Philadelphia 76ers: How will new additions impact rotation?

The Philadelphia 76ers added two new players last week in Glenn Robinson III and Alec Burks. Here’s how they fit in Philly’s rotation.

As expected, the Philadelphia 76ers didn’t do anything truly seismic leading up to the 2020 trade deadline. Their significant work was put in several months earlier, and retooling would have come with its own set of challenges.

That doesn’t mean the two additions aren’t important. Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson III, two perimeter players with offensive talent, were acquired for three second-round picks last week as the Sixers looked to fortify their bench.

Burks is more of a scorer and ball-handler, while Robinson III fits the 3-and-D wing archetype. Both fill needs for the Sixers, and both will make the team distinctly better.

One way to preview their impacts is to look at what the Sixers did to make room for them. The additions of Burks and Robinson III came at the cost of cutting Trey Burke and trading James Ennis.

This makes sense in both regards: Burks is a bigger (6’6″, 214 lbs) and better version of Burke, a scoring guard who can somewhat create for himself and others, while Robinson III does what James Ennis does (hit threes and defend) at a higher level.

Ideally Burks can take the backup point guard minutes from Ben Simmons, a spot no one on the roster has won yet. Head coach Brett Brown has given Burke, Raul Neto and Josh Richardson all some run at the 1, but no one has truly locked it down.

Burks will get several cracks at doing so, and the most likely outcome is that he wins the job. As the pick-and-roll ball-handler, Burks has operated in the 71st percentile of efficiency this season, making him already an upgrade over incumbent options. He also generates points in isolation at about a league-average clip (0.87 points per possession, 51st percentile).

The addition of Burks will make the Philadelphia 76ers more comfortable with decreasing Simmons’ minutes down the stretch as needed. Simmons has eclipsed 40 minutes in eight of the team’s last 20 contests, which should rarely happen in regulation games.

With how Simmons and Embiid are staggered, Burks will likely be handcuffed to Embiid, similar to how Richardson has been. That would put him at about 10-to-14 minutes per night. But there is also an advantage to playing him off the ball, akin to how Shake Milton has been used.

Once Richardson returns to a regular workload (around 32 minutes), expect Burks and Milton to soak up the approximately 16 minutes behind Richardson. This would put Burks anywhere between 16 and 18 total, and Milton at about 8-to-10.

Robinson got 12 minutes last night, and that figure should be close to his average. Furkan Korkmaz can’t be taken off the floor right now, and Matisse Thybulle provides a contagious defensive impact.

Another player who could see his minutes go down is Mike Scott, who is having a very disappointing season. Pushing him down to 8-10 minutes a night gives Simmons and Tobias Harris more breathing room at the 4, a reasonable outcome.

In summary, this would be everyone’s expected workload:

  • Simmons: 35
  • Richardson: 32
  • Harris: 35
  • Horford: 32
  • Embiid: 32
  • Burks: 18
  • Robinson III: 14
  • Korkmaz: 14
  • Thybulle: 14
  • Milton: 8
  • Scott: 8

Obviously these are just estimates; in just the last 14 games, Korkmaz has gotten over 20 minutes 13 times, and Thybulle has exceeded 30 minutes four times. Rotations vacillate from game to game, and that will still be true even with two stabilizing additions. Some nights, like Sunday against the Bulls, Burks may not see the court. The same could happen to anyone on the Sixers’ bench.

Is either addition going to take the Philadelphia 76ers over the top? Probably not; that onus is still on the starting five to carry out. But they’re both improvements to a team that sorely lacked offensive spark before.

Next: NBA Power Rankings: Nets charging up the middle
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