The Philadelphia 76ers fan favorite, T.J. McConnell, will likely see his role with the team change this season.
T.J. McConnell is one of the most electrifying players on the Philadelphia 76ers roster. He is a product of “The Process”, and Sixers’ fans have seen the development of the gritty guard since he came into the league undrafted out of Arizona in 2015. T.J. did not acquire his popularity for athleticism, three-point shooting, or A.I.-like ball handling, but for the sheer amount of effort he gives every time he steps on the court.
Last season in 22.4 minutes per game. McConnell’s numbers didn’t stand out to you on paper, averaging 6.3 points, 4.2 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and 1.2 steals, while shooting 49.9 percent from the field.
T.J’s value comes from his stout defense, diving on the floor for loose balls, and the immense energy he plays the game with that elevates the play of all of his teammates and gets the Philly crowd roaring.
One thing that McConnell improved tremendously on was his three-point percentage, increasing it from 20 percent in the 2016-2017 season to 43.5 percent (60 percent from the corner) last season. Even though he only attempted 62 three-pointers overall, the improvement shows it can continue in the future. He showed he is capable of hitting open corner threes when needed.
Sixers fans will see a decrease in playing time for T.J. McConnell this season due to the full-time availability of Markelle Fultz. If Fultz continues to stay in the starting lineup, and Brett Brown sticks to the rotation he has used thus far in preseason, then McConnell will see his 22.4 minutes per game from last season cut.
Through the first two preseason games, either Ben Simmons or Markelle Fultz have been on the floor at all times running the point. It was not until the second half until we saw McConnell play a significant amount.
You can’t take the preseason too seriously for how the Sixers will play during the regular season, but it does show signs of what’s to come. T.J. McConnell will be the third point guard in the rotation compared to playing as the backup in 2017-18. I see McConnell playing about 15 minutes per contest.
What Sixers fan will love about the decreased playing time for T.J. is that when he is out of the court he will be able to run even wilder and fly around with even more effort than he did in previous seasons.
He won’t have to conserve as much energy so he will be even more scrappy and a bigger nuisance to opposing teams’ players. It is the same thing as a relief pitcher in baseball; they throw one or two innings throwing the ball full force without limitations, unlike a starter that has to tactically plan out his course.
T.J.’s playing time will fluctuate every game for various reasons. T.J. will be used to play lockdown defense on small, quick, guards like we saw last year in the playoffs when he played significant minutes guarding Terry Rozier for the Celtics in the second round (started game four and put up 19/7/5 in their only win of the series).
His improved shooting and him being a great floor general allowed him to not be an offensive liability like it did in the past. McConnell exhibited his worth to the entire NBA world, proving he can be a prominent backup point guard in this league.
Other times T.J. will see increased play time is when the team is on the opposing side of a run and need an energy boost and to reinvigorate the crowd into the game. Throw T.J. McConnell into the game and he will pick the pocket of an opponent, dive out of bounds to save a loose ball, or hit one of his beautiful eight-foot moving jumpers, and the crowd will erupt, giving the Sixers some momentum.
T.J. McConnell definitely has a role on this Sixers team this year it, just will differ game to game. The one thing you will get from T.J. is a guy who is in it for the team. He is team before self 365 days of the year.
In the Sixers’ second preseason game against the Orlando Magic, Markelle Fultz hit his first three-pointer and T.J. was the first guys to dap him up and give him a hug. He is losing time on the court due to Fultz but T.J. knows it is for the betterment of the team.
T.J. McConnell is in his contract season and he is ready to show the city of Philadelphia why they can’t let him walk away and his game will talk for him. Get ready for more exciting T.J. McConnell. Trust The Gritness.
(All stats via basketball-reference.com)