulle’s his knack for deflections and disruption and Korkmaz’s his floor spacing and shooting. 

None of the three look like a lock for Brown’s playoff rotation, though I think Smith has the best shot. He’s shown the ability to slide with his man on the perimeter, hound smaller guards and shrug off screens. This massive Sixers team could use those skills off the bench.

Small forward 

Starter: Tobias Harris

Depth: James Ennis, Matisse Thybulle, Furkan Korkmaz 

Analysis: The 29-year-old Ennis is seven years older than the next oldest option on the 15-man roster at the wing, which tells you something about the importance of his return. Ennis and Mike Scott were the two players Brown could trust off his bench in the playoffs last season, and you’d think that will remain the case.

Power forward 

Starter: Al Horford

Depth: Mike Scott, Tobias Harris, Jonah Bolden 

Analysis: Harris can play at the four in certain lineups, and Bolden, despite some promising moments in his rookie year, appears to have an uphill battle for minutes. Other than that, there’s not much to add here — Scott is your backup power forward. 


Starter: Joel Embiid

Depth: Al Horford, Kyle O’Quinn, Jonah Bolden, Ben Simmons, Mike Scott, Norvel Pelle (two-way contract) 

Analysis: The Sixers are such a large team, it feels like half of the roster could play center. In reality, Horford will serve as Embiid’s primary backup and start at the five on load management nights for the Sixers’ All-Star center.

O’Quinn provides valuable veteran insurance, while Simmons and Scott both saw time at center in 2018-19 and could be small-ball options for Brown. 

The Sixers posted a minus-3.5 net rating with Embiid off the floor last year and a plus-7.6 net rating with him on the court. This season, there shouldn’t be such a cavernous disparity.

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