Over the weekend the Sixers officially signed Australian Ryan Broekhoff for the remainder of the season.
As the team prepares to head to Disney World next week, they inked the 29-year-old to a substitute contract. They were able to do so because they had a vacant two-way roster spot open and Broekhoff had less than three years of experience.
The question now becomes: Can Broekhoff crack the Sixers’ rotation over the course of the eight seeding games? Let’s take a closer look:
What Broekhoff brings
It’s no secret that Broekhoff’s strength is one of the Sixers’ biggest weaknesses. The team is 14th in the league in three-point percentage while being 22nd in the league in terms of attempts. If Broekhoff has done anything in his short NBA career, it’s take and make threes.
This season, he took 59 shots and 51 of them were from three. For his career, 144 of his 185 shot attempts have been from long range. It’s not just quantity either. He’s hit 40.3 percent of his threes in 59 NBA games.
Unlike last year, Brett Brown will have options off his bench this postseason.
Youngsters Matisse Thybulle, Furkan Korkmaz and Shake Milton will be fighting for minutes. As will veterans Mike Scott, Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson III. While each of those players has had their moments, none of them have performed consistently well enough to have a stranglehold on a job.
Broekhoff is most like Korkmaz. If you get him open looks, he can get hot and open things up for everyone else. He’s also not the most reliable defender and doesn’t offer much off the bounce. Even if it’s an elite skill, he’s fairly one-dimensional as a shooter.
His basketball IQ and instincts are something that can’t be overlooked and could give him an edge over a guy like Korkmaz. Broekhoff knows his role and doesn’t take bad shots or make mistakes.
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Experience and familiarity
One advantage Broekhoff has over players like Thybulle, Korkmaz and Milton is experience. Broekhoff has played professionally in Turkey and Russia. He also has international experience, representing Australia multiple times over the course of his career.
He also has an advantage in having familiarity with the head coach and team’s starting All-Star point guard.
Brown has extensive experience coaching in Australia and will be the head coach of the Boomers national team whenever international play resumes.
Though there is an age gap, Ben Simmons and Broekhoff both grew up in Melbourne, Australia. Melbourne is a big place, but the bond of being from the same part of the world can’t be totally dismissed. Simmons seemed excited about the signing.
You’d suspect that Broekhoff would get his opportunities during the eight seeding games. The Sixers play every other night and also have a back-to-back mixed in. Those eight games will answer a lot of questions for Brown as far as his rotation goes.
Will Broekhoff be a part of that?
Brown has said he’d like to get his rotation down to nine by the time the playoffs start. With the five primary starters already locked into rotational spots, that leaves four openings with seven legitimate candidates for playing time.
We see unlikely heroes emerge in the playoffs all the time. There’s a chance a couple of the team’s reserve wings struggle and Broekhoff could come in and force Brown’s hand. The lack of consistent outside shooters on the roster could open up a pathway.
But without knowledge of the team’s schemes and a lack of familiarity with his new teammates, it will be an uphill battle. If nothing else, Broekhoff is a nice insurance policy and there's no downside to the signing.
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