Joel Embiid to start Sixers' season opener, but how much will he play?

Joel Embiid to start Sixers' season opener, but how much will he play?

WASHINGTON — The first starting lineup of the Sixers' 2017-18 season will be Ben Simmons, Jerryd Bayless, JJ Redick, Robert Covington and Joel Embiid.

Brown is sticking with the group that closed out preseason competition. That group has a balance of veterans and young talent, including Simmons making his NBA debut after missing all of last season with a foot injury.

"It helps a lot (starting together in the preseason) because you're learning guys and how they move and how they play," Simmons said. "I think we have a pretty good connection going into tonight's game and it's only going to get better."

Embiid will be under a minutes restriction but Brown does not have a definitive number. The big man previously said he expected to play 16 minutes. Embiid was the last one to leave the court at the conclusion of shootaround. 

"There's a range that we'll work with," Brown said. "We're going to feel it together. We'll play Joel within some parameters and go from that base." 

Markelle Fultz also will make his NBA debut. The No. 1 pick, who has battled right knee and shoulder soreness, will come off the bench in front of his hometown crowd. 

"I'm excited," Fultz said. "It's anything you can wish for."

Sixers 2017-18 player evaluation: Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot

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Sixers 2017-18 player evaluation: Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot

Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot

Position: Guard/Forward

Status for 2018-19: Third year of rookie deal ($1,446,360)

Luwawu-Cabarrot in 2017-18
After a strong finish to his rookie campaign, there was an opportunity for Luwawu-Cabarrot to take on a decent role this season. Unfortunately, patellar tendinitis kept the French guard from joining his national team during the summer and slowed him up in training camp.

When newcomer JJ Redick missed seven games because of back issues, TLC stepped in and actually played pretty well to start. In the first four games of that stretch, Luwawu-Cabarrot averaged 14.5 points and shot a ridiculous 15 of 26 (57 percent) from three. The next three contests didn’t go as well before Redick came back to claim his starting spot.

During the back half of the season, Luwawu-Cabarrot struggled to get minutes and also had his knee issues resurface. They lingered for the rest of the season, as the 23-year-old missed the final 17 games of the regular season and all of the playoffs.

For the season, Luwawu-Cabarrot averaged 5.8 points in 15.5 minutes a contest in 52 games (seven starts).

Signature game
During that seven-game stretch, Luwawu-Cabarrot’s best game came during a disappointing loss on the road in Memphis. The Sixers lost by four, but Luwawu-Cabarrot had one of the better games of his career, pouring in 20 points and hitting 6 of 8 from three. The six treys were a career high.

Looking ahead to 2018-19
This certainly wasn’t the season the Sixers were looking for out of Luwawu-Cabarrot after he looked so promising to close out his rookie season. Was the young Frenchman still feeling the effects of patellar tendonitis or was he simply unable to carve out a role?

He just turned 23, is a great athlete and has shown flashes with his jumper. He’s still a very cheap option for the Sixers over the next two seasons. The Sixers will need decent players with low price tags if they’re able to add a superstar. 

Luwawu-Cabarrot will get another chance to crack the Sixers’ rotation. If he falters, there will be options. Justin Anderson will be one of the players he’ll be fighting for minutes with along with fellow 2016 first-round pick Furkan Korkmaz, who had injury issues of his own. If none of those players can provide what the Sixers need, look for Bryan Colangelo to be aggressive at the trade deadline and/or with the buyout market.

On Luwawu-Cabarrot
“I’ll probably come here, fight for my role. The perfect thing would be coming off the bench, play hard, play for the team, have good minutes.”

 -Luwawu-Cabarrot on his expectations for next season

Sixers 2017-18 player evaluation: JJ Redick

Sixers 2017-18 player evaluation: JJ Redick

JJ Redick

Position: Shooting guard

Status for 2018-19: Unrestricted free agent

Redick in 2017-18
It’s OK to admit it now. When you first heard how much the Sixers were giving Redick on the free-agent market last summer, you were a bit alarmed. 

Sure, Redick was always going to be a valuable addition, and the fact that a big-time player chose to join the Sixers was a huge feather in their cap. But paying him $23 million — the sixth-highest mark among NBA two guards in 2017-18 and the 25th-largest sum in the entire league — is a huge investment, even if it was for only one season.

However, the Sixers made it clear that they were finally ready to contend, and getting the best possible fit in free agency was a top priority. In Redick’s case, his game meshed with the Sixers like a glove.

The 33-year-old had arguably his best season as a pro. Redick scored a career-high 17.1 points per game on 46.0 percent shooting from the field and 42.0 percent from three. He also contributed 3.0 assists a night and a personal-best 2.5 boards.

Redick, an up-and-down playoff performer to this point in his career, made the most of his postseason stint with the Sixers. He upped his scoring average to 18.2 points a contest and topped the 20-point plateau in five of the team’s 10 playoff games.

Of course, Redick’s defensive deficiencies showed at times throughout the season, but his dead-eye shooting from long range and veteran leadership more than made up for those issues.

Signature game
Redick had plenty of highlights to choose from this past season. In just his eighth game with the team, he went bonkers from beyond the arc late in a 121-110 win over the Indiana Pacers. Redick finished that night with 31 points (eight three-pointers), six assists and three rebounds.

The marksman also contributed another eight-trey performance in a 130-111 victory over his former team, the Orlando Magic, on Nov. 25.

Still, Redick’s best showing of the season came when it mattered most. With the Sixers threatening to advance in the playoffs for the first time in six seasons, he took things into his own hands as he scored a game-high 27 in the team’s series-sealing win over the Miami Heat in Game 5. Not to be denied, the typical jump shooter got to the free throw line 10 times and made each of them to propel the Sixers into the next round.

Looking ahead
You know the situation by now. Redick has stated several times that he wants to be back in Philadelphia, but it’s much more complicated than a simple desire.

First, the Sixers plan to go superstar-hunting in the offseason with the main target being LeBron James. That would almost certainly mean Redick would be shown the door. To his credit, Redick admitted that if a team has the chance to land James, it has to take that opportunity (see story).

Secondly, even if the Sixers swing and miss on James, the numbers to get Redick back in a Sixers uniform could be tricky. He will certainly be looking for a multi-year deal and his numbers suggest he deserves one, but how many years and how many millions are the franchise willing to give a shooting guard who will be 34 when next season tips off?

On Redick
“I don’t want to offend any of the other places I’ve been or teams I’ve been on, but this was probably my favorite year of my career. Playing in Philly is its own experience. Our fans, the city, the buzz about sports and about this team was amazing. I think I said this on media day, it’s the first time I’ll ever play in a real sports town. That definitely lived up to those thoughts. It was awesome to play in Philly.”

- Redick on his experience playing in Philadelphia