Philadelphia 76ers: It’s time to move on from T.J. McConnell

T.J. McConnell | Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Corey Perrine/Getty Images)
T.J. McConnell | Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Corey Perrine/Getty Images) /

T.J. McConnell no longer looks the part of a valuable contributor for the Philadelphia 76ers.

The Philadelphia 76ers have been very good for the entire season. Despite essentially three roster overhauls, they still stand at 49-29 and are currently are the third seed in the Eastern Conference and tied for the fifth-best record in the entire NBA. Led by one of the most talented starting fives in the league, they are gearing up for what should be a deep playoff run.

Despite the numerous changes to the roster this season, the starting five has remained elite. The current five man unit of Ben Simmons, J.J. Redick, Jimmy Butler, Tobias Harris and Joel Embiid boast an impressive offensive rating of 119.0 and an even more impressive net rating of 17.6.

However, even with the dominant starting five, the bench has been the Sixers’ Achilles Heel all season. While the team did make several trades in an attempt to booster their bench and acquired players like Mike Scott, James Ennis III and Boban Marjanović, the bench has still struggled with things like spacing and overall defense.

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And I am of the opinion that many of the Sixers’ issues are due to just a single player.

T.J. McConnell.

Now before you take my head off, let me preface it with this: I love T.J. He personifies the city of Philadelphia with his endless hustle and gritty style of play. Last year, he was arguably my favorite player on the team, and his jersey was the first jersey I bought since Jrue Holiday was on the team. His heroics in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals were the only reason the Sixers weren’t swept by the Celtics last year. However, this season has shown that he is a complete liability on both sides of the floor, and the Sixers should be looking to replace him with a competent backup this summer.

In 19.4 minutes per game this season, T.J. is averaging 6.3 points, 3.5 assists and 2.3 rebounds per game on 52 percent shooting as the primary backup to Ben Simmons. While these numbers are not bad for a reserve, they still leave a lot to be desired.

His performance on the offensive end is outdated. In an NBA enamored with three-point shots, and on a team that already has one point guard who can’t shoot, McConnell avoids taking three-pointers at almost all costs. On the season, he has taken just 42 three-pointers, making 14 of them (0.2 makes per game on 0.6 attempts) for a three-point percentage of 33 percent.

He also loves mid-range jumpers, and while it is his best shot, it is no doubt hurting the bench’s spacing. Per Basketball Reference, 89 percent of his shot comes from inside the arc, with 75 percent of his shots coming from 16 feet or less. Mike Scott, James Ennis and even Jonah Bolden are able to spread the floor, which is crucial when Ben Simmons or Boban are out there, as neither of them are threats from outside.

But when T.J. is out there with Boban, which happens frequently, the opposing defenses are able to back off McConnell and Boban and help out with any outside threats, minimizing their production and stalling the offense. T.J. is not dynamic enough on offense and it’s hurting the Sixers.

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Another place of weakness is on the defensive side of the ball.

Though he picks up the opposing ball handler at full court, T.J.’s defense is not good. According to, T.J. has a defensive rating of 107.4, which is by the far the worst of his career and on par with players like Landry Shamet, Langston Galloway and Chasson Randle.

T.J. is just too small and not athletic enough to keep up with most guards. He adds to the team’s poor pick-and-roll defense and has a hard time staying in front of opposing players. While most of his defensive downfalls are due to his size, which he has no control over, it is still a detriment to the team, and the Sixers should be looking to replace him in the summer with a backup guard who can hold his own on that end of the floor.

Though T.J. is justly a fan favorite, I believe that it is time to move on from him at the end of the season. Potential free agent point guard targets include: Darren Collison, Corey Joseph, Patrick Beverley, Tyus Jones and Malcolm Brogdon. The Sixers could even replace him with an in-house option in Shake Milton. While none of these guys are stars, they would be immediate upgrades over McConnell due to most of their superior offense and in the case of Beverley, Brogdon and Jones, much, much better defense.

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Seeing T.J., a Process hero, in a different uniform is going to be hard. But for a team with legitimate championship aspirations, it’s necessary. I think the only course of action is to move on from McConnell in favor of someone who can and is willing to shoot the three and can hold his own on defense.