J.P. Tokoto: The Boost The Sixers Offense Needs?


J.P. Tokoto has some of the tools that could give the Sixers offense a boost that it needs.

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Although he seems to specialize in making himself a key-presence for rebounds, and playing hands-on defense, his offensive qualities are sometimes overlooked.

Tokoto was taken 58th overall by the Philadelphia 76ers this season, and has recently finished up getting a contract settled with the team for $525,000, in non-guaranteed cash. This is following initial reports after he was drafted saying Tokoto was leaning more towards playing in the D-League, or overseas.

This highlight video shows exactly what Tokoto does best, and that’s create explosive plays. This forward spent three years playing college ball, so he’s had some time to grow. Still, there’s a reason he didn’t go in the first round, and he has his issues.

His shooting percentage was pretty good throughout his career, shooting 49.1% from the two-point zone, but his three point shooting was not good, shooting 26.6% over the course of his career at North Carolina.

The only promising part of his three point shooting is the fact that Tokoto improved in every year as a Tar Heel. He averaged an increase of 14.2% every season on his three point shooting.

Coming onto a team that averaged just 32% from beyond the arc last season — which was 29th out of 30 in the league — he needs to give them all he’s got from three. Hopefully he’s still improving, and hasn’t become stagnant with that 37.5% from the three point zone.

Luckily, in this Draft Express video, Tokoto seemed to have a focus on his shooting mechanics, with an emphasis on three point shooting, which was a reason many analysts thought his shooting percentage was low. He told Draft Express that he was correcting some foot and wrist motions to make his shot better.

I wouldn’t expect Tokoto to be much of a threat beyond the three point line. He won’t be explosive for the offense there, but in other aspects of his game, he could provide a huge boost.

Taking things all the way back to his high school days, we can see Tokoto was known for his dunks.

In UNC, it was no different, and a lot of his biggest plays involve him slamming the ball down in the hoop.

Standind at 6’6″, it’s impressive the hops Tokoto has, and the lack of fear he has when going up against defenders larger than him.

Additionally on offense Tokoto is known for moving well off of screens and playing well off the ball.

This type of offensive play promotes an environment that is going to get the ball moving. Tokoto may not be the man that’s getting the jobs done directly, but he’s going to be the one who’s encouraging his teammates to push the offense with his passes and off the ball movement with screens.

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His fast break is one of his most encouraging aspects. He can drive to the lane and score, or set a teammate up with a lob or pass through defenders.

His low cost (just over half a million, non-guaranteed) is encouraging. Tokoto to me was a steal in the draft, and should have gone earlier. Still, I’m not sure he’s a talent that is ready to be on an NBA roster, but I’m confident he can easily be developed quickly into a good NBA player.

In my opinion, Tokoto was a driving force of the UNC offense last season. When they played Duke on February 18th, they fell behind early, losing by 12 points in the first half and going 1 for their first 7.

Tokoto used himself in the offense, working well on transition, and looking to score and assist. A quick alley-oop from Tokoto got the offense rolling, and then a pass into the lane on a few possessions later allowed the Tar Heels to cut the lead even more. UNC went from going one for seven to four of their next four, seemingly a run started by Tokoto’s smart passing.

This is exactly what the Sixers need on their roster. A player who can push for more offensive successes, and a player who leads his team to offensive success, getting them out of ruts. Going 1-for-10 early in a game can get a team behind early, but if they’re able to follow that up with 8 of their next 10, it’s not that bad. Tokoto can lead teams to do this.

The remaining question is obvious, will Tokoto make the final roster? I’ve quarreled with the thought since he was officially signed, and I’m still not set in stone on my opinion, but I believe he will be sent down to play for the Delaware 87ers in the D-League. I do think his presence this year could help the team, but I still feel like he needs some development, and stashing him in the D-League for now would be helpful for both parties.

It’s not that far out that he might make the final roster, too, though. I could see Tokoto’s fate going either way.

Still, I’m looking forward to seeing him on the final roster at some point either way. Maybe not this season, but next. He brings an offensive push that motivates teammates to succeed.

Next: Flat Top Podcast Episode 1

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