Richardson may be down here, but lately, his grade has been going up.
Janet Jackson (Miss Jackson if you’re nasty) once lyrically asked, “What have you done for me lately?”
Today, we address this poignant question to the 76ers. And we’ll answer it, to boot, in the form of grades for each player in the regular rotation.
Disclaimer: Providing a concrete assessment on a basketball team 12 games into an 82-game season is like providing a movie review upon viewing the trailer. But in this Internet age of hair-trigger responses and knee-jerk reactions, that’s what the people want so, hey, ask and ye shall receive.
So, without further ado, here are the early grades for every Sixer in the regular rotation, as we sit here 15 percent into the 2012-2013 campaign.
These grades, much like a Jackson “wardrobe malfunction,” are subject to change.
The only reason for the minus: the turnovers, at the expense of some ill-advised decisions. Otherwise, Holiday has seemingly made the leap from promising young player to one of the top point guards in the conference, significantly ramping up every other phase of his game. As he becomes more comfortable in his new top dog role with the team, the game should, in turn, continue to slow down.
Regardless, it looks like we’ve learned this holiday season that it’s Holiday’s season.
The “other guy” the Sixers received in the Bynum deal may never have fans saying “Andrew who,” but what he has done is bring a much-needed dose of veteran leadership and stability to this otherwise youthful, inexperienced squad.
Hampered by an ankle injury early on, J-Rich may have finally fully recovered with two consecutive quality outings, including a 21-point display against the Toronto Raptors, which featured a game-changing three plus an and-one occurring after a vicious, but inadvertent, foot to the face by Kyle Lowry.
Because of Spencer Hawes’ preference to play small and Kwame Brown's preference to play invisible, Young has had to step up and play big.
Considered undersized as a power forward, the 6’8’’ swingman has even logged in his share of minutes at center. The result has been a bump up in his rebounding, perhaps at the expense of being exposed defensively and a decrease in the offensive looks he’s used to getting.
But this quintessential, high-energy player doesn’t complain and if the grade was solely based on effort, he gets an easy “A.”
There is no question about Turner’s talent. There are plenty of questions, however, when it comes to his confidence level. At times, it looks as if the inconsistent ET is ready to turn the corner and finally propel himself to elite status. It’s usually followed by a giant leap backward.
Case in point: A 25 point, 11 rebound performance directly followed by eight points on 2-of-7 shooting. Or a 19 point, nine assist showing directly followed 12 on 5-of-14 from the field.
If Turner can ever find a groove for an extended period of time, there’s no telling what this stat-stuffing, former second overall pick can accomplish.
The man affectionately known as Swaggy P finally found his swag on Tuesday when he dropped 23 on the Raptors. But aside from that performance, the man brought in to replace Lou Williams’ instant second-team offense has come up a bit short.
However, Young has made a career out of riding his waves of momentum. If he can get his shots to fall with more regularity, he should still be a valuable piece coming off the pine.
Last season, the second-round draft pick from neighboring Temple exceeded all expectations and was a key component to the Sixers’ equally surprising run to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
This season, he seems to have regressed a bit, too often lacking that inside toughness and soft shooting touch that allowed him to supplant fellow rookie Nik Vucevic in the rotation.
What I learned—far too often while I was in school—is that a “C” is given for an average performance. Well, that’s exactly what Allen has been thus far.
It seems at times that Hawes is in denial of how tall he is. At 7’1’’, he prefers to loiter around the perimeter, prefers finesse over muscle, the fadeaway over the post-up and, at least currently, the porn-star mustache over a beard.
Unfortunately, none of the above seem to be working so far.
Because of the absence of Andrew Bynum, coach Doug Collins has yet to try his Hawes-at-the-4 experiment, one that both parties would seem to prefer. But without another viable center, Spencer will have to readjust his game back to the one which he showed glimpses of last season, one that earned him a sweet new deal over the summer.
It's never good when a player who’s made a career of hitting jumpshots can’t seem to hit the ocean with a rock these days.
Shooting barely 30 percent from the field, Wright has lost favor in Collins’ rotation lately, playing no more than 15 minutes in four of his past five after averaging over 25 for his first seven.
Wright has one purpose to achieve for the Sixers: Hit the jumper. And the shorter he comes up, the shorter Collins’ leash will get.
By all accounts, a solid locker room guy, averaging close to 15 minutes a game is exposing the career journeyman.
A liability on the offensive side of the ball, his defense is not nearly good enough to compensate for those shortcomings.
What does it tell you when a woefully undersized squad can’t find a way to play a hulking center for extended minutes, if at all?
It tells you what we’ve learned for over a decade, since Michael Jordan reached to make Brown the first overall pick in the 2001 draft: He’s just not that good.
In other words, there’s a reason why Thad Young is forced to play the “5.”