After Al Horford came off the bench Tuesday for the first time since 2007, NBC Sports Philadelphia's Paul Hudrick and Noah Levick ask: Who should be the Sixers’ fifth starter?
With the way Brett Brown had been talking over the past week or so, it seemed like a change to the starting five was coming. Horford’s fit in the starting lineup has been clunky and the 33-year-old hasn’t been able to space the floor like GM Elton Brand hoped (32.7 percent from three).
In the first game of what could be a permanent change, Brown elected to go with Furkan Korkmaz, who was coming off back-to-back 30-point performances. Korkmaz had earned the opportunity, but if Horford comes off the bench for good, the guy I’d like to see start is Glenn Robinson III.
Robinson started the second half against the Clippers and was solid on both ends. His movement without the ball and ability from three makes him an ideal fit offensively. His ability to move his feet and be switchable on the perimeter makes the Sixers’ starting unit more dynamic defensively.
Korkmaz and Alec Burks seem like better options as instant offense off the bench. Rookie Matisse Thybulle could also be an option, but Robinson has proven to be a more reliable shooter.
Thybulle is one possibility. The Sixers are 8-2 when he starts, a stat that catches one’s attention. Of course, that’s not a huge sample size, and there are other factors to consider. Thybulle has shot the ball poorly as a starter — 9 of 40 from three-point range — and been a negative offensively overall. When Thybulle has started, lineups with him have a 78 offensive rating. The idea of him guarding top offensive threats is appealing, but he doesn’t have to start to be given opportunities to do that.
Korkmaz has shown he can explode off the bench. There’s no need to start him and compromise your defense at the beginning of the game.
Burks seems best suited to being a spark for the second unit.
I’d also lean toward Robinson, who started 48 games this year with the Warriors. Steve Kerr often trusted Robinson to guard the opposition’s best player. Though Kerr didn’t have many great options for that job, Robinson appears capable of handling most starting-caliber NBA wings defensively. He also does his best work off the ball — curling around screens, cutting, sprinting to the corners in transition — which should fit well on the Sixers next to Ben Simmons.
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