We’ve seen several different variations of the Philadelphia 76ers rotation throughout 2021-22. Between injuries and health and safety protocols, it seemed like a new group of players were taking the floor every night. Now, for this home stretch of the regular season, the Sixers are in full force.
Given the plethora of players available every night, Doc Rivers has decisions to make regarding his rotation. He’s never been one to have a set number of players in rotation, and we’re starting to see that again.
At the end of the day, there are only so many minutes to go around. Although Rivers isn’t shy about setting up a deep rotation, some guys still have to be on the outside to look inside. That being said, we are starting to see a quiet tournament emerge for the final rotation spots.
In recent Sixers games, Shake Milton and Furkan Korkmaz battled for playing time. Rivers provided each player with an extended opportunity to solidify their spot as the bench unit’s second guard.
Before their 125-119 victory on the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night, Rivers explained how situations like this are a good thing for teams.
“It’s healthy. It’s not bad for your team to have competition for a few minutes. It can actually be very healthy as long as the guys handle it right, and so far everyone’s doing it. did,” he said.
Given the strength of the culture the Sixers have built over the past two seasons, a minute battle like this won’t weigh down the locker room. It’s obvious that the guys on this team like to play together and want to get the best out of everyone.
From what we’ve seen in this recent streak, it’s pretty clear who Rivers should be giving more playing time to. Milton has looked a lot better than Korkmaz and should gain a few minutes because of it.
Heading into this season, Milton was someone Rivers was extremely high on. Unfortunately, injuries and COVID-19 have derailed the majority of his season. Since coming back from his back injury, the 25-year-old has shown some great flashes. In the win over the Cavs, Milton had 11 points off the bench on a stellar 4-on-6 shot.
Korkmaz turned heads when he took on backup playmaker duties in the early weeks of the season. But outside of that stretch, it’s been lackluster. His shooting remains up and down, and he’s currently in the midst of another dry spell. In the Sixers’ last five games, Korkmaz is shooting 1-of-10 from beyond the arc.
After shooting nearly 38% on three last season, Korkmaz fell to 29% on almost identical volume. As someone who came into the league as a three-point specialist, a drop of this magnitude is a bit of a concern. Korkmaz can get hot from the shot, but when he’s not knocking them down, there’s no reason for him to be on the ground.
Rivers has a choice to make, but it has already been made for him. Milton has more upside as a player and has performed better throughout this quiet competition for playing time. There’s no reason Rivers shouldn’t increase his minutes to get crucial reps in the game before the playoffs end.