By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)
The Sixers will play their final preseason game Thursday against the Pistons, with final cuts to follow in advance of next Wednesday’s season opener in Indiana. Before that happens, here are my predictions for who will be on the final 15-man roster come opening night. Keep in mind that the list of Sixers on the current roster will be very much a living entity throughout the season. Not only might the Sixers pick up a player or two released by other teams, but they’ll likely keep the I-95 shuttle gassed and running to bring players back and forth from the Delaware 87ers. In the land of a thousand 15-day contracts, no partially-guaranteed deal is safe. Anyway, here we go:
- Guards: Michael Carter-Williams, Tony Wroten, Alexey Shved, Jason Richardson
- Wings: Hollis Thompson, K.J. McDaniels, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute
- Big Men: Nerlens Noel, Henry Sims, Joel Embiid
Pretty easy so far. Carter-Williams, Richardson, and Embiid are the likely candidates to start the season as the three inactive players on the roster.
- Guards: Elliot Williams
- Wings: JaKarr Sampson
- Big Men: Arnett Moultrie, Brandon Davies, Jerami Grant
After showing flashes with the team last season, Williams has played well enough this preseason to almost be considered a lock to remain with the club.
Brett Brown has been outspoken of the work Sampson has done during training camp and the preseason; it looks like he may snag the final roster spot.
Moultrie may drive Coach Brown crazy jacking up 20-footers, but there’s no denying he’s in the best shape of his career and the front office finally wants to see what he can do when healthy.
Davies has been the fill-in starter at power forward during the games Nerlens Noel has sat out; his ceiling is probably the lowest of anyone on the team, but he’ll keep sticking around due to his work ethic and good clubhouse repertoire (at least until the team is really concerned about winning games).
Grant hasn’t had much of a chance to show what he can do thanks to an ankle injury, but the Sixers used an early second-round pick on him and signed him to the Sam Hinkie-special team-friendly contract. It’s highly doubtful he’s going anywhere.
Final Cuts (5)
- Guards: Casper Ware, Malcolm Lee
- Wings: Chris Johnson
- Big Men: Drew Gordon, Ronald Roberts, Jr.
Ware shot just 2-11 in the Orlando preseason game, and then only saw 9 minutes against Brooklyn. With Shved now with the team and his ability to play back-up point while MCW is out, Ware might be the very last name off the list.
A sprained ankle suffered in the game against Orlando Saturday likely eliminated the slim chance of Lee making the roster.
Gordon has done well in his opportunities during the preseason, but may just be the victim of the numbers game at the crowded power forward position.
Sadly for local college basketball fans, after a good summer, Roberts, Jr.’s quad injury looks to have derailed his chances of making the team.
Chris Johnson has been a Coach-DNP the last two preseason games; it looks like he was in a battle with JaKarr Sampson for a small forward spot and lost that contest.
Of course, I could have this list completely right by Saturday and it could all be blown up by Tuesday. Such is life as a Sixers fan these days.