TC15: Philadunkia 4on4

76erscrystalballIt’s time for our annual training camp edition of Philadunkia’s 4on4…

As a reminder, this Philadunkia question and answer series is “loosely based” on ESPN.com’s highly successful, NBA related series of posts titled “5on5″.  Our version of this genre of posts will ask 4 Philadunkia scribes to answer 4 topical, hot button questions about our Philadelphia 76ers.

Now you’re probably asking, “Why not simply stick with the “5on5″ format that ESPN.com uses?” 

Well as any great hoops coach will tell you — playing 4on4 is the best way to truly learn the game of basketball.

After the jump, Philadunkia scribes C. Smith, Michael Kaskey-Blomain, Jeff McMenamin and Tyler Cook will examine four questions surrounding our 76ers as training camp rolls on over at Stockton University.

 

1) Obviously all eyes in Philadunkia nation will be on the battle at TC15 for the 76ers starting PG spot. So, who ya got?

C. Smith:  Let me first state that I believe once Kendall Marshall is 100% healthy that he will be the starting point guard for the 76ers in 2015-16.  However since there is no timetable for Marshall’s return to action and with Tony Wroten still on the shelf for some time, I would bet that Isaiah Canaan will be the starting point man in Brett Brown’s lineup on opening night.  To be honest that idea doesn’t really excite me and I hope that Pierre Jackson actually beats him out, but coming in to camp I think the job is Canaan’s to lose. Hinkie traded KJ McDaniels for Canaan and I am told Hinkie likes the undersized guard (6’0 tall) a good deal.  Despite my loud protests, Canaan received significant minutes from Brown in 2014-15 and thus has experience in Brown’s systems.  Since he is backed by Hinkie and has spent time under Brown, I hink he holds off Jackson for one of the starting PG slot on opening night.

Kaskey-Blomain:  All health issues aside, my guess would be Kendall Marshall.  He is probably the best pure point guard of the team’s camp crop, and his ability to distribute the ball to some of the team’s budding young players should be an advantage in his favor.  He can run a half-court offense and also operates well on the break, which fits in well with the Sixers’ system on the offensive end.  While he is far from a dead-eye from long range, he is a serviceable shooter, and he can knock down open opportunities should the post players draw extra attention.

Some of the point guard puzzle will also have to do with where the team wants to see Wroten play.  He is the best on the team at penetrating into the paint and getting the ball to the basket, but the verdict is still out on if he is best suited as a one or two guard.  I could see Wroten getting time at both spots, as the team will certainly want to give him ample on-court opportunity, but Marshall might make the most sense at the point.

McMenamin:  Pierre Jackson. The team has a lot of faith in the little fella and he finally has his chance to place himself as the team’s starter when the season begins at the end of October.

Jackson tore his right Achilles tendon seven minutes into his first summer-league game back in 2014, which forced him to miss the entire 2014-15 campaign.  He’s been working his way back to full strength ever since.  Before his injury, Jackson averaged 29.1 points per game in the D-League in 2013-14, which included a 58 point game for the Idaho Stampede.  He averaged 10 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.2 assists on the Sixers summer league squad in Las Vegas, but shot just 31.8 percent from the field.  Expect those numbers to grow as he gets accustomed to the offense. He’ll serve as the starter to open the season until Tony Wroten and Kendall Marshall return to form from injury.

Cook:  Unlike the majority of NBA teams dealing with the tough decision between one or two guys to run the point position, the Sixers has multiple guys heading into training camp scrapping for the spot.  Training camp is time to forget being “buddy buddy” and go get yourself a job on an NBA roster.  The competition this year includes Kendall Marshall, Tony Wroten, Pierre Jackson, Isaiah Canaan, and Scottie Wilbekin.  I think it will be a tough battle but in the end the guy bringing the ball up the court will be Kendall Marshall (When he’s finally healthy.).  Tony Wroten is crafty and has spurts of good court vision and ball movement, but in my opinion he just should not be a starter in the NBA.  That being said he makes an excellent guy coming off the bench and could contribute in those crucial minutes while the starters catch their breath.  Marshall has decent ball skills and can shoot the ball fairly well.  I think he would be the best-fit guy to run things at the top of the key.  He showed he had what it takes and was just dealt some bad luck in LA and Milwaulkee.

2) Every year one player seems to receive a great deal of publicity for having an “outstanding” TC. Which player on the roster do think will shine at TC15?

C. Smith:  Nerlens Noel and his improved jump shot will be the darlings of TC15.  I think Noel is going to take a giant step forward this season and that move to the next level will start with blowing the minds of the beat reporters who are allowed to watch the action at training camp.  Noel played very solid basketball down the stretch of last season — 14 ppg. on 50% shooting from the field & 11 rpg. in 17 games during April 2015 — and I think he can build off that strong finish. Additionally, everyone I talk with says his jumper has in fact improved and that he aded some muscle this summer.  So be prepared for a slew of Tweets and stories on how “outstanding” #4 looks during action over at Stockton.

Kaskey-Blomain:  I think we will hear a lot about Nik Stauskas because there is so much interest in him and what he can potentially bring to the squad. I expect to hear a lot about how great of a shooter Stauskas is, and how quick his release is and how smooth it looks. While all of that is possibly true, I think people are really hoping Nik pans out and are clamoring for positive takes on his performance.

McMenamin:  Hollis Thompson.  Thompson is often overlooked as a weapon on the Sixers roster.  As a career 40 percent shooter from beyond the arc, he may just be the Sixers’ biggest shooting threat, although he suffered through a lackluster season in 2014-15. Thompson missed 11 games last season due to an upper respiratory infection, which caused him to lose nearly 20 pounds of muscle in the process.  He averaged just 8.8 points and 2.8 rebounds by the end of the year, but worth noting was his surge in production to end the season.  Thompson scored in double-figures in 13 of the Sixers final 20 games to end the season, averaging 2.4 three’s per game.

At just 24 years old, and with two years of experience under his belt, he still has time to prove how good of an offensive player he can be. Training camp may be the start of that.

Cook:  I think the guy to look for in training camp this year is Jerami Grant.  He always seems to be working hard especially in the offseason and in the summer league.  Another thing I have noticed is just his freak athleticism.  He can grab boards, attack the rim on offense, and executes on the defensive side of the ball.  I think he shows up in training camp and works hard.

3) Which 76er had the “best” time off the court this summer and reported to camp out of shape?

C. Smith:  Am I allowed to answer Joel Embiid on this one?  No.  Okay, then I’ll go with Carl Landry.  He’s 32 years old (FYI…the only 30-year old on the TC roster) and he probably can’t believe that in his 8th year in the League that he is at training camp with the “rebuilding” 76ers.  To be honest, he’s probably livid at being traded from the dysfunctional Kings to the tanking 76ers and he’s nursing a wrist injury so I can’t imagine he was very inspired to work out this summer.  I bet he ripped it up during July and August and showed up out of shape.

Kaskey-Blomain:  Does Joel Embiid count?  In reality, I don’t see any of the guys showing up too out of shape to camp.  All of the players competing for spots have a lot to prove and cannot afford complacency, or allowing themselves to get out of shape.  Many of the guys were in Philadelphia working hard throughout the summer, and others like Noel were working out on their own.  I expect the guys to be hungry and ready to go, rather than out of shape.

McMenamin:  I’m going with Isaiah Canaan.  Foot injuries are never fun to recover from and Netflix and food can suddenly become your best friend as you keep weight off of it. Canaan may have just gone through that this summer, as his latest pictures on Instagram can attest to. I think just one too many pints of ice cream were consumed by him this summer.

Cook:  The Sixers are a young team and I think most of them should be physically fit and in shape before reporting to training camp. However I think the person who might be slightly out of shape, not because he had a “good time” this offseason is Marshall.  He had that ACL injury that made him miss the rest of last season with the Milwaukee Bucks.  He has had to rehab that injury and maybe not gotten to prepare for the upcoming season like he would have wanted to had he been healthy.

4) Which member of the Sixers TC roster do you think will surprisingly NOT be on the opening night roster (cut, waived, traded or sent to D-League)?

C. Smith:  I’ll answer Landry on this question as well.  Again, he’s 32 years old and has been in the League 8 years.  Thus, the 76ers are very aware of what kind of reserve/ role player Landry can be for them — 11 & 5 per night over his career. Additionally, from a skill standpoint Landry’s best days are behind him.  Lastly, he is injury prone (He has only played in 70 or more games during a season twice in his career.) and right now is day-to-day after having wrist surgery back in June.  I have to believe that Hinkie would much rather see minutes given to one of the young prospects than Landry.  I also believe that Landry doesn’t want to be in Philly. With $12+million remaining on his contracts over the next 2 years, the buyout / waive price for Landry could be hefty, but that hasn’t stopped Hinkie in the past (Ex: JaVale McGee and Gerald Wallace).

Kaskey-Blomain:  I just feel like this is not the year for Jordan McRae. He did end up making it to training camp, but it seems he was far from a lock, and with a crowded competition for the perimeter positions already, it will be interesting to see if McRae displays enough development to finally secure a spot.

McMenamin:  Surprise or no surprise, I think Isaiah Canaan will be the player last in line for cuts by the end of training camp. Considering the Sixers traded away K.J. McDaniels to acquire Canaan, this cut might hurt for some of the Sixers fan base. With the Sixers needing a backup point guard to start the season, Canaan still has an outside chance to make the team, but they dealt with some point-Jakarr Sampson at times last season and they could very well do the same until Tony Wroten and/or Kendall Marshall return from injury when the season starts.

Cook:  It’s a toss up.  I think that you might not see Wilbekin in a Sixers jersey at the start of this year.  The position is likely to be filled and Wilbekin is finding himself looking up from the bottom of the depth chart.  I like Marshall, Wroten, and even Jackson before Wilbekin.  I could also see Canaan finding himself struggling to make a roster spot. Both better hope for stellar training camps just to be on the safe side.

 

 

C. Smith is the Editor of Philadunkia.com.  You can follow us on Twitter @philadunkia.

Michael Kaskey-Blomain is a scribe for Philadunkia.  You can follow him on Twitter @therealmikeKB.

Jeff McMenamin is a scribe for Philadunkia.  You can follow him on Twitter @Sixersblog.

Tyler Cook is a scribe for Philadunkia.  You can follow him on Twitter @TylerCook93 .

 

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