I think part of the problem for me is something that is made more apparent by how well Jahlil has performed; his surrounding cast outside Nerlens is doing his development a disservice. Had Big Jah been a work in progress, it might not sting as much that the rest of the Sixers aren’t near his level but since he and Nerlens have played so well and have for the majority of the season kept the team in the game, it becomes blatantly apparent in a close game with 5 minutes left that the rest of the team is holding back these two bigs from anything beyond individual success. Make no mistake, individual success is great but when it’s the only success being achieved it can lead to it being the only success that is being strived for. I’m beginning to surmise that the Sixers handicapping themselves with only fringe and untapped potential players may end up being a problem. In the first couple years of the rebuild I understand that the team would look bad because they had to be dismantled to be rebuilt, but year three has been equally bad. Something needs to be said for that.
This team is so gawwwddamn lucky that TJ McConnell has been the excellent distributor that he has been. McConnell could not be playing any better than he is now unless he finds the Monstars’ talent infused basketball or came in contact with some other performance enhancing magical potion. He’s single handedly given this Sixers team some much needed open looks on a team that outside of Okafor is devoid of people who can create their own shot. Keep in mind this is a guy who almost no one thought would make the roster.
As I said earlier Nerlens is a guy who has shown much improvement this season but he’s not the guy who you can put in an iso and tell him to have at it. He needs to be working off of someone like Jahlil or be set up by someone like TJ. The majority of the rest of his points come off of his hustle. Since TJ started asserting himself in the first of the two Cleveland games, Nerlens scored 14, 17, and 18 all on 50% or better shooting, something he struggled with in his rookie year. This is no fluke. Nerlens excelled once Ish Smith, a pass first point guard, took over for Michael Carter Williams.
Similarly Jahlil will play better when he has someone who can get him the ball in position rather than have to leave that position to make the pass easier on the point guard. It’s something that has to be taught through being rewarded. You get good position on that low block, I’ll make sure to get you the rock. Unfortunately, Isaiah Canaan is incapable of making his teammates better. It’s just not his game.
This team takes its time when it comes to injuries of their star players, that much is clear but do they do that with their lesser players too? Tony Wroten was banged up much of last year and was brought back before he was ready, the result: torn ACL. Robert Covington injured his knee in the final preseason game, came back to the court before expected and reaggravated that same knee injury. It seems possible that the Sixers aren’t taking their time with these players because they do not see them the same as corner stone players like Nerlens and Joel (duh Leo). Because they’re still good players who can put points up for this team, they let them play earlier than they should and because of this they get reinjured. Perhaps they’re letting these players get back on the court too soon because they are already so in need of scoring and so thin on the bench. They’re the type of players whose scoring can keep the Sixers competent without being sure fire future Sixers players and because of this the players get back on the court too soon because they have something to prove.
I believe that both Wroten and Covington could play for this team once we are competing in the playoffs, albeit most likely in reduced roles. Why then were they rushed back? Because without them, the Sixers have a higher probability of getting blown out which is demoralizing to the team and fanbase.
The Sixers want to be bad, but they do want their 1st round investments to get better. They want to lose games but they don’t want to get blown out. They want veteran leadership but refuse to pay money for it and expect draft picks in return for taking on these same veterans. As a franchise they walk a fine line.
I could be wrong about the Sixers injuries, they could have been unavoidable but even if they weren’t the team could have easily brought in one or two veteran players for minimum contracts that could help the development of these young Sixers players. Like I said before, the Sixers better thank the Lord or at least the flying spaghetti monster that TJ turned out to be a more solid point guard than they could have ever dreamed, when they could have easily signed Steve Blake for chump change. Even signing an over the hill shooting guard like Brandon Rush, would at least keep Stauskas from shooting 29% from three due to having to jack close to 8 and a half threes per game on what eventually become tired legs.
The Sixers will be a better team once Wroten, Marshall, Covington, and Landry become healthy unfortunately the team hasn’t said anything about when Wroten, Marshall or Landry will be back. For now all I can do is try to refrain from writing angry articles filled with conspiracies like this one and try focus on whatever successes are achieved, even if they are only individual successes in a team sport.
Oh also, take the Raptors -10 since we’ll be without Noel.
That being said, LETS GO SIXERSSSSS (please go somewhere)
By: Leo Porth
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