With more than half of the preseason already in the rearview mirror, the time for fringe roster players to earn a spot is running thin. We check in on the progress guys are making at three different position battles.
T.J. McConnell: Two games played, 6.5 PPG on 50% shooting, 5.0 APG, 3.5 RPG, 2.5 SPG, in 20.3 MPG.
Scottie Wilbekin: Three games played, 6.0 PPG on 38.9% shooting, 2.0 APG, .67 RPG, .67 SPG, in 16.1 MPG.
Pierre Jackson: Did not play first three games (groin injury).
It's been a complete role reversal for Scottie Wilbekin and T.J. McConnell from summer league to preseason action. After Wilbekin starred in Las Vegas, it's beginning to look like McConnell may have the lead in the reserve point guard battle. While the Pittsburgh native hasn't been incredible by any means, McConnell looks much more comfortable running the point than Wilbekin, who has seen a good portion of his time playing off ball. Philadelphia's looking for more of a facilitator than a shooter, and if McConnell does anything well, it's dish the ball out.
Defensively, I think Wilbekin has been uncharacteristically bad. He's getting eaten alive on every pick-and-roll, and I've yet to see him play the same stifling on ball defense he showcased at summer league. McConnell on the other hand has gotten involved in attacking the defensive boards, and has made some real quality hustle plays.
Pierre Jackson is slated to return Friday against the Wizards, but he's certainly behind the eight ball. He'll have to show off the same smart passing and perimeter shooting abilities he did at Baylor if he wants to have any shot at making the team.
Jordan McRae: Four games played, 8.0 PPG on 36.0% shooting, 2.0 APG, 1.5 RPG, 1.0 SPG, in 18.9 MPG.
J.P. Tokoto: Two games played, 4.0 PPG on 57.1% shooting, in 5.3 MPG.
Both were a real long shot to make the roster, and neither have done much to help their cause. McRae has looked a little more comfortable shooting the ball than he did in summer league, but it's far from anything efficient. His game is still too reliant on playing iso-ball, and his moves just aren't good enough to make it work in an NBA offense. Hopefully Philadelphia can designate him as an affiliated player and coax him into playing for Delaware, because there are some skills worth trying to hone. But he's certainly not deserving of a roster spot right now.
The fact that Tokoto can't even get on the floor in meaningless preseason games is a pretty good sign that the coaches simply think he's way too raw to get playing time.
Philadelphia could very well keep a third shooting guard behind Hollis Thompson and Nik Stauskas, but I'd give the nod to Wilbekin over these two.
Christian Wood: Four games played, 6.5 PPG on 50% shooting, 4.25 RPG, .5 BPG, in 12.1 MPG.
Carl Landry: Has not played, recovering from wrist surgery.
Furkan Aldemir: Four games played, 2.5 PPG on 42.9% shooting, 4.0 RPG, in 16.3 MPG.
For whatever reasons Christian Wood went un-drafted, it certainly doesn't seem to be affecting his play in the preseason. He played sparingly in the first three preseason games, but Monday night against the Knicks was his coming out party. He was tenacious on the boards, ran the floor well, and capped his great evening with a drive and dunk over Derrick Williams. Wood's played just 49 minutes over four games, but in terms of efficiency, there's not much more you can ask from him. His play has made it clear he's deserving of a roster spot, and if he doesn't, it won't be because of a lack of talent.
Philadelphia has made it seem like they may keep Carl Landry around, but it hopefully won't come at the expense of Wood. Whatever production or trade value Landry can bring, it certainly won't be close to Wood, a first-round talent on an un-drafted player's contract.
If someone has to go, maybe it should be Furkan Aldemir. Tom Moore talked about it in his column Wednesday:
Aldemir, a native of Turkey, is a hard worker and good teammate whose biggest strength is his rebounding. But he is a below-average athlete and not much of a scorer, which hinders his effectiveness in an uptempo offensive system and a defensive scheme that relies heavily upon interior switching.
Even if Aldemir develops an offensive game, it's hard to trust a guy with 15-20 minutes a game when he racks up an average of 6.4 fouls per-36 minutes. But I think Philadelphia is interested in seeing this experiment through for at least one more season before they consider cutting ties, leaving Landry the odd man out.
In: Wood, Aldemir