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The Sixers May Have Found A Diamond In The Rough With TJ McConnell

So the Sixers lost again to another mediocre team in the Milwaulkee Bucks and blah blah blah blah blah. Whatever. This squad could match their 0-17 start last year and nobody would blink an eye. Hell, 0-82 wouldn’t phase many people, either. We’re in the final chapter of this Tankadelphia Trilogy. All that matters is staying healthy and developing talent at this point, and boy oh boy did Sam Hinkie find himself a gem in undrafted rookie TJ McConnell. Granted, we’re only 4 games into the season and his career, but this kid has shown flashes and balls on the court.

He deserved to start vs. the Bucks and has earned that PG position for the near future. Juts look at this excerpt (from before last night’s game) about the kid via PhillyMag:

The 0-3 76ers have been outscored by a total of 52 points so far this season. That kind of deficit isn’t a huge surprise to most who predict a long, difficult season ahead for the Sixers. But with McConnell on the floor the Sixers have only been outscored by 9 points, 164-173, in 77 minutes of action. When he’s been on the bench? The Sixers have been outscored by 43 points in 67 minutes of play.

The numbers become even more staggering the deeper you dive into them.

With McConnell on the court the Sixers are shooting a respectable 47.5% from the field and 37.1% from three point range, good for a true shooting percentage 58.4%. With McConnell on the bench the wheels have fallen off the Sixers offense: they’re shooting just 30.0% from the field and 26.9% from three point range when McConnell has been off the floor, good for a dismal true shooting percentage of 39.8%.

The numbers continue in McConnell’s favor: the Sixers attempt more shots in the restricted area (34.4% of their field goal attempts vs 31.8%) when McConnell is playing, and do so at a significantly higher efficiency (66.7% vs 54.3%). The ball moves better (36 assists on 58 made field goals with McConnell on the court vs 13 assists on 33 made field goals when he’s on the bench), they play at a higher pace, and their defense improves (106.2 points per 100 possessions allowed with McConnell playing vs 108.4 when he’s on the bench).

The numbers, as one might expect, show a similar, albeit inverse, relationship with Canaan on the court. The numbers aren’t exact opposites of McConnell’s, since McConnell and Canaan have been on the court together at times, but the pattern has been clear: the Sixers so far have shot 34.3% with Canaan on the court, 29.5% from three point range, shoot only 57.4% in the restricted area, and score only 84.9 points per 100 possessions when Canaan is on the court.

76ers Offensive Performance (Team)

Player FG% 3PT% TS% Off Rtg

T.J. McConnell 47.5% 37.1% 58.4% 103.5
Isaiah Canaan 34.3% 29.5% 44.9% 84.9

It’s not that hard to see the difference just by a simple eye test, but numbers help, too. We’ve got shades of Stockton and Nash here, baby. Maybe. And by maybe I mean no way in hell but, hey, a man can dream.

Is McConnell the PG of the future? Probably not. But shit, at least he’ll be fun to watch this year and maybe he can play a part on the Sixers 2017-2028 Championship teams. Oh, and btw there’s Okafor, who just turned out his 3rd 20+ point game in his first 4 NBA games. 9-13 from the field. Not too shabby.