Philadelphia 76ers: Which Guards Will Start?

Mar 23, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Milwaukee Bucks guard Jerryd Bayless (19) dribbles against Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving (2) in the second quarter at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 23, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Milwaukee Bucks guard Jerryd Bayless (19) dribbles against Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving (2) in the second quarter at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports /

The Philadelphia 76ers have drafted their point forward of the future, but who will be the guards that surround him?

The Philadelphia 76ers may very well be on the hunt for another guard to better complement rookie forward Ben Simmons. The team currently has some decent options as the roster stands now, and the Philadelphia 76ers could sort through it’s current assets to find solid starting guards.

The first think to look at are the options the Philadelphia 76ers have at their disposal. Hollis Thompson, Kendall Marshall, Nik Stauskas, and T.J. McConnell are all slated to return to fight for guard spots as newcomers in draftee Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and free agent signings Jerryd Bayless, Sergio Rodriguez, and Gerald Henderson could all fill voids to the team’s major weaknesses.

Kendall Marshall will most likely not start the season with the Philadelphia 76ers, after a disappointing stint last season. Nik Stauskas may have found himself on the roster bubble, after two very bad Summer League games, and an up-and-down year last season. Although both still may make the roster, it’s more plausible to predict that they will not be the starting guards to start the season.

The way to sort through who can work in this offense is who will pair up nicely to Ben Simmons on both sides of the ball. Simmons’ passing ability couldn’t be overstated, and what the Philadelphia 76ers must do is put two guards on the floor that can position themselves to get open for outside shots. Assuming the Philadelphia 76ers continue to place Simmons as a point forward from the 4 position, it’s safe to say that Robert Covington will continue his role as the team’s small forward. 

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Covington’s outside shooting will make it possible for the team to sacrifice some outside shooting ability at the guard position. This will allow Gerald Henderson to come in and fill that starting shooting guard role. Henderson can hit the open three but is inconsistent from the outside. He would be a slight upgrade on defense from Hollis Thompson and big upgrade from Nik Stauskas.

Henderson will most likely win the job, with rookie Luwawu-Cabarrot following close behind. Henderson and Luwawu-Cabarrot both are very good at working off the ball and finding lanes to the basket, and their length will cause opponents problems. What gives Henderson the nod is experience. Luwawu-Cabarrot will be given the opportunity to ease in to the NBA and adjust to the speed of the game.

Hollis Thompson could be another option that allows the team to spread the floor even more. Next to Robert Covington, Thompson as an outside threat will give Ben Simmons all the room he wants to work with. This will stretch defenses thin and any roster that bolsters two traditional big men in their starting lineup will struggle to stay in front of this Philadelphia 76ers roster.

Simmons as the “power forward” alone brings problems to defenses, but adding Covington and Thompson next to him will force the opponent’s hand in match-ups. That being said, Thompson is a streaky shooter that can ultimately affect the flow of the offense depending on if he could hit shots or not. Starting Henderson seems to be the most viable option, which affects the decision of starting “point guard” although Ben Simmons will be doing a lot of the facilitating.

Sergio Rodriguez brings great transition ball-handling to the team, as well as some decent spacing with his improved shooting. Rodriguez, however, hasn’t played in the NBA in a decade and although he played for one of the top teams in the second best league in the world, there’s still a gap in talent level. Rodriguez can bring energy on both sides of the ball, which is why he’d make a great 2nd unit guard to start the season.

T.J. McConnell has had some Summer League experience playing with Ben Simmons, but that won’t be enough to send him upward on the depth chart. McConnell’s main role is a facilitator without much scoring ability, which is why he could work in a two-point guard system off the bench with more of a shooter next to him.

This leaves the team with its first signee in Jerryd Bayless. Bayless is by no-means a franchise changer, but after a hot season with the Milwaukee Bucks last year next to Giannis Antetokounmpo, could become a nice piece next to Ben Simmons. Antetokounmpo and Simmons have eerily similar playing styles, although Antetokounmpo has more of a scoring instinct, which is why Bayless’ success will continue next to the Philadelphia 76ers’ top pick.

Bayless’ outlier shooting performance will have to continue for him to hold ground as the team’s starter, but his spot in the starting 5 seems pretty certain.

To start the season, the money should be on Bayless and Henderson to start the season, but the coach Brett Brown will certainly be able to experiment with different lineups considering the team won’t be competing barring any surprise run.

Next: Sixers Must Still Bolster Perimeter Defense

The guard positions will be interesting to follow, as it hinges on the play and role of Ben Simmons. The Philadelphia 76ers have options from which they can choose, now the question is whether they can choose wisely.