Brett Brown: Markelle Fultz will start in regular season opener

Getty Images
4 Comments

Philadelphia coach Brett Brown did something unusual in the team’s final preseason game Monday (in Shenzhen China against Dallas). As he has throughout the preseason, Markelle Fultz started the game with J.J. Redick coming off the bench. However, in the second half it was Redick starting and Fultz came off the bench.

That was because of Fultz’s four fouls, right?

Wrong. And this change in starters for each half could continue into the season, as reported by Noah Levick of NBC Sports Philadelphia.

“It didn’t have anything to do with Markelle being in foul trouble,” Brown told reporters. “Part of my responsibility is to be able to put these guys in environments with different combinations and try to figure that out as quickly as I’m able.

“I believe that Markelle is at his best with the ball, and so when you watch how I substitute and determine patterns, when you bring him off the bench in the second half you’re able to get him like four or five more minutes as a point guard. I believe it’s something that we’ll continue to look at. Again, it was done for that reason.”

So, why not do that same thing in the first half?

Brown is still experimenting with his semi-positionless lineups (“semi” because Joel Embiid‘s position is pretty clear). With Fultz on the court, Simmons acts more as a true forward, a four really, and even posted up a little. The challenge becomes spacing: While Embiid can hit a three the Sixers don’t want him living on the perimeter, Simmons does not have a reliable jump shot, and while Fultz’s jumper is improved he’s not taking a lot of them (none on Monday) and teams are going to make him prove he can shoot it before they respect it. Put three non-shooters on the floor and things get clogged up fast. Redick opens up that spacing.

It’s an interesting experiment in Philly, we will see how long it lasts.