As a basketball fan there's no better feeling than watching your team hit a game-winner, but when every win hurts your team's chances of landing a sure-fire prospect like John Wall, you find yourself rooting against it -- at least I did. When Rodney Carney's wide open three rimmed out at the buzzer, the die-hard Sixers fan on my left shoulder removed his halo, slouched his shoulders and shed a tear or two. But on my right shoulder, the little John Wall -- equipped with horns and a pitchfork -- jumped for joy, and I was right there with him.
Recently I've found myself asking one question after every Sixers game -- as fans, are we overvaluing our team's assets? I'm becoming convinced that the answer is yes. Either that or I just expect too much, too soon from our young guys. I do know this however; the New York Knicks are a better basketball team than the Philadelphia 76ers right now. For the most part, I thought the coaching was a wash tonight, so we cannot blame the coach who will not be named for this loss. Whether or not that answers my question about overvaluing our team's assets... well I'll leave that for you guys to figure out, because I don't have the answer.
For the rest of my recap I'm going to start a new trend for myself. Instead of griping over the Sixers suckiness or breaking down the game itself, I'm going to focus on five players -- five players who must develop in order for the Sixers to ever be relevant again. The five are: Lou, Jrue, Andre, Thad and M16. Their specific development -- or lack thereof -- will make up of 90 percent of my recaps until either a) we get a new coach or b) the team goes on an incredible playoff run. And you and I both know neither is probable, despite my gut-feeling that we'll sneak into the playoffs and ruin any chances of a coaching change or John Wall.
Lou was pretty bad tonight. He was 1-7 from the floor, led the team in turnovers and never got into a rhythm on offense. He's a perfect example of my least favorite type of basketball player. He does one thing well and that's score. And scoring is the least consistent skill in the NBA. Some nights it's there, some nights it's not. Unlike skills like rebounding and defense -- which rely mostly on effort and want-to -- most players can't score consistently unless they're a superstar like LeBron or Kobe. So what does Lou bring to the table when he can't find his offense? Nothing, absolutely nothing. Despite his team-leading +4 in the +/- category (which I think is a totally bogus stat) Lou wasn't good tonight. It's not surprising that his minutes are dwindling.
Unlike Lou, Jrue can contribute in many ways. But before I get to tonight's performance I want to warn my fellow Sixers fans. Put the anointing oil away. I'm a big fan of Jrue Holiday, but he has a long way to go. I've already seen people pencil him in for numerous All-Star games. Others seem positive he's going to be a top 5 or 10 point guard in the league. Some have even claimed they'd rather have him than John Wall, which is completely stupid. He very well may live up to the hype -- I'm rooting for it, obviously -- but I don't want us to have a repeat of Thaddeus Young. People anointed Thaddeus Young way too early and now he's considered a disappointment. Let Jrue develop on his own time. Hope for the best, but don't be so sure he's going to be a superstar. This brings me back to my 'overvaluing assets' question. Every Cowboys fan thought Julius Jones was the second coming after his rookie year. Look how that turned out. As for tonight's game, Jrue was basically the anti-Lou Williams. He had a breakout night offensively, shooting 3-5 from the floor and scoring 8 points. But since he can contribute in other ways, he doesn't live or die with the jumper, and shooting nights like tonight are just gravy. Jrue ran the offense better than any other "point" on the roster, defended the ball as good as anyone on the roster, and rebounded well. I couldn't be happier with his development thus far, but the anointing oil is still on the shelf.
Much like Jrue, Andre contributes in many ways. He had a terrible shooting night but still managed to limit league-leading Danilo Gallinari to one three-pointer, drop 8 dimes and grab 5 rebounds. There's not much more you can say about Andre. He's the older, bigger version of Jrue with a more polished offensive game, as hard as that is to believe.
Ugh. I'm so disgusted with Thad. If Jrue is the smaller version of Andre than Lou is the smaller version of Thad. Thad had yet another poor performance tonight. He shot 3-13 from the field and played little to no defense. He doesn't excel in any phase of the game, and I'm not sure how much better he's going to get. Does anyone care to make an argument against the premise that Thad sucks and he's going to continue to suck? Oh yeah? There's a comment section below.
My boy M16! He almost single-handedly won the game tonight. He's the only player on the current roster who I believe can succeed as the featured player in an NBA offense. He showed why tonight, scoring 10 points in 8 minutes down the stretch. He had the whole arsenal working -- jumpers, dribble-drives and post-ups. If not for a Knicks triple-team he woulvd've probably hit the game-winner tonight. I also love the way he's being handled. He has to earn every minute. Everyone knows he can score, but earlier this season he was forcing shots and playing zero defense. Tonight his defense still sucked, but the effort was there on the glass and he took smart shots.