James Nunnally will be the 21st player to take the court for the Sixers if he plays at all while on the team during his first 10-day contract. Including players who opened the year on the Sixers roster but did not play, he'll be the 24th player on the roster during a season marked by player turnover.
Nunnally is 23, coming from the D-League with one identifiable skill from his stats page: shooting. Nunnally's shooting over 41% from three in the D-League this season. And in his brief call up with the Atlanta Hawks, he shot 2.5 threes in under 14 minutes a game. He seems to know what his role is, at the very least.
More importantly, though, his skill fits the Sixers' biggest need. Forgetting the tanking talk for a moment, the Sixers just cannot shoot. Among players currently on the roster, Byron Mullens is the leading three point shooter as a Sixer, at 43%. Mullens's career percentage is 32%. I believe the 43% is an aberration. Aside from him, Hollis Thompson at 34% is the team's leader. Per basketball-reference.com, the 2013-14 league-average percentage sits at 36%.
The Sixers' best three point shooter is worse than the league-average and only makes three attempts per 36 minutes. Which is to say, the Sixers have a spacing problem. The spacing problem helps the losing streak continue, which is good for the draft odds. It doesn't help Michael Carter-Williams or Tony Wroten's development, though, when teams constantly pack the paint and make finishing inside close to impossible.
2014 NBA Draft
Other rebuilding teams that have prioritized developing the players on the roster over the draft pick have surrounded the young guys with vets who do things the right way and space the floor. Utah starts Richard Jefferson and Marvin Williams every game. While they're nothing to write home about as players, they can each shoot and provide space for the youngsters that Utah is building its future around.
The personnel the Sixers have mostly work hard and try hard, and that's a good thing, but there's difficulty in building good habits when they largely come up with empty results. For instance: I heard on Twitter that the Sixers were shooting 28% from the one corner this year. Around the league, the corner three is the best non-open-layup shot attempt, and I thought the Sixers could not possibly be that bad at that shot. But from the left corner, the Sixers are indeed shooting 28%, and overall their corner threes are converted less than 30% of the time. I didn't think that was possible.
Nunnally, compared to D-League average, wasn't a great corner shooter either. While well above the Sixers' average, at 37-38% he's no better than NBA league-average while in the D-League. However, above the break or at the angles, he's been sensational. Per this tweet from the official D-League site, Nunnally can launch from far away.
This is why Nunnally should help. During the 20-game ongoing losing streak, the coaching staff by all accounts emphasize the process of working hard and bringing a good attitude over the team's results. This season was always about process anyway. But it can't hurt to have some people who help bring results. James Nunnally appears to be someone that can help those with his shooting.