One of the major areas of concern for the Philadelphia 76ers the past couple of seasons has been their point guard play.
Philadelphia has struggled mightily over the past three seasons as the 76ers have attempted to rebuild through the draft under former general manager Sam Hinkie. Known as trader Sam, Hinkie dealt away several veterans in order to obtain a plethora of draft picks that the Sixers hope will develop into stars such as Jahlil Okafor, Nerlens Noel, Joel Embiid, and Dario Saric.
The 76ers have gone 47-199 over the last three years and have used nine different point guards since trading away former first-round selection Michael Carter-Williams to the Milwaukee Bucks prior to the trade deadline during the 2014-15 season. The nine point guards the Sixers have used since trading Carter-Williams were Ish Smith, Isaiah Canaan, Kendall Marshall, T.J. McConnell, Tony Wroten, Alexy Schved, Tim Frazier, Phil Pressey, and Larry Drew II.
Philadelphia went 10-72 last year and finished 29th in scoring (97.4), 29th in shooting (43.1 percent), 20th in assists (21.5), and 29th in turnovers (15.6). The 76ers point guards last year were Smith, Canaan, Marshall, Wroten, Pressey, and McConnell.
Smith was the best of the bunch of point guards last year, averaging 14.7 points along with 7.0 assists and 4.3 assists in 50 games – the Sixers went 8-42 with Smith in the lineup. The 27-year-old struggles shooting the ball, making 40.5 percent of his shots from the field and 33.6 percent from beyond the arc. He is very quick but a little undersized.
Canaan is undersized and a shoot-first point guard. The 25-year-old is not a great shooter and is not a great ball handler or distributor. He averaged 11.0 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 1.8 assists while shooting 36.0 percent from the field, but he did shoot 36.3 percent from beyond the arc.
McConnell was a huge surprise. The six-foot-two point guard who went undrafted out of Arizona is an outstanding floor leader and gets into his man on the defensive end but is not a threat from beyond the arc. He averaged 6.1 points, 4.5 assists, and 3.1 rebounds while shooting 47.0 percent from the field along with 34.8 percent in three-point attempts last season.
Marshall struggled with injuries when he was on the floor last year. Wroten and Pressey were released during the season.
Philadelphia currently has six players with guaranteed contracts for the 2016-17 season worth a combined $24.5 million, according to Basketball Insiders. Carl Landry, Embiid, Okafor, Noel, Nik Stauskas, and Richaun Holmes are the players with guaranteed contracts. Marshall ($2.04 million), Robert Covington ($1.01 million), Jeremi Grant ($980,431), and McConnell ($874,636) have non-guaranteed contracts. Meanwhile, Hollis Thompson has a team option for $1.01 million.
Canaan and Christian Wood could be restricted free agents if they are tendered, qualifying off at $1.2 million and $1.04 million, respectively. Smith and Elton Brand are currently the Sixers’ only restricted free agents.
Grant and Covington most surely will return. Depending on what occurs in free agency, it is entirely possible Canaan, Smith, and Thompson will be back with the 76ers as well. Wood may also be back if the Sixers decide that he is worth trying to develop. There is a slim chance that McConnell will be on the 15-man roster, while Marshall and Brand are the least likely to return.
Will the Sixers be able to find their point guard of the future in this year’s draft or free agency?
The good news for 76ers is that there are several top point guards who will be unrestricted free agents come July 1 and several other restricted free agents. Mike Conley is the top free agent point guard, according to Hoop Rumors, but he will likely not be heading to Philadelphia anytime soon other than to play the Sixers during the season. Neither will Rajon Rondo or Brandon Jennings.
However, Liberty Ballers believes that there are six point guards who would look good in a 76ers’ uniform, starting with Jeremy Lin. D.J. Augustin, Matthew Dellavedova, Langston Galloway, and Mario Chalmers were other players the article gave as potential fits.
Lin is coming off a good season with the Charlotte Hornets, producing 11.7 Points along with 3.2 rebounds and 3.0 assists. The 27-year-old, who backed up Kemba Walker and made spot starts, likes to attack the rack but struggles from beyond the arc – he shot 33.6 percent on his three-point last year and is a career 34.6 percent shooter from long range. Lin is just an average defender but he does come up with a lot of steals.
Augustin is a very interesting case. He is fast, experienced, and has the capability to run an offense. The 28-year-old split time between Oklahoma City and Denver last year. Augustin is a very good distributor and doesn’t turn the ball over much. He can also knock down perimeter shots on a consistent basis though he is a below average defender.
Augustin averaged 7.5 points and 3.2 assists while shooting 42.3 percent from the field and 40.5 percent from beyond the arc last year.
Dellavadova is a feisty player who is a fantastic three-point shooter. The 25-year-old restricted free agent has struggled this postseason for Cleveland, but he had a fine regular season. Dellavedova averaged 7.5 points and 4.0 assists while shooting 41.0 percent from beyond the arc in the regular season.
Galloway is also a restricted free agent. He had a great rookie campaign two years ago with the New York but struggled a bit last season. He is perhaps the best defender of the group but is not a great shooter. Galloway played college ball at St. Joseph’s.
Chalmers revived his career in Memphis this season after being dealt to the Grizzlies by the Miami Heat. The 28-year-old averaged 10.8 points and 3.8 assists in over 22 minutes with the Griz this year. He possesses good hands but has trouble against quicker guards and has struggled the past two seasons with his long-distance shooting. Chalmers tore his Achilles in March.
Felton, 31, is a good distributor but is not the scorer he once was and was never a good shooter. He averaged 9.5 points, 3.6 assists, and 3.2 rebounds in 80 games with Dallas this past season. Felton has also always struggled on the defensive end.
Philadelphia has three first-round draft picks this year (No. 1, No. 24, and No. 26). The Sixers are expected to take LSU forward Ben Simmons, though they could go with Duke forward Brandon Ingram instead. There also has been rumors that the Sixers will trade either Jahlil Okafor or Nerlens Noel for another lottery selection, where they would presumably take either Providence guard Kris Dunn or Kentucky guard Jamal Murray.
One rumored trade that is not going to happen is Noel to Chicago for Derrick Rose, plus others.
Philadelphia has a wish list other than a point guard this offseason. The Sixers also could use shooters and help on the wings.
Chad Ford of ESPN has Philadelphia taking Ben Simmons, Washington point guard Dejounte Murray, and UNLV shooting guard Patrick McGraw in the first round. Paul Banks and David Kay of Walter Football has the Sixers taking Simmons, Notre Dame point guard Demetrius Jackson, and Vanderbilt guard Wade Baldwin. Mike Elworth of Walter Football has them taking Kentucky point guard Tyler Ulis and North Carolina power forward Brice Johnson in addition to Simmons.
[Photo by Chuck Burton/Associated Press]