Everyone in Philadelphia expect Andrew Bynum, Evan Turner and Jrue Holiday to step up their games this season. For the first team, Bynum is the man for his NBA team while Turner and Holiday get a dominant big man to make their lives that much easier. All three players should see their numbers increase as they try and help the Sixers compete for an Atlantic Division title. But what about the rest of the team?
Role players are essential to any contender. Sooner or later the stars are going to either have an off night or get too many double and triple teams to be able to wins games by themself. You need role players to defend key players, get clutch rebounds and hit the big shots. What good is having a big man that commands double teams if no one can take advantage of the open shots.
The first role player I see stepping up is Dorell Wright. Wright was acquired through a trade with Golden State. I don’t see him as a starter, but more as the sixth man of this team. His ability to hit open shots, grab a couple rebounds and help stretch the floor as a four in smaller lineups makes him a valuable player coming off the bench.
Wright averaged over 16 points during the 2010-2011 season and just over 10 point per game last season. He became expendable in Golden State with the depth they had at the wing spots, but is a perfect fit in Philly. He should see more open looks from beyond the arc than he every has in his eight year NBA career.
Another role player I see stepping up is one of the more unpopular players on this team. Spencer Hawes signed a two-year deal this summer to come back and play for the Sixers. At the time he was expected to start next to Kwame Brown. I can see why Sixers fans were less than enthused by the signing. Now with the addition of Bynum, he has a much lesser role.
Hawes is not a player you want holding down the starting center role for your basketball team. He isn’t a banger and he isn’t a good rebounder. He is a good passer from the top of the key and he can hit the mid-range jumper with regularity. I like him as a starting power forward who becomes the fifth scoring option. His lack of physicality aren’t an issue anymore as he takes on a completely different role.
Defenses should lay off him quite a bit this season which should lead to an increase in assists and possibly points, depending on his minutes.
The final role player I expect to have a big year with the Sixers is Thaddeus Young. Young is another player like Hawes who greatly benefits from Bynum. He doesn’t rebound the well either, but he is a solid defender and a great athlete. He can guard the 3s and 4s and be apart of a lot of smaller lineups at the power forward spot or in bigger lineups playing as a small forward.
If you check out his profile on CBS Sports, you will see him listed as a PF on the depth chart, but he is listed as a SF on his player page. He is so versatile at the forward spot the experts can’t agree on what to list him as. He is outstanding in the transition game which helped him average over 8 points in the conference semis last season against Boston, including 22 points in Game 3. His defense, athleticism and versatility make him a solid weapon coming off the bench.
These three players along with Jason Richardson, Lavoy Allen and Nick Young and the rest of the bunch form a pretty solid supporting cast. There is serious depth on the roster that should help this team make the jump from borderline playoff team to serious contender in the Eastern Conference.