The Sixers season has had ups, downs and a lot of What the….’s. Contrary to the nationwide belief that the team is a bunch of misfit toys that have no business being on an NBA floor, there are some legitimate players on this team. I’m not holding my breath for the playoffs this year, but hey, it could be worse.
** Stats may vary due to games in the course of writing this**
Ish Smith- Words do not describe what Ishmael has done for the Sixers. He’s given them life. He’s put fluidity into the offense. He jumpstarted Nerlens Noel’s performance. And above all he’s given them an edge, that has made them watchable and competitive. Ish Smith you’re my hero.
TJ McConnell- TJ was just trying to catch on in the league and now he is a reliable backup. He was undrafted and picked up by the Sixers to play in the summer league and he hasn’t looked back since. He’s averaging 6 ppg, 4.9 apg, and 3.7 rpg. What TJ lacks in size he makes up for in effort and hustle. He loves picking up his man full court, and is always diving for loose balls. TJ has established himself as a true NBA player for years to come.
Kendall Marshall-Marshall was unavailable until 12/11 due to injury and has really underwhelmed. Brett Brown went on record saying the starting PG spot was his to lose and he lost it. After the victory in Phoenix, he has only played 8 minutes in a Sixers win. Those 8 minutes came in garbage time during a blowout win over Portland. He not only lost the starter role, but he can’t even see competitive minutes anymore. I would really like to see him traded or demoted to the D-League. Might as well try to find a diamond in the rough, instead of a nomad lottery pick that can’t even find time on a nightly basis.
Hollis Thompson- I hope I’m not in the minority when I say I genuinely like Hollis Thompson. He’s a capable defender and has a shot that defenses need to respect. He has nice size for the two-guard spot and is the most consistent shooting guard on the team in all phases of the game. He may not be around for the long term, but he has a place in the league.
Isiah Canaan- Isiah Canaan is Jekyll and Hyde offensively. He’s either dropping bombs from beyond the arc or he’s chucking up bricks and killing the flow and rhythm of the offense. Defensively he consistently struggles. It has kept him off the floor more often than his spotty offense. He’s 6’0 and is usually giving up half a foot to his opposition. Isiah Canaan is either really frustrating or really entertaining, too much of the first one for me.
JaKarr Sampson- JaKarr Sampson continues to idle in his progression. He is a solid defender with great size and athleticism, but still doesn’t have a true offensive identity. He’s hit 6 three-pointers all season, rarely takes mid-range shots, and gets decent shots from short distance, but isn’t the best finisher. Sampson’s best production offensively is when he gets in transition.
Maybe if he grows his hair out again things will improve.
Nik Stauskas- Nik Stauskas started out the year shooting dismally from the field. He was missing WIDE OPEN looks from deep and had a tough time finding any offensive rhythm. Fast forward to January and shooting nearly 50% from downtown for the month. If Stauskas can maintain his performances in the New Year he could be a key role player in the future of this team.
Robert Covington- Big Shot Bob has once again been a key piece in the “success” of the Sixers. He receives a lot of focus from opposing defenses and spaces the floor with his range and ability to drive to the basket. He has also done his fair share of work on the defensive end this season. His 6’9 frame gives him the length to guard multiple positions effectively. His cold streak of about 10 games really hurt the team’s production, but apart from that he’s been a big-time contributor.
Jerami Grant- I knew I liked Grant last year, and this year my opinion of him has not wavered. Grant is a long, rangy, explosive athlete. He is a vicious dunker with a strong ability finishing at the rim. Above all else is his defensive ability. Grant’s size makes him an able defender from the perimeter and down low. He is an outstanding shot blocker. He is averaging 1.6 blocks per outing, making him 14th in the league (He’s only 6’8). All of the players above him are at least 2 inches taller than him. The only player shorter than Grant in the top 40 among blocks per game is Draymond Green, who has more versatility than a Swiss Army Knife. Grant can be counted on, night in and night out to play with an infectious energy that defines his style of play.
Carl Landry- Landry was unable to play until the 23rd of December, but has notched double digit scoring five times. He is shooting 57% thus far and can space the floor with his shooting ability. Lately he has seen a decline in minutes, but his minutes have been well played.
Richaun Holmes- Richaun Holmes has turned out to be an awesome surprise. There wasn’t much buzz surrounding him as a draft pick, but Holmes has made a splash. He is always crashing the offensive glass, collecting 41 offensive rebounds this year. He has a decent jumpshot, but his biggest offensive contribution comes at the rim, whether that be finishing second chance points or throwing down violent dunks. Holmes came out of nowhere and will only improve.
Elton Brand- I have a lot of respect for this man. He tried latching on to playoff teams like Dallas and Atlanta, unsuccessfully chasing the elusive championship ring. Instead Brand is basically a coach wearing a uniform. He was not on a team and decided to join a roster that isn’t designed to win more than 20 games. He’ll be 37 in March, which makes him the elder statesman. He’s basically the uncle of a team that’s barely able to drink legally (Except Jahlil). He hasn’t logged a single minute of action yet, but his numbers won’t define his season.
Nerlens Noel- “The Nerlen Wall” as dubbed by Alaa Abdelnaby, is putting up another stellar season defensively. He’s averaging 1.6 blocks and 1.6 steals per contest. Top 15 in blocks and top 25 in steals is impressive for a 6’11 center. He has the size and athleticism to guard nearly any player on the floor when rotating on defense. Other than being a defensive anchor, Noel has improved on offense since the return of Ish Smith. Out of the 16 games that Ish has played, Noel has failed to hit double digits in only 5 games. His field goal percentage is also nearly 53%. He’s been hitting the glass hard as well, snagging 8 boards per outing. He has been settling for post up moves less, and is getting plenty of good looks at the rim. Noel’s game has been a massive factor in the success of the team.
Jahlil Okafor- Jah’s production is as expected. He has been threat in the post since his debut and hasn’t looked back. He’s dropping 17 ppg and collecting 7 rpg. He has an array of post moves, not mention his isolation ability when being guarded by another center. His jumpshot is also a weapon defenses can’t afford to sleep on. His rebounding is pretty hit-or-miss, considering he’s 6’11. Okafor’s biggest need for improvement is on the defensive end. One-on-one in the post he is a passable defender, but he struggles rotating on defense and closing out on shooters. His 92 turnovers is also a number I’d like to see shrink. But any negatives said about Okafor should be with a grain of salt, considering he’s only 20 years old.