Philadelphia 76ers: T.J. McConnell has become a deceptively good scorer

(Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images)
(Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images) /

After making his name as a defensive pest, T.J. McConnell has become a deceptively good bench scorer for the Philadelphia 76ers.

Man, T.J. McConnell just keeps getting better for the Philadelphia 76ers.

Sure, he isn’t the biggest, fastest, or most athletic guard in the league, or even guard on the team, but when McConnell is firing on all cylinders, the Sixers are among the toughest outs in the entire league.

And over the past few months, McConnell has really put things together on the offensive end of the court.

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Initially sidelined due to the final whimpers of the Markelle Fultz-era, logging six DNPs in the month of November, McConnell has been a man on fire since taking over the small ball, backup point guard position full-time on November 21st.

While McConnell has always provided more value to a team than his Real Plus-Minus numbers would suggest, largely due to his pesky ball-hawking abilities and willingness to pick up full court, his sudden emergence as a legitimate offensive weapon has helped the 6-foot-2 undrafted free agent to really punch above his weight class as Brett Brown‘s top reserve guard.

Since the 23rd of November, McConnell is averaging the 19th most points per game (7.7), third-most assists (4.3), and most steals (1.5) of any reserve guard under 6-foot-4 in the league. He’s also knocking down 40 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc, way above his career average of 33.5.

Now granted, are these stats cherry picked? Sure, but they aren’t without merit, as it highlights McConnell’s ability to affect the game in a variety of different ways on the offensive end of the court, even if his pure scoring doesn’t hold a candle to Spencer Dinwiddie, Derrick Rose, or Lou Williams.

And really, on this new-new look Sixers’ squad, McConnell averaging 7.7 points a game should be lauded, not looked down on.

Sure, it would be nice to have a certified sixth man of the year caliber reserve like the aforementioned Nets, Timberwolves, or Clippers, but when a team’s starting five has the potential to score close to 100 on any given night, filling out the rosters with capable role players with the ability to play some D, and occasionally put up double-digit points is good enough to build around for the foreseeable future.

Just for reference, McConnell has scored in double digits 13 times this season, or about once every 3.8 games.

Furthermore, and possibly most importantly of all, McConnell’s teammates love to play with ‘The People’s Champ’.

From his pre-game dances, to his boundless enthusiasm while resting on the bench, McConnell is a spark-plug at both on and off the court, and can almost single-handedly galvanize a team into action even in the midst of a long, taxing string of games.

That is a valuable commodity even when his shots aren’t falling; fortunately for the Sixers, they’ve been falling at a fairly consistent clip over the last few months.

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So even though T.J. McConnell may never average double-digit scoring over an entire season, let alone a double-double, he has been the Philadelphia 76ers’ most consistent guard coming off the bench, and has made himself an invaluable part of the team moving forward. Pretty good timing considering this is a contract year for the fourth year guard from Pittsburgh.