A Detailed Projection of the Philadelphia 76ers 2019-20 Rotation

Brett Brown will be coaching yet another team in the 2019-20 season, but he has not seen a squad as strong as this one, heading into any season as head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers. Josh Richardson will replace Jimmy Butler in the starting lineup, and Al Horford comes in while JJ Redick leaves for New Orleans. The team may be different, but expect a consistent rotation from Brown, much like years past.

Let’s take a walk into the future and cycle through a Brett Brown rotation, using their current, projected roster. This is assuming 100 percent health, and it’ll be based off of tendencies Brett Brown has displayed through his tenure as the team’s play caller. This article isn’t leaking inside information; Brett is just a bit predictable.

The Starting Lineup

  • Center – Joel Embiid
  • Power Forward – Al Horford
  • Small Forward – Tobias Harris
  • Shooting Guard – Josh Richardson
  • Point Guard – Ben Simmons

As previously stated, the team will look different again, however this squad is strong; arguably stronger than any Sixers team entering a season in the last 30-plus years.

The Sixers sent Jimmy Butler to Miami in a sign-and-trade, which brought three-and-D specialist Josh Richardson to Philadelphia. J-Rich won’t be replacing Butler in the lineup. Instead, he’ll be taking JJ Redick’s shooting guard responsibilities. In addition, Jimmy Butler leaves a hole at small forward, which will then be filled by Tobias Harris, who slides down a position, leaving a spot at power forward for Al Horford in the starting lineup.

The First Substitution: 1st Quarter, 7:00

Note: Red means they’re vacating their position. Green means they’re substituting in, or sliding to said position on the court. Also, this will only include the first half of game action. The rotation usually looks pretty similar in the second half, and game situation plays a large role, determining who is and is not on the court in the final minutes.

  • Center – Joel Embiid Al Horford
  • Power Forward – Al Horford Tobias Harris
  • Small Forward – Tobias Harris James Ennis III
  • Shooting Guard – Josh Richardson
  • Point Guard – Ben Simmons

This is why the 76ers acquired Al Horford and paid him the big bucks. Not only is he Joel Embiid insurance, but he is going to take a load off of the big man’s shoulders. Dare I say, Horford is the load manager.

One can argue that Tobias Harris’ natural position is power forward. This first substitution allows him to slide to the four, while bringing in the energetic James Ennis III to play defense and make hustle plays.

The Second Substitution: 1st Quarter, 4:00

  • Center – Al HorfordKyle O’Quinn
  • Power Forward – Tobias HarrisMike Scott
  • Small Forward – James Ennis III
  • Shooting Guard – Josh Richardson
  • Point Guard – Ben Simmons

Al Horford can’t play every one of Joel Embiid’s relief minutes, which is why the Sixers signed Kyle O’Quinn. KOQ will not be needed for long spurts, unless Embiid or Horford are taking the night off. O’Quinn, like Horford, is another insurance policy and an experienced rotation plug. This is something Brett Brown has lacked in years past.

Also, in comes Mike Scott. Him being in the second round of substitutions doesn’t mean he’s less impactful than James Ennis III. Scott will play an important role on this teams bench, much like he did in the 2018-19 season, especially in the playoffs.

The Third Substitution: 1st Quarter, 2:00

  • Center – Kyle O’QuinnJoel Embiid
  • Power Forward – Mike Scott
  • Small Forward – James Ennis III Matisse Thybulle
  • Shooting Guard – Josh RichardsonZhaire Smith
  • Point Guard – Ben SimmonsShake Milton

This will be the lineup with the shortest leash. That’s a lot of youth out on the court at once, and Brett Brown doesn’t have TJ McConnell to lean on anymore. At first, Raul Neto could be out of (or in). This is the biggest mystery of the rotation. Does Brett go with Shake, someone who has been with the team, or Neto, someone with more NBA experience, but newer to the club?

Embiid had five minutes to rest on the bench, thus ending Kyle O’Quinn’s brief relief duty. Also, Matisse Thybulle and Zhaire Smith (I call them Zhaibulle) bring their defense, energy, and intangibles to the rotation for a burst. Their role in the rotation could be impacted by a veteran minimum free agency signing before the start of next season.

The Fourth Substitution: 2nd Quarter, 12:00

  • Center – Joel Embiid
  • Power Forward – Mike ScottAl Horford
  • Small Forward – Matisse ThybulleTobias Harris
  • Shooting Guard – Zhaire Smith
  • Point Guard – Shake Milton

To start the second quarter, some of the starters check back in. Ben Simmons and Josh Richardson are on two minutes of rest, leaving Zhaire Smith and Shake Milton in at the guard positions. Smith stays in over Thybulle, mainly due to the year of experience in or around in the NBA.

Embiid stays in at center to start the second, re-joined by Al Horford and Tobias Harris at power forward and small forward respectively. The rotation, to this point, remains fluid, but it definitely lacks some experience in the back court. Some of the young dudes will need to learn on the fly.

The Fourth Substitution: 2nd Quarter, 9:00

  • Center – Joel EmbiidAl Horford
  • Power Forward – Al HorfordTobias Harris
  • Small Forward – Tobias HarrisJames Ennis III
  • Shooting Guard – Zhaire SmithJosh Richardson
  • Point Guard – Shake MiltonBen Simmons

After five minutes of playing time, with a brief intermission, the addition of Al Horford once again allows Embiid time to rest. Horford and Harris slide to center and power forward respectively, while Ennis checks back in to play small forward. Ben Simmons and Josh Richardson, who are coming off of five minutes of rest, also check in, loading the lineup back up with four starters.

The Fifth Substitution: 2nd Quarter, 6:00

  • Center – Al HorfordKyle O’Quinn
  • Power Forward – Tobias HarrisMike Scott
  • Small Forward – James Ennis III
  • Shooting Guard – Josh RichardsonMatisse Thybulle
  • Point Guard – Ben SimmonsJosh Richardson

This substitution will give some of the starters a brief rest, heading into the final stages of the half. For a few minutes, Josh Richardson, a capable ball handler, will be given the point guard duties, while Thybulle joins him in the back court to give Simmons some rest. That perimeter defense, though.

Kyle O’Quinn also comes in to give Horford a breather, while Tobias Harris sits and Mike Scott checks back in. There is a lot of toughness and hustle in this rotation, which the city of Philadelphia will love.

The Sixth and Final Substitution: 2nd Quarter, 3:00

  • Center – Kyle O’QuinnJoel Embiid
  • Power Forward – Mike ScottAl Horford
  • Small Forward – James Ennis IIITobias Harris
  • Shooting Guard – Matisse ThybulleZhaire Smith
  • Point Guard – Josh RichardsonBen Simmons

This is the final burst of the half. Some of the starters got some rest, while Josh Richardson heads to the bench after nine straight minutes of playing action. Zhaire Smith comes in to keep the defensive spark alive at shooting guard, and Embiid, Horford, and Harris re-enter to finish the quarter off strongly.

James Ennis III gave the rotation six good minutes off the bench, which is why his re-signing was and will be so important to the 76ers. As seen in these projected lineups, the Sixers have size, strength, defense, and hustle. They also have two more roster spots available.

Players out of the rotation, who could very well crack it in the future: Raul Neto, Jonah Bolden, Norvel Pelle (two-way), and Marial Shayok (two-way).