Despite only taking nearly 1000 days to reach this point, it all finally came together on Wednesday night: Joel Embiid played in a regular season NBA game and walked to tell the tale. For more on Embiid you can read Marc here, but with a couple days between games, let’s dive into (and RANK) the other guys’ performance from the home opener. Note: considering that Embiid is the best player in the NBA, you can assume that he is ranked first by default.
1) Robert Covington: 10P/5R/2A, 2 STL, 1BLK, 3-6 FG
Look, Robert Covington is probably more important than we think. As the lone standout among the revolving cast of Phil Presseys and Christapher Johnsons through the years, Lord Cov is imperative to any unrelenting assertion that Hinkie was justified in his constant roster tinkering.
But this argument was deeply in jeopardy following the preseason, as Covington seemed to stagnate in his progression: he was launching away from beyond the arc without purpose — nailing only a quarter of his five attempts per — and looked mostly disinterested on defense. Robert Covington The Three-and-D Prospect is one of the league’s most adaptable players on his current contract, but anything less and he just becomes another guy. A ridiculously handsome guy.
His box score doesn’t exactly jump off the page, but Covington was all over the place in the opener. He was a ballhawk in the passing lanes, constantly disrupting offensive actions as he offered measured help off his man.
And though he seemed to stick with those misguided chucks, it was understandable as he was constantly looked off of when open:
And as Marc pointed out he even showcased some effective passing — a trait that has been noticeably absent from his game over the last two years.
2) Sergio Rodriguez: 12P/4R/9A, 0 TO, 5-11 FG
Based off last night, you’d never guess that Sergio only averaged a touch over one attempted three per game in his previous NBA life — El Chacho let them rip all night, hand in his face be damned. Twelve points and nine dishes isn’t flashy (though the passes were!) but it’s exactly what these Sixers need.
3) Nik Stauskas: 13P/4R/1A, 5-6 FG, 0-1 3FG
Following preseason, you could’ve replaced Sauce Castillo’s roster spot with literally anybody and I wouldn’t have cared. His progress seems oddly chronological, where he can do nothing else before his three starts falling — and with his shot completely MIA in the previous weeks, he presented little-to-no on-court value for Philadelphia.
But not last night: his scoring repertory was sprinkled with backdoor cuts and strong takes to the rim — and with only one 3-point attempt to his name. This is exactly what Stauskas needs to do to stick in the league.
4) Richaun Holmes: 6P/3R/0A, 3 BLK, 12 MIN
Probably about what we can expect from Rich this year if the roster stays as is: limited minutes, but the offense seemed to unclog whenever he was the lone big on the floor. Until then, he’ll have to learn to lower his body and box out rather than trying to out-leap opponents for rebounds — a recurring theme in this contest.
5) Jerami Grant: 10P/4R/0A, 2 BLK, 4-10 FG
The Sixers ran a Sergio-Jerami pick-and-pop for seemingly every other play during second quarter’s latter half, and it went about as expected: defenders stormed at Sergio as Jerami was left all by his lonesome, and the offense slowly screeched to a halt. Although he knocked down a couple, there’s nothing really new here — an even respectable jumper may well ascend Jerami’s potential a rank or five, but he’s a tough offensive fit with this roster until then.
6) Gerald Henderson: 9P/2R/0A, 2-3 3FG, 0 TO
This was probably an ideal preview for what Henderson can be in Philadelphia: knock down open shots, defend slightly above replacement level, and mostly stay out of the way on offense. But he gets knocked down a few ranks for whatever that play at the end of the game was.
7) T.J. McConnell: 0P/2R/7A, 0-0 FG, 2 STL
I’m like 87 percent convinced that T.J. purposely put this stat line up as a personal “happy birthday” message to Mike Levin.
8) Jahlil Okafor: 8P/3R/0A, 4-10 FG, 3 TO
There always seems to be a “but” with Jahlil Okafor: he was temporarily incendiary out the gate — perhaps a preview of how devastating a presence he can be as Embiid’s permanent backup — but he was almost solely responsible for the offense’s stagnation in the second half; he looks much improved in terms of getting to the right spots on defense compared to last season, but he crumbles like a Jenga set when attacked at the rim; he looked spry and engaged throughout the entire game, but that didn’t stop him from getting shoved around on the glass by Enes Kanter and Steven Adams.
For now, this role is likely appropriate for him. But until then, let’s appreciate Russell Westbrook for mercifully electing to not rip of Jahlil’s head and dunk it on this play:
9) Dario Saric: 5P/7/2A, 2-12 FG, 0-4 3FG
Is this guy ever gonna come over? Because he sure as hell disappeared from this game.
This analysis brought to you by the Subway Fresh Take Hotline.
10) Hollis Thompson: 4P/2R/0A, 0-2 3FG, 0-2 FT
I’m not mad, Hollis. Actually, I am mad. What the hell is this: