Are The Sixers An Island Of Misfit Toys?


Christmas is months and months away, but as I continue to look into the Philadelphia 76ers, their roster, and the season ahead of them, I can’t help but notice how Sam Hinkie’s way of getting players has made them sort of an island of misfit toys, like in the TV special Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer.

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We know that the Sixers don’t have the best roster in the NBA. That’s pretty much a fact, considering they only won 18 games last season, and that in my season schedule prediction, I felt like projecting they could win more than 30 games was pushing it. Sure, they’ve got some big names like Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel, but both of those guys have yet to be fully developed, and one hasn’t even played an NBA game yet.

The rest of the roster, to me, are like the unwanted misfit toys of the NBA. Which isn’t necessarily a terrible thing, but let me elaborate.

Nik Stauskas was projected to be one of the best rookies last season. After playing just 15.6 minutes and averaging 4.4 points per game, it was obvious his debut season was a let down. The Kings no longer wanted him, as he was taking up money better spent elsewhere and not playing that well. With the Sixers backcourt situation being almost as pitiful as could be, why not ship him off to Philadelphia?

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Now, in Philly he’s a treasured player who fans are looking forward to see. Why? Because in the terms of the misfit island, he’s a star.

And how about Robert Covington? He was averaging less than three points per game on 4.9 minutes. After signing with the Sixers last year, he bumped that all the way up to 13.5 points per game. Now, I would like to see how well he would have done with the Rockets if he would have played more minutes there, but that was never even close to happening. He played less than a full game of minutes in his entire time in Houston, often in the D-League.

His debut in the NBA was a grand total of 54 seconds, and that just about sums things up as far as Covington and the Rockets.

Tony Wroten is another example, coming from the Memphis Grizzlies. Wroten was moved by the Grizzlies to the Sixers for a second round draft pick, not the most flattering return for him. He went from averaging 2.6 points per game two years ago in Memphis to averaging 16.9 this past year. That’s a huge increase, and you guessed it — a product of minute increase yet again (22 minutes more in Philly).

Wroten was another player who found himself in the D-League a lot before coming to Philadelphia.

All of these players would not have been considered starters, or even brought up in a conversation of “five best players on the team,” for most other NBA teams. On their previous teams, they averaged low minutes, and in turn, low statistics along with that.

Most of these players were happily traded away or released because of the minimal skill sets they seemed to offer their prior teams in comparison to the other members of the roster. When they came to Philly, however, they were embraced, welcomed, and some of them even found themselves starting games, something they were certainly not accustomed to elsewhere.

While this is nice that the misfits found a home, it points to the fact that the Sixers roster is terrible right now, and incredibly underdeveloped. Despite the fact that lots of these players saw over 100% increases in their points and other stats when they came to Philly, it was mainly because they simply got more than five minutes per game. Don’t be fooled by the huge jump in number just because their location was a drastic change.

Getting thirty minutes a game is not even close to getting thirty minutes a game with the Houston Rockets.

It’s not all bad, though. These guys get a place where they can develop more quickly because of all the game time they are getting. It’s hard to say if the quality of their developments are at a high level or not, but at least they seem to be progressing. I say that the roster is not a good one now, but that doesn’t mean this same roster can’t be better a few years down the road. It’s overall young, and has room for growth.

Also, guys like Stauskas, who really got off on the wrong foot in the NBA, get a chance for redemption. Here’s hoping he embraces that.

Jahlil could even be considered a misfit. Although he could be considered as a huge step up from the players mentioned above, the Sixers reportedly didn’t even want him on draft night, and had to “settle,” for him. I’m perfectly fine with being “stuck” with Jah, and it’s a stretch to call him a misfit in the NBA just yet, but still, it’s something that adds to the Sixers seemingly increasingly known reputation as the misfit island.

This isn’t all bad, as I alluded to earlier. Having these misfits in Philly gives them an environment to grow and develop into more quality players, something they wouldn’t have gotten in their old homes. Some will stay on the roster, and others will almost undoubtedly be shuffled around as the process works its way out over the next few years.

They may be misfits now, but just you wait, they could be full-fledged stars in a few years.

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