I went on record saying the worst of the tank is over. I was TOTALLY wrong. If you believe in karma the Sixers and their fans have an astronomical amount (hopefully) coming their way. I’m already counting down to the lottery, but in the meantime here are the 2016 Sixers and whether or not they should (or could) return.
TJ McConnell– TJ came out of nowhere and really found himself a niche in the league. He plays a very intelligent brand of basketball. TJ became more comfortable scoring the ball as the season progressed. He’s tough as nails and backs down from nobody. Even if the Sixers acquire a legitimate starting point guard and bring back Ish Smith as the backup, TJ would be a quality reserve point guard who could step in and fill the role required.
Isiah Canaan– Canaan began the year playing the point guard position and was basically demoted to shooting guard. He could not provide the floor general qualities necessary to run the offense. Canaan running the offense resulted ,with an offense that had the flow of wet cement. And don’t get me started on his defense. Canaan does have a NBA role in being strictly a 3-point specialist that would play less than 10 minutes a game on a properly constructed team. Canaan could be a Sixer next season if he receives and accepts a qualifying offer for his expiring contract. I think the Sixers could get a little bit of value for him in a trade, but nothing spectacular.
I don’t care how it happens, but Isiah Canaan should not a part of this team moving forward.
Kendall Marshall– Marshall has a 4-year contract, but none of those years are guaranteed past this year. He’s done nothing to warrant a return on a young team looking to breakout during the course of the offseason.
Ish Smith- As I have previously stated, Ish Smith’s acquisition finally made the offense capable of maintaining a rhythm, among many basketball clichés. Ish’s playmaking ability is outstanding, but his shot selection can be questionable and his defense is mediocre at best. Ish can electrify the team just as easily as he can hinder it. He is a backup caliber point guard in the NBA.
Verdict: Stay… for the right price, he is an unrestricted free agent
Hollis Thompson- Hollis Thompson is in his 3rd NBA season and has been a legitimate contributor in all of them. He averaged nearly 10 ppg and is a serviceable defender on a team with horrible perimeter defense. He’s a total bargain considering he’s and undrafted free agent from Georgetown. Hollis has a team option for next season that would cost just over $1 million. I could see the Sixers picking up his option just to throw him in a trade package, just as easily as I could see him returning to the team. He has value in the NBA.
Verdict: Stay … but don’t be surprised if he’s not
Nik Stauskas– The Canadian shooting guard started out pretty slow, but as the season went on he started showing signs of potential. He has shown the ability to handle the ball and find open teammates, attack the basket, and hit the 3-pointer. Stauskas needs to figure out how to play consistently to maximize his potential. His shaky start should not be a reason for him not to return. Thank goodness he can play offense, because his defense is not up to par.
Jerami Grant– Grant is an absolute steal. He was a second round pick, but is showing signs of being one of the best defenders in the NBA. He is an explosive athlete, who excels at blocking shots. He averaged 1.6 blocks per game . He may only be 6’8 but he plays much bigger. Offensively, Grant is still a work in progress. He is a thunderous dunker and a solid finisher around the rim. If Grant can become a decent 3-point shooter, he’ll be the ultimate rotation player. He shoots around 25% from deep and if he can get that number around 40% he’ll be around Philadelphia for a long time. There’s a slim chance he goes anywhere. Go find an interview when Brett Brown talks about Grant. Coach Brown gushes over him like, Ralphie’s dad with the leg lamp in Christmas Story.
Verdict: I’d be stunned if he doesn’t play in Philly … Stay !
Robert Covington- Covington put up another productive season. He’s still a great 3-point shooter and has developed his ability to drive to the basket. Defensively, his length and effort makes him a very versatile defender. Covington produces on both ends of the floor. Covington is on a low-paying contract, but is producing above his pay-grade. Covington has value in the league and could very well be a tradable asset, but for Big Shot Rob to be dealt the return would have to be very worthwhile. Robert Covington is a shining example of the process.
Carl Landry- The 32-year old veteran had 9.8 ppg and 4.1 ppg this season. Landry is a great shooter from 10 feet and out. He took 13 3’s and made 6. Landry still has value around the league as a backup power forward. The biggest issue in moving Landry would be finding someone willing to absorb his $6.5 million contract. It could be done, but it would take a well-built playoff caliber team to bite on Landry for frontcourt depth.
Landry is in the same boat as Hollis Thompson. Chances of coming back are about 50/50.
Verdict: Stay… for now
Christian Wood– Call me in two years after he spends more time in the D-League. Not worthy of a roster spot.
Richaun Holmes- Much like Jerami Grant, Richaun Holmes was a nice find in the second round. Holmes has the size to play power forward or center at 6’9 245 lbs., but his leaping ability is what gives him the potential to be a key rotational player. Holmes is a great finisher around the basket and loves to throw down dunks, especially after offensive rebounds. If Holmes can develop a well-rounded offensive game and continue to adjust defensively, he’ll have a long and productive career.
There’s going to be a logjam in the frontcourt especially if the Sixers end up with Ben Simmons. Holmes is worthy of another season with the Sixers, but he could very well be dealt for a wing player or end up in a trade package.
Elton Brand– Brand will most likely retire, after deciding to spend a season with one of the worst teams in recent memory. I have so much respect for Elton Brand for deciding to play one more year just for the sake of being a mentor. Not the most glamourous way to ride into the sunset, but not everyone can have the fairy tale ending.
Jahlil Okafor– So here’s where thing get interesting…
I really can’t imagine a plausible scenario where Embiid, Noel, and Okafor all make the opening day roster for the Sixers. In other words, the Sixers will need to decide between Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel.
Jahlil Okafor is a throwback center. He has a post game that hasn’t been seen in a young player in years. He faces up to the basket, he has a fantastic spin move, can finish with either hand among many others.
His exceptional basketball abilities stop on the offensive end. Jahlil Okafor is mediocre at pretty much everything else. His 124 turnovers are way to many for a center. He struggles passing out of double teams and doesn’t have the necessary court vision to efficiently pass out of the post. His rebounding is average for someone his height (6’11 and 7 rpg).
Jahlil’s most glaring weakness is his defense. Don’t just take my word for it. Check this out. Jahlil Okafor may be 20 years old , but there so many holes in his game for someone to be considered a franchise building block. Jahlil would be best suited as a secondary scoring option with a point guard or wing player as the primary scorer. Okafor can be too easily taken out of the game by double teams and his effort on defense is inconsistent.
Jahlil Okafor is not a bad basketball player, but one that cannot be a franchise centerpiece at this point in time. He has a legit value in the trade market that could get some much needed talent/picks that could seriously benefit the team in the long run.
Nerlens Noel- So if you couldn’t tell already I’m #TeamNerlens. Nerlens Noel would be recognized around the league as a top-notch defender if he wasn’t on a bad team. Noel has a rare blend of size, speed, and athleticism. Not many centers can step out on the wing and lock down smaller players. Noel recorded 118 steals and 100 blocks on the season. This is the second straight year he has over 100 steals and blocks. To put that in perspective Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson, and Andrei Kirilenko all had at least 100 steals and blocks in their first two years (Hakeem had 99 steals his first year, but still). Nerlens Noel is on his way to being an elite defender.
Noel offensive game is essentially limited to dunks and shots inside 5 feet, but he’ll most likely never become a legitimate offensive weapon. Noel is also an effective rebounder, who averaged 8.1 rpg.
Noel’s game is based on energy and hustle and until those aspects go away I want Nerlens on the Sixers. There is no doubt a market for Noel, but between Noel and Okafor, I’m choosing Noel to be a part of this team moving forward.