|Deliver Us From Oak|
Perhaps the only really good news in the wake of the Sixers' idiotic trade of Nerlens Noel? The fact that it's opened up playing time for benchie Richaun Holmes, who is showing signs of being more useful than the 3rd pick in last year's draft.
This can seem like overstating the case, especially in light of Jahlil Oakafor's big game in New York on Saturday night... but the plain and simple fact is that the only thing that happens when Oak goes for numbers is that you break even at his position, rather than just bleed points and boards.
And I know, kicking Oak when he's Oak seems pointless, especially now that we are past the trading deadline, and he's going to be taking up minutes whenever injury-prone Patronus Joel Embiid isn't around. (Speaking of which, it would be really nice if Joel ever came back. Some of us would like to get back to watching the most fun bad team ever, which is what this club was in January. That was such a better month than this one, for many reasons.)
But let's get back to Holmes, who basically plays like, well, a poor man's Noel. Our man basically gives you 7 and 4 in 16 minutes a game, with nearly a full block, and with the kind of eye-opening jumping and positive energy that makes you just root for the guy. Which means he gets more boards in less minutes than the guy that needs to go, shoots for a better percentage (mostly because he's a dunk machine, though Holmes is also not hopeless from the arc... again, better than Oak), and just has microcosm moments.
In tonight's good effort / no hope stay in the picture loss to the Warriors (don't be fooled by the relatively close score: Stephen Curry couldn't put it in the ocean tonight, and if he has his ordinary game, this is a blowout), Oakafor gave you 4 and 3 with the team's worst plus/minus rating, in one of those sellout games where people make decisions about whether a guy has heart or not. Holmes, on the other hand, had 15/4 and the team's best plus/minus, plus a chasedown block that made national highlight reels. Advantage, second round pick from the Age of Hinkie, rather than the guy that the owners made our martyr GM take instead of Kristin Porzingis. (Yeah, I'm going full conspiracy now. Might as well.)
Oh, and if you are looking for another reason to talk crap about the team's Not Hinkie GM? Justin Anderson, the wing guy that they got for Noel, and the player that apologists are talking up as the guy that will make the trade all work out? 7/4 with 3 fouls in 10 minutes, third-worst plus/minus, and looked like he had absolutely no clue what he was doing out there.
Oh well. 20+ games left in the regular season, no Ben Simmons, probably not nearly enough Embiid. Holmes my man, feel free to own these last six weeks...