It takes a special set of circumstances for a 1-24 team to be compelling. For as poor as they are, I still find myself tuning in night in and out hoping to see something better than last. The whole "Process" era is based around the idea of hope and it's that hope that keeps me coming back for more... even if it seems like the answer hasn't walked through door again, just yet.
Tonight in Toronto, there were things to feel good about. Kendall Marshall, in two games, inspires more confidence at the PG position than most guys that have come through Philadelphia in the past year or so. His feel for the game and ability to pass instantly changed how the team was operating, on both sides of the ball.
Jahlil Okafor was an immediate beneficiary to Marshall's efforts. Overall, Okafor was as good as I've ever seen him play this year. Defensively, he looked focused and made the effort to engage players instead of sagging off. Offensively, he was showing a bit of everything about his game from post up to face up. Yes, it isn't all perfect. However, for a rookie that's given so much team responsibility, I don't expect it to be. My eyes do widen when I see him do things like this, however:
This was very well done, the Jah-ro Step. https://t.co/2tKpC1U2iW— Rich Hofmann (@rich_hofmann) December 14, 2015
With Marshall and Tony Wroten, who sat tonight preparing for tomorrow's back-to-back, this team will undoubtedly improve. Both provide a different skill set that had been afforded to the team for most of the season. Also, Coach Brett Brown finally has options at the point guard position and someone to properly manage the team at any point in the game. That is the hope, of course.
On My Brett Brown Takes
(Note: I really like Brett.)
As the season has gone on, for better or worse, fair or unfair, I've become more cognizant of Brown's coaching ability. To be perfectly honest, despite my initial reactions, I know how dumb it may be to argue players and line ups considering what he has to work with. It's inconsequential in the grand scheme because it's obvious that certain players won't be here for the long haul. Yet, for as much criticism as GM Sam Hinkie rightly deserves for building a 1-24 team, it just boggles my mind why Brown seems to evade any criticism with his coaching in close games. And so this tweet happened:
Minutes played: Canaan: 36 McConnell: 12 Enough of this "Poor Brett" nonsense.— Liberty Ballers (@Liberty_Ballers) December 14, 2015
On the face of it, it really is dumb and doesn't really serve justification for whatever point I was trying to make. Both players are limited and neither really should be options at Point with a "real" team. However, going back to the string of close games the Sixers dropped, it just seems that Brett keeps pressing the wrong buttons at crucial times. In this instance, my contention isn't that either player is better than the other or that this specific game is any evidence for anything serious.
In fact, the reason for that tweet was based on a 2 minute stretch in the middle of the 4th. At that point, the Sixers were at an 8 point deficit and Marshall had just exited the game. For the next 2+ minutes, the Canaan-led offense could found no rhythm and went scoreless. Canaan is an undersized SG and, after 50ish games that hasn't changed. To keep coming back to him for important stretches has just been frustrating to watch (even if the other option is TJ).
On the other hand, I might be just going through losing fatigue and finding reasons to have visceral reactions to this team.
Odds and Ends
- Nerlens Noel left the game after getting hit in the face with a clearly intentional elbow from Kyle Lowry. He was taken to the hospital and it was reported that he suffered a left eye corneal abrasion. This will sideline him for a bit depending on the severity. And Lowry? Well, he only got assessed a technical foul because reason?
- I think we've gotten uncomfortably used to unfavorable refereeing from bad calls, close calls to non calls. The difference in FTAs tonight (12 vs 30) is telling because it's not indicative of one team attacking the paint more either since Okafor basically lives there and he barely got any love. I really really really don't like blaming the officiating (and I'm not even talking about wins or losses here) but I've literally mentioned something like this in almost every one of my recaps.
- I'd think Luis Scola is up there with LeBron James judging by performances anytime he plays Philadelphia.
- Hollis Thompson.... I just... I mean... what happened to you? These are probably the least productive minutes I've ever seen out of ol' Holliswood and that's saying something. Passing up wide open 3s when that's your thing, is kind of a problem.
- Some older readers of LB will remember the "LWHAI" or the Lou Williams Hate Advisory Index. Well now, we need to start a "Stauskas Scale" to measure how "spicy" Sauce is on any given night. Tonight? Bland to Mild (-24 +/-, Yikes)
- Monday night the Sixers play the Bulls. As per minute restrictions and how they're handling back-to-backs, that means Marshall will sit and Wroten will be back.