Mike Scott has been really good in his reserve role for Philadelphia over his 9 games. As The Athletic’s Rich Hofmann put it on the Sixers Beat pod he hosts with Derek Bodner, “he don’t give a s—t man.” I’m comfy inferring he meant it in a good way, based on the inflection and context. The dude brings an edge to the reserve unit this team really needed.
Scott has been asked by his new coach Brett Brown to do quite a bit already: mesh with a new team, learn the offensive sets, learn how and when the team likes to switch defensively, play some center against Steven Adams or DeMarcus Cousins. He’s survived his baptism by fire by posting a positive net rating so far of +6.9 per game (a total +- of +31 over his 9 games and 201 minutes) per NBA.com. He’s done so while taking on some extra minutes because of the injuries to Joel Embiid and Boban Marjanović.
Of course Scott committed a terrible foul against the Golden State Warriors last weekend and that contributed to the team’s heartbreaking loss at home to the defending champs. It was a really big mistake:
Brett Brown reaction after Mike Scott intentionally fouled Kevin Durant with 35 seconds left.. only down 3 in the Warriors / 76ers pic.twitter.com/PIeJe9gNQu— kingtisemedia (@kingtisemedia) March 3, 2019
To his credit he has owned it. But he was also part of the reason the team was even in the game having hit 6 of his 9 attempts from downtown all in the second half. He also made some nice defensive plays against Kevin Durant too as we’ll get to in the film breakdown.
Coach Brown embraces small-ball?
Coach Brown has asked Scott to play some center in small-ball lineups. In the 67 minutes he’s been on the court without any of Embiid, Boban, Amir Johnson or Jonah Bolden his net rating is a respectable zero with a defensive rating of 111.2 per Fantasy Labs.
Of course breaking even isn’t the worst outcome when you’re asking him to stop things like this from happening:
But what he’s accomplished is still pretty interesting considering how often the team has discussed wanting to find a reliable rim protector to backup Embiid. Is it possible they could they have found their best solution for that role in 6’8, 237 lbs Scott?
For context when Jonah Bolden, 6’10, 220 lbs, gets run at the 5 without any of Boban, Embiid or Johnson he’s a -5.9 over 257 minutes of play with a defensive rating of 116.1 per Fantasy Labs.
Coach Brown will have plenty to think about over the next 19 games in terms of who primarily backs up Embiid during the playoffs.
While Bolden is rangier and longer with a 7’3 wingspan and in many ways a better bet for the backup big spot in the long term, for now it seems he’s not as strong as Scott, he misses more reads defensively, and he is not as reliable of a deep-threat on the other end. No knocks, he’s a rookie. But it’s that final point that really draws opposing bigs away from the hoop opening the floor for Ben Simmons; a benefit that was huge for Philly down the stretch a year ago when Embiid was out with an orbital fracture.
Experience could be the deciding factor there. For some excellent arguments for sticking with Bolden read LB’s own Dan Volpone’s debut piece on why The Sixers need to unleash Jonah Bolden. And this balanced look at Bolden by Derek Bodner of The Athletic is very insightful as well.
Coach Brown has tended to prefer a traditional 4-5 combo but the rash of injuries or inconsistent play from his center rotation has perhaps forced him out of his comfort zone a bit. It has looked pretty good, as even Ben Simmons has slid over to man the big spot here and there. Everyone is doing mini-experiments and adapting.
A component of Scott’s statistical edge could simply be because he has hit 20 of his first 40 3 point attempts, and as that percentage regresses with more attempts, his on-off impact could dip a bit as well. But hopefully he can keep making enough triples to offset some of the sting we feel when we see what Landry Shamet (who was involved in the same trade that landed The Threegional Manager in Philly) is doing for the Clippers:
Landry Shamet hit SIX threes in the opening quarter vs. the Knicks pic.twitter.com/IlXWvTT0CC— Bleacher Report NBA (@BR_NBA) March 3, 2019
Now Scott is not P.J. Tucker on defense. But he’s not bad either. He began his Sixers tenure sporting an 80th percentile rank defensively per Synergy Sports from his time with the Clips and that followed his 2017-2018 campaign in Washington when he finished in the 66th percentile on D. He’s shot over 40% from downtown over his last 4 seasons so GM Elton Brand was probably banking on him continuing the hot shooting. The defense, on the other hand, was perhaps more of a gamble.
Stats aren’t worth too much to us now after just a few games so let’s check the film.
Here is a 2:17 minute video with a few of my favorite plays by The Threegional Manager from the last few games against premier Western Conference teams. It’s set to some fierce Cuban style tunes by Nel Deacon. Enjoy.