Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Sixers Are The Very Best Kind Of Bad

Not Shown: Many Moving Parts
So I've watched more of the Sixers than any sane hoop fan should, and for a team of tanking tankers, they are... more than a little compelling? Let's get into the reasons why.

> Tony Wroten. If there's ever been a more odd collection of strengths and negatives in a point guard, I don't think I've ever seen it. Imagine a homeless man's Russell Westbrook, and you've just scratched the service. Tony can drive and finish with power over centers, which is one of those things that never happened with point guards until recently. He's also a willing, if not exactly expert, defender, and has the size to be a plus rebounder.

That's the good parts. The bad? Just about everything else that basketball players are supposed to do.

He's one of the worst free throw shooters I've ever seen from a guard, and draws a lot of fouls, so that's just special. He's turnover-prone, with a shaky handle against pressure. His primary value on this team is to pile up usage numbers, and provide a handful of highlights that make your eyes widen. And if he ever got to, say, 70% from the line, and about half of the turnovers, he'd be a tremendous rotation guy on a playoff team, and a fine injury fill-in. Watching him get there, or fail utterly? Reasonably compelling, actually.

> Nerlens Noel. So far he's been as advertised -- a very raw but exciting big man prospect, all elbows and angles, who could be a powerful force for good on a winning team. He's also limited on minutes, because the team is doing what they have to do to protect their investment, coming off a big scary injury. Right now? He's a guy who gets the offense funneled through him more for development than efficiency, and is shooting in the low 40s as a result. But that head-on stone block of James Harden in the Houston game? Going to keep us warm at night, really.

> K.J. McDaniels. The closest thing on the team to a good defensive wing player, K.J. is actually shooting better than expected, and doing all of the little things that say he's going to be here a long time, and in far better days than these. What he isn't doing is getting significant minutes, because head coach Brett Brown isn't going to just hand him in a role, and he's also going to find out about a lot of other bodies. I'm not sure if he's got enough of a handle to ever be more than a 3-and-D kind of guy, but elite 3-and-D guys win championships.

> Alexey Shved. I like this guy more than any one should, because in reality, he's shooting 31% from the floor and doesn't seem like he can stay in front of his man. But in the minutes I've seen, he's just kind of nifty, with size, handle, and the ability to penetrate and get open shots for his teammates. I can see why he didn't work at all for Minnesota, in that he's basically a taller and more gangly Ricky Rubio, and I don't know if you can win with prime Rubio, let alone the sub-prime. But the fun part of Shved is that you haven't really seen this player before, and if you can't be good, you might as well be unique.

> Brandon Davis. Looking for a guy who seems actually annoyed to be 0-4, beyond maybe Brown? Check out Davis, banging his way to 11/3 in 18 minutes a game of I'm looking for a fight. He's got size and heart, though not nearly enough hops or muscle to be all that effective at it just yet. If the Sixers are really building something useful here, he might be a good energy guy.

> Henry Sims. Every terrible team needs a stat hole you can just hate, and for me, that's Sims. No lift, inconsistent mid-range jumper, bad handle, no big or tall enough to be good on defense, but enough of a motor to trick weak fans into thinking he can be a rotation guy. I like him better than Spencer Hawes, but I might like the ebola virus more than Hawes.

> Michael Carter-Williams. Hasn't played yet this year, but is seemingly itching to, and might have a second level from the rookie of the year stat paddery, because he says the health is actually better than last year. He's also got teammates that seem to care about winning games rather than just getting numbers, unlike last year's Evan Turner / Hawes experience. Whether he can get his jumper down to tolerable levels (a roster-wide problem, really) is the key to whether he can be more than a volume and transition guy, and if that happens... well, maybe that's the Westbrook for this club.

> The rest. I'm not sure the Sixer coaches can even keep them straight, but maybe there's a body or two here that shakes out. Don't count on it, and the shuffling will be an easy way to keep the losses coming (yes, they are tanking, not that they have to try that hard with this talent level), but if they can find some useful parts, so be it.

Add it all up, and it's an 0-for-4 team for cause, because when teams care in the fourth quarter, talent wins out. But I can see prototypes in the mist. An Ibaka-type defensive hammer in Noel, a Westbrook-ish lead guard in Carter-Williams, a Ricky Jackson trick or treat combo guard in Wroten, a Nick Collison in Davis, a less limited Bruce Bowen in McDaniels, a quasi Marco Belinelli bit of enjoyment from Shved. Maybe even a little something something for Sims, assuming some GM sees numbers out of him and thinks he's worth a damn. And all of that is before the heavy footfall of Joel Embiid or Dario Saric, the heroes on the horizon, who could put the bigs into elite level, wipe out the issues of the still can't shoot well enough wingmen. (Also, the 2015 draft pick, and maybe some more second round magic from all of the overseas spare parts. There's lots of those guys hanging around, too.)

And make those of who watched them when they were toddlers who tried real hard and got bounced when the men came in the room... happier than any Sixer fan has been since the Year Of  Iverson.

In (Sam) Hinkie We Trust.

And, well, watch. A lot more than last year, I think.


Albert Klyachko said...

Did you see the alley oop dunk by McDaniels tonight? Nuts

DMtShooter said...

Dude has real hops. A bit irritating that they were right there in crunch time, in what was a very winnable game, against a team that played last night. Should have had this one.

Ads In This Size Rule