Philadelphia 76ers: Peak Raul Neto could create problems

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

If Raul Neto can continue to play like he did against the Golden State Warriors, it could make the Philadelphia 76ers even more deadly moving forward.

There are a slew of ways to describe Philadelphia 76ers reserve point guard Raul Neto, a floor general, a primary ball-handler, a pass-first point guard, but through the first four and a half years of his NBA career, a scorer is not one of them.

Despite having played in 257 NBA games – 237 in the regular season and 20 postseason contests with the Utah Jazz – Neto has only surpassed 10 points in a game 27 times, and 20 points once all the way back in 2017-18.

If you need buckets off the bench, Neto can help, but more reliably as a facilitator than a Trey Burkian spark plug.

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But when Neto goes off, as he did in the Sixers’ 24th home win of the season against the Golden State Warriors, boy is it a sight to see.

Measuring in at an even 6-foot-tall, Neto looks a lot like South Philly’s favorite pint-sized point guard T.J. McConnell but plays the game with a modern flair typically reserved for European transplants.

For whatever reason, he just doesn’t like to score – which is weird, because he’s actually pretty effective at doing it.

On his career, Neto has only taken an average of four shots a game from the field, but he’s hit them at a 44.6 percent clip – 48.3 percent from two-point range and 38.3 percent from beyond the arc.

Heck, in 2019-20, his fifth professional season, Neto is actually off to his most efficient year as a pro, shooting 46.5 percent from the field, 42.0 percent from 3, and 78.6 percent from the line in 11 minutes of action a night.

Call it a fortunate byproduct of being a selective shot taker, but for Neto, efficiency is not an issue, it’s volume.

Will Neto’s numbers remain consistent with an uptick in attempts? Maybe, maybe not, but with an extended chance to shine in the first half against the Warriors, a decision actually suggested by Ben Simmons, Neto took shot after shot, and they went in roughly half of the time.

If Neto can keep that up and even just double his average attempts and points a game, boy howdy could the Sixers become even more of a problem.

While one could argue that it ultimately doesn’t matter who wins the Sixers’ backup point guard contest, as Brett Brown may opt to use Josh Richardson as his second-string ball-handler when rotations shrink in the postseason, if history is of any indication, this team often rides the hot hand.

Need proof? Look no further than Furkan Korkmaz, who started the season as an afterthought and now is locked in as the team’s top offensive option coming off the bench.

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If Raul Neto continues to play well, as opposed to his historical precedent of reverting back to the mean, the Philadelphia 76ers may have stumbled upon yet another piece who can contribute in the playoffs alongside Matisse Thybulle and Furkan Korkmaz in an eight-man rotation both alongside Ben Simmons or in place of him. While some will forever prefer Trey Burke, which is cool, don’t forget that Elton Brand actually signed Neto first because of his presumed fit in Brett Brown’s scheme.