The injury bug is hitting the Philadelphia 76ers hard. Their roster may resemble their D-League affiliate the Delaware 87ers. Two Sevens players look ready to fill the Sixers needs.
They are shot-blocking Greek small forward Thanasis Antetokounmpo and former Temple University standout Dustin Salisbery. Both players would be immediate upgrades on the defensive end over three-quarters of the Sixers’ roster.
The Sixers rank last in the league in points allowed and are sixth overall in points per game. They have plenty offensive power, they just lack defense. Both Antetokounmpo and Salisbery can be an inexpensive and efficient answer to the Sixers problems on “D”. They’d be perfect candidates for Sixers GM Sam Hinkie’s cost-cutting analytics approach to acquiring players.
Antetokounmpo is a shot-blocker who is perfect for a second unit featuring Daniel Orton, Lavoy Allen, Tony Wroten and Hollis Thompson. Starting center Spencer Hawes is the Sixers lone shot-blocker on their active roster. Hawes is the only one averaging over a block per game (1.71 per game).
The Sixers would use Antetokounmpo strictly for an interior presence as a shot-blocker considering they’re among the leaders in rebounds as well. He’s in the D-League’s top ten in blocked shots averaging 2.5 blocks per game. Though those are minor league stats, blocks are still tough to fill the stat sheet especially from a 6-foot-7 small forward.
Salisbery is another face the Sixers are familiar with. The 6-foot-5 shooting guard starred at Temple where he was one of the last recruits to play under Basketball Hall of Fame and former Temple head coach John Chaney. Salisbery is a defensive stopper with a jump shot. He is a scorer and among the D-League leaders in steals.
Salisbery averages 2.75 steals per game and 13.3 points per game while shooting over 47 percent from the field for the Sevens. He’d relieve minutes for starting point guard Michael Carter-Williams, who has had his share of injuries this season.
The Sixers will need an answer for all their injuries, because otherwise players like Carter-Williams have a higher risk of suffering career-threatening injuries.