Welcome to the latest edition of "Small Sample Size Theatre" - a far-too-early look inside the numbers as the Philadelphia 76ers have essentially completed 1/8th of the 2015-16 campaign. Their record after 10 games is the same as it was last season (0-10), but the cast of characters has changed quite a bit since then. And when it comes to that cast of characters, the performances of many have been surprising, to say the least...
Nik Stauskas: 10.8 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 2.4 APG, 33.0 FG%, 28.1 3PT%
Stauskas is averaging 10.8 points per game this year, but he's needed 11.1 shots per game to get to that mark. Thing is: He's getting every opportunity to seize the starting shooting guard role, and many of the looks he's had this year have been clean/open. Maybe he's rushing things, or maybe the Sixers need to make a more concerted effort to get him easier shots: He's 5-for-11 this season on corner 3s (45.4 percent), but just 13-for-53 on 3s above the break (24.5 percent).
Brown benched Stauskas at the start of the second half of Saturday's game in favor of Isaiah Canaan, so the former Michigan star is aware that he's officially on notice. In his defense, Stauskas has been fairly adept with the ball in his hands this season, showing that he's more than just a spot-up shooter.
T.J. McConnell: 5.9 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 7.0 APG, 1.2 SPG, 29.2 MPG
What to make of T.J. McConnell? He's ninth in the league in assists, he rebounds well for his size/position, his assist-to-turnover ratio is nearly 3-to-1, and he's shown that he's capable of knocking down an open shot (47.5 FG%).
(On an unrelated note, he also hasn't attempted a single free throw this season in 292 minutes which is pretty remarkable/strange.)
McConnell is typically outclassed on defense, but that's largely due to the fact that he's miscast as a starter. The former Arizona point guard will see his minutes cut significantly once Kendall Marshall and Tony Wroten are added to the rotation, but McConnell has proven (so far, at least) that he's a capable backup in this league.
Isaiah Canaan: 10.7 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 1.8 APG, 33.3 FG%, 39.0 3PT%
Liberty Ballers co-managing editor Sean O'Connor put it best when he said that Canaan "has been like box score fine" this season.
Canaan has scored 17 points or more in four contests this season, including three times where he started the game on the bench. Canaan's performance in those six other games? Don't ask.
During last night's tilt against the San Antonio Spurs, color analyst Alaa Abdelnaby was dead-on when he noted that Canaan is best when he can operate without needing to think and/or do too much. This season, Canaan is shooting 44.4 percent from beyond the arc in catch-and-shoot situations, and 42.1 percent from three when he doesn't put the ball on the deck to take a dribble. I don't know if Canaan will ever shoot a league-average mark from the floor (he has a sparkling 37.3 career FG%), but he's a player who can be an effective scorer in certain situations.
Nerlens Noel: 11.5 PPG, 9.0 RPG, 1.4 BPG, 1.8 SPG, 3.3 TPG, 39.6 FG%
Nerlens Noel is not a natural power forward (offensively, at least), but we kind of sort of already knew that. That's not to say that the Noel/Okafor tandem can't ever be effective, but it's clear that both need to iron out a few things before they evolve into Tim Duncan/David Robinson 2.0.
More than anything, Noel needs to prove that he's a threat from outside of 10 feet. He's still fine around the basket (57.4 FG% on shots five feet and in), but anything other than that is a crap shoot. I'll say this for Noel: He appears to be more confident in his abilities when he has the ball in his hands, but that's been both a blessing and a curse as his turnover rate has ballooned significantly this season.
Jahlil Okafor: 19.2 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 1.8 BPG, 47.4 FG%
Let's get this out of the way before going any further: Jahlil Okafor - despite his mildly impressive 1.8 blocks per game - is not a good defender. And while his rebounding numbers/percentages are OK, they aren't commensurate with a 6-11, 275-pound center who plays 34 minutes per game.
Now for the good: Okafor has been everything as advertised on offense (and maybe even a little more). Brett Brown said last week that Okafor "can score 20 points in his sleep", and the 19-year-old rookie hasn't done much to diminish his coach's faith in him. We all knew that Okafor had exceptional "feetwork", but in virtually every game this season (with the exception of that abysmal performance against Oklahoma City), Okafor has had a few Vine-quality moments where he squared up against a defender and dribbled/spun/contorted his way to an easy basket.
Nothing for nothing, Big Jah has even knocked down a few 12-14 foot jumpers for good measure. And to top it all off, he's shooting roughly 62 percent from the free throw line, which is a marked improvement over his performance at the charity stripe while at Duke. But then there's this...
Sixers Off. Rating with Jahlil Okafor on-court: 89.0
Sixers Off. Rating with Jahlil Okafor off-court: 99.4
Sixers Def. Rating with Jahlil Okafor on-court: 110.0
Sixers Def. Rating with Jahlil Okafor off-court: 96.0
Clearly, this means that Okafor is a liability on both ends of the floor and should never play a minute for the Sixers. Oh... that #hottake has already been used? Never mind then.