Philadelphia 76ers guards Ish Smith and TJ McConnell could be jockeying for late season minutes.
When Ish Smith arrived, the Sixers had only won one game, and the season looked incredibly dismal. In his first game for the Philadelphia 76ers after a trade with New Orleans that sent two second round draft picks to the Pelicans, Ish went 6-of-15 and had five assists in a win versus the Phoenix Suns.
Noel was very adamant about retaining Ish in free agency this year, saying during the All-Star weekend that “he has to come back. He has to. He’s an important piece to this and why we are playing so well these past couple of months.”
“He has to come back. He has to. He’s an important piece to this and why we are playing so well these past couple of months.”
I wouldn’t go as far to say that the Philadelphia 76ers were playing “so well,” but there were visible improvements from the never ending nightmare that is watching the Philadelphia 76ers play basketball. Eight of the Sixers’ nine wins so far have come in the Smith era, but his play has plateaued and even turned into a detriment to the team since his arrival.
His main pitfall is the amount of shots he takes. He takes an inordinate amount of shots, some very ridiculous ones, and most of the time they don’t go in. Some of his more notable stats being going 3-of-19 vs. the Lakers, 8-of-28 vs. the Knicks, 3-of-12 vs. the Celtics, 7-of-24 vs. the Clippers, 2-of-15 vs. the Pacers, and 1-of-9 vs. the Nuggets.
The Sixer Sense
2-of-15 (!!!!!) vs. the Pacers. They ended up losing the game by 16 points. Ish’s ineffectiveness shooting is the common denominator to many games that the Sixers could have been competitive in, but ended up blowing. He tries to put the team on his back and make miraculous shots, but in doing so only digs a deeper hole to try to climb out of.
TJ McConnell, on the other hand, has shown continuous improvement throughout the season. The undrafted rookie has gone above and beyond to solidify a roster spot on the Sixers. Now, he deserves a chance to start in place of the struggling Ish Smith.
The point guard out of Arizona shoots an impressive 51% from two, and 34% from three, garnering a solid 48% field goal percentage, which is above the league average. TJ ranks second in the league in assists for rookies, behind only Emmanuel Mudiay. Ranking first in the league in steals for rookies, McConnell has proven he is not only a formidable force offensively, but defensively as well.
TJ McConnell’s specialty is dribbling through a crowd to his spot, and nailing the jumper. He is an incredibly effective scorer, and doesn’t waste any shots or try to force anything thats not there.
With only 10 games left in the season, the Philadelphia 76ers might as well allow TJ McConnell to get some quality starters minutes. The experience would be nothing but beneficial to his growth and development, and he very well could give the team the spark needed to close out the season on a positive note.