Philadelphia 76ers: Ennis and Scott are perfect reserve forwards

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

With Joel Embiid and Boban Marjanovic out, the Philadelphia 76ers have struck gold on the reserve forward pairing of Mike Scott and James Ennis.

Brett Brown has finally figured it out.

After experimenting with lineup after lineup in a feverish attempt to establish a winning formula for the Philadelphia 76ers, it looks like Brown has finally settled on a rotation that can defeat even the best teams in the league.

Need proof? Look no further than the Sixers’ 108-104 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

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In a game without both Joel Embiid and Boban Marjanovic, the Sixers thoroughly torched OKC  and their top-ranked defense, even if they were also a bit undermanned due to a Paul George shoulder injury.

On paper, the matchup looked awful, and you (I) would be forgiven for assuming that the 76ers’ motley crew of Amir Johnson and Jonah Bolden would get manhandled by Steven Adams in the paint, but they weren’t.

They actually thrived.

Though Adams did record an 11 and 14 double-double, he was largely an afterthought in his 32 minutes of action, as Bolden was able to feast on the wings to the tune of 14 points in 20 minutes while knocking down 66 percent of his 3 point attempts (2-3).

But really, the team wouldn’t have won without the dynamic duo of Mike Scott and James Ennis.

In 37 minutes of action, Ennis and Scott combined for 13 points, six rebounds, two blocks and three 3s (all of which were made by Scott). Sure, these numbers aren’t particularly impressive in the grand scheme of things, as Tobias Harris had almost three times as many points (32), one less rebound (five) and the same number of blocks in only three more minutes of action (40), but after fielding one of the worst benches in the entire league, receiving consistent production from the reserves has to be considered a major boon.

Ennis’ production specifically, though again externally eye-popping, was a major improvement over the production the team received from Jonathon Simmons over the last few games.

As initially highlighted here, Ennis is a better shooter, scorer, and defender than Simmons, who currently holds the (dis)honor of being the worst offensive shooting guard in the league (and fourth worst overall).  Ennis also has experience playing in a scheme that shares some similarities with the 76ers’ own: Mike D’Antoni‘s Houston Rockets.

Granted, Brown’s style doesn’t exactly mirror his former associate head coach, as he relies much less on iso ball, the pick and roll and in general runs a far less scheme-y scheme, but the Sixers do almost exclusively run their offense almost exclusively through their stars, and need role players who are willing to happily play their role without causing a fuss.

Ennis is that kind of player to a T, and really, so is Scott.

Both are swing forwards capable of switching off on defense and waiting in the wings for an open 3 on offense, and in the modern 3-and-D NBA that’s incredibly valuable. Both players are also versatile enough to play alongside the likes of Ben Simmons, Jimmy Butler, and Harris.

In this new era of positionless basketball, having low usage players like Ennis and Scott who stand right around 6-foot-7 on manageable contracts is a surefire formula to win games.

(Jonathon) Simmons, on the other hand, is another bad shooter on a team desperate for auxiliary shooters, and even if he does bring solid defense to the table (though again his defense isn’t as good as Ennis’), he’s effectively a net negative every time he’s on the court.

Next. James Ennis needs to play over Jonathon Simmons. dark

Sure, the Philadelphia 76ers could still really, really use a player like Landry Shamet, a combo guard coming off the bench with a deadly outside shot, but after shuffling his bench aimlessly, it looks like Brett Brown has finally settled on a rotation that has the potential to get even better once Boban Marjanovic and Joel Embiid return to full strength and properly supplement the team’s stars, as opposed to taking the ball out of their hands.