Nik Stauskas Needs to Prove He Belongs

by Daniel Friedberg (@danfriedberg)

Most players earn their nicknames because of how they look when the play: the Glide, the Matrix, Air Jordan, and the Round Mound of Rebound. But in today’s technological zeitgeist, a mere, quirky closed captioning error can dub someone, and the internet handles the rest. In a moment, Nik Stauskas was Sauce Castillo. And not to squander the opportunity, a new business venture appeared, and a new spokesman was born.

When Stauskas was drafted #8 by Sacramento in the 2014 NBA Draft, it wasn’t considered much of a stretch following projections of #10 on and #12 on Stauskas had just come off a sophomore season at Michigan putting up 17.5 points per game and shooting 44% from deep, increasing his points per game average by 6.5 from his freshman year and mirroring his three-point percentage. Nik was primed to bring that robotic long ball to Sacramento and give oft-maligned behemoth Boogie Cousins that sorely needed floor spacer.

Remember this incredible glimpse into the Kings front office? Vivek Ranadive made an entire room of grown men feel uncomfortable by prompting a unified “Nik Rocks!” chant. The overly meddlesome franchise owner got his man, after scoffing at a Sam Hinkie offer for the 76ers’ #10 pick and two 2nd rounders for the #8 pick (potentially targeting Stauskas).

Stauskas’ disappointing rookie year was easily written off due to an unstable front office, replete with a rotating door at the top coaching position. Nik had three head coaches in his first season: Mike Malone, Tyrone Corbin, and George Karl. Combine that turmoil with a notoriously immature, high maintenance player in Cousins, and you’ve got a recipe for underperformance. When Vlade Divac was given full control, Sam Hinkie saw a trembling, wide-eyed fawn, and pounced. The trade was widely considered one of the most lopsided transactions in recent NBA history.

It was a fresh start for Stauskas, on a team where he’d have an opportunity to start. At the time of the trade, the excitement was more about the Kings seemingly giving away Stauskas for nothing, but then saying, “Here! Take more!”. When Nik hit the very first shot he took as a 76er, and Sixers PA announcer Matt Cord proudly exclaimed “Sauuuuuce Castilllllloooooo!”, the jubilation hit its apex. His underwhelming rookie performance was really a product of his environment. He was actually a good player if not for that Demarcus Cousins incessantly putting him down and destroying his confidence. That was a thrilling few minutes.

Because then, Stauskas struggled yet again in his sophomore season, finishing with 8.5 ppg and shooting a barely improved percentage from three (32.6% compared to 32.2% as a rookie). Naturally, it becomes problematic when a guy whose primary NBA skill is shooting can’t really, you know…shoot.

So what happened? It isn’t due to a lack of effort or a lack of athleticism either, which was always a known quantity coming out of college. It’s more that even when he had wide-open looks from behind the arc, he only knocked them down at a 36.1% clip last season. His recent Summer League performance (albeit only two games), where he shot just 35% from the field when he should be dominating as a 3rd-year player, did not inspire much hope either.

Although the 76ers are still weakest in the backcourt, their recent free agent acquisitions of Jerryd Bayless, Gerald Henderson, and Sergio Rodriguez have created a roster crunch. The 76ers may have to choose between Stauskas and Hollis Thompson. Stauskas is still on his rookie contract with a club option in 2017-18. Yet, Thompson is cheaper and has a career average of 39.1% shooting from three, which ostensibly makes him a better compliment at this stage to Ben Simmons. But the Hollis you get is the Hollis that will remain – a fringe NBA player at best, with considerable physical limitations. In maintaining the Hinkie spirit of upside and taking the long view, I think Stauskas is the correct choice.

Nik was once described as a fierce competitor, firing up shots without hesitation. At the NBA level, we simply haven’t seen that same player. Even if he makes the final roster, this season could be make-or-break for the former Michigan star. If Stauskas doesn’t turn things around, he could end up making more money going forward selling hot sauce than playing basketball.

USA Grabs Gold, Sergio and Spain the Bronze

By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)

The last few games of the group stage were shaky for Team USA, as they found themselves in a string of close games, including what was just a 3-point victory over Sunday’s opponent, Serbia. Yet, after blowing out Argentina in the quarterfinals, and doing just enough to hold off Spain in the semifinals, the American squad left no doubt about who was the best team in the world, playing their best game of the tournament to blow out Serbia 96-66 and win the gold.

Team USA was led by Kevin Durant, who scored a game-high 30 points, matching his 30 points from the gold medal game in the 2012 Olympics. Durant knocked down 5 of his 11 attempts from behind the three-point line; it’s simply unguardable for a 7-footer to bring the ball up and immediately pull up from 25 feet with one of the sweetest strokes we’ve ever seen on a basketball court.

DeMarcus Cousins added 13 points and a game-high 15 rebounds, as both he and DeAndre Jordan did a much better job against Serbia’s big man pairing of Nikola Jokic and Miroslav Raduljica. Those two combined for just 13 points after going off for more than 40 in the previous meeting between the two teams.

In his final Olympic tournament as head coach, Coach K made some good adjustments along the way. The swap of Jordan into the starting lineup for Cousins was a necessary move, allowing Jordan to help protect the back line behind the poor defense of Kyrie Irving and Carmelo Anthony, while Cousins could take on more of a scoring role with the second unit. He also gradually gave more time to guys like Paul George, Kyle Lowry, and Jimmy Butler, players who were willing to play defense and assume more of a secondary role on offense, rather than just having five guys out there best served with the ball in their hands.

Although it wasn’t anywhere close to the domination of the Dream Team, the United States still proved they’re far and away the best international team in the world. Given LeBron’s comments about how great it would be to play for Pop in 2020, we may see an even more unstoppable squad in Tokyo. Hopefully, someone rises up to serve as a worthy adversary to the Americans. Maybe Ben Simmons and Dante Exum joining an Australian team that just missed out on a medal in 2016?

Sergio Rodriguez and Spain Win Bronze

Speaking of Australia, they were denied that bronze medal in part due to the efforts of new Sixers point guard Sergio Rodriguez. With 5 seconds left and the Boomers down a single point, Rodriguez drove the lane and drew this foul against Patty Mills.

It does technically look to be a foul with Mills not holding his ground with the right leg, but tough call to go against him in the deciding moments of the game. Still, Rodriguez came up clutch by draining both free throws to put Spain ahead 89-88. The Australians were unable to score on the ensuing possession, leaving El Chacho’s free throws as the bronze medal-winning points. For Rodriguez, it was his second Olympic medal after winning silver in London in 2012.

For the game, Rodriguez finished with 11 points on 4-11 shooting and a team-high 5 assists against just 1 turnover. All 11 of his points came in the fourth quarter, as clearly, Spain had no problem having the ball in his hands in key moments. On a 1-year deal with the Sixers, the stakes likely won’t ever be as high for Sergio in Philadelphia as an Olympic medal being on the line. Still, it’s good for the young guys to have a veteran around who has proven to be unflappable in tight, late-game situations.

The Sixers may not have obtained that point guard of the future this past offseason that many fans were hoping they would. However, the arrival of Sergio Rodriguez and Jerryd Bayless should make for a marked improvement at the position over the upcoming season.

Croatia and Spain Both Advance to Quarterfinals

By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)

Monday concluded the group stage action for men’s basketball in Rio. It was a particularly tense time in Group B, as all 6 participants entered the day technically still alive to advance to the quarterfinals as one of the top-4 teams.

Perennial powerhouse Spain could have been eliminated from the competition with a loss to Argentina, but instead looked dominant for the second straight game, easily defeating Manu Ginobili and his compatriots 92-73.

Future Sixer Sergio Rodriguez played 21 minutes off the bench, notching 5 points and 6 assists (against 5 turnovers). In 5 group stage contests, El Chacho averaged 7.2 points, while shooting 36.4% from the field and 8-21 (38.1%) from three. He also averaged 4.8 assists in just over 20 minutes of action per game.

For their trouble of finishing second in Group B, Spain will take on France Wednesday afternoon at 1:30pm est. Whoever advances will take on the winner of the United States and Argentina.

Although they entered the day with a top-4 spot clinched, Croatia could have finished anywhere from first to fourth depending on Monday’s outcome. Like Spain, Croatia stepped up to the challenge with a convincing 90-81 victory over Lithuania.

Dario Saric was excellent with 18 points on 7-12 shooting, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists in a team-high 38 minutes. He once again showed off the similarities in his and Ben Simmons’ game with this coast-to-coast lay-in.

Saric finished group play second on the team in scoring at 12.8 ppg, shooting 43.1% from the field and 5-19 (26.3%) from three. He led the team in rebounding at 7.2 per game, a mark which ranks 4th in the tournament behind Pau Gasol, Ike Diogu, and Luis Scola. Saric was also 2nd on the team in assists at 3.6 per night, backing up everything we’ve come to know about his outstanding play-making ability.

Croatia will play Serbia Wednesday night at 9:15pm est. The winner of that game will face the winner of Australia and Lithuania.

Dario Saric vs. Carmelo Anthony and Team USA in a gold medal game? We could be less than a week away.

NBA Releases 2016-17 Schedules

By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)

With first overall pick Ben Simmons, Croatian star Dario Saric, and a healthy Joel Embiid all set to take the court this season, Sixers front office executives and fans alike have made it clear they view this as the start of a new era. Apparently, the NBA scheduling committee agrees, as the Sixers will be nationally televised five times this season. Per Brian Seltzer, the last time the Sixers appeared on national television (non-NBA TV) was during the 2012-13 season.

The Sixers will take the big stage right from the get-go, as the opening game of the season is an ESPN-televised clash with Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City on October 26th in Philadelphia. With Kevin Durant’s highly-publicized departure to Golden State, Westbrook is expected to be out for blood all season long. Some people are claiming it’s not out of the question for him to flirt with averaging a triple-double; I personally can’t wait to see a well-rested Westbrook start to unleash that fury and the young Sixers do everything in their power to stop him.

Of course, the opener is just 1 of 82. The other nationally televised games are November 17th at Minnesota on TNT, December 16th versus the Lakers on ESPN, and November 7th vs. Utah and November 14th at Houston on NBA TV. The 5 nationally-televised games are actually the 2nd-fewest in the NBA (only ahead of Orlando); but hey, progress!

The Sixers will play 17 of those brutal back-to-backs this season. The NBA has made a concerted effort to drop the total number of back-to-backs; teams’ numbers range between 14 to 18 this season. Although the Sixers are toward the high end with that, according to calculations made by Ed Kupfer, they will have the 4th-fewest amount of miles traveled over the course of the year. Philadelphia is also one of only ten teams not to have to play 4 games in 5 days at any point.

You can check out the full Sixers schedule, but here are some of the other key home contests:

– LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers will flash their world champion rings in Philadelphia November 5th and 27th.

– The Bizarro Sixers (Minnesota) come to town on January 3rd, showing what the Sixers roster could look like if not for some lottery misfortune.

– The Clippers take the Wells Fargo Center floor on January 24th; will they still provide their annual beatdown with all the new faces on the Sixers roster?

– Kevin Durant and the Golden State superteam everyone will love to hate will bring their show to South Broad on February 27th. Fortunately, this time around Harrison Barnes won’t be there to hit a game-winning three at the buzzer.

Other notes:

– Cleveland, Charlotte, Detroit, and Washington are the four Eastern Conference teams the Sixers only play three times.

– Oddly, the usually-exhausting Disney on Ice road trip is only 4 games this year. The Sixers do have two 5-game road trips, from 1/29-2/6 and 3/20-3/28. They also have one 5-game homestand from 11/19 to 11/27.

However you want to slice it though, it’s 41 at home and 41 on the road leading up to the season finale on April 12th at the Knicks. Sixers fans probably don’t care who is on the opposite end of the floor; they just want to see Simmons, Saric, and Embiid make their NBA debuts. They’ll get a little taste when the preseason begins October 4th against Boston. a town Nerlens Noel has made clear he loves. But the real fireworks begin October 26th; make sure to clear your calendar and batten down the hatches for Hurricane Russ’s arrival.

The Summer of George

By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)

After colliding with a stanchion and suffering a horrific broken leg during a Team USA scrimmage in August 2014, nobody would have blamed Paul George if he had soured on the international team experience. “Love of country” only goes so far when what’s essentially a volunteer activity takes a year off a man’s career. Instead though, George rehabbed vigorously enough to warrant his own HGTV show, putting forth an impressive 2015-16 campaign that culminated in the Pacers star being tabbed the Comeback Player of the Year by NBA players last week.

Now, George is carrying that momentum down to Rio. Having crawled through a metaphorical 500 yards of human waste and come out clean, George offered words of encouragement to French gymnast Ait Said, who suffered a similarly gruesome leg injury while competing on the vault Saturday. He’s also more than handling his business on the court. Through two games, it’s shaping up that when we look back on these 2016 Olympic Games, while we made not think of George as Team USA’s best player (the NBA’s newest villain Kevin Durant can claim that honor), we may think of him as this squad’s most memorable one.

Being utilized in a super-sub role by Coach K, George dropped 15 points in the Group A opener against China, before going off for a game-high 20 points yesterday against Venezuela, shooting 6-7 from the field and 3-4 from three. Standing at 6’9″ with close to a 7-foot wingspan, there are few opposing big men on the international scene against whom George can’t match up. However, he also possesses the quickness to lock down opposing point guards if need by, as he did for long stretches of the contest against China. That positional flexibility makes him an ideal fit for the up-tempo, blitzing style Team USA has terrorized opponents with in this tournament. George has become the modern, supersized version of the Andre Iguodala swiss army knife from past squads, with a much better 3-point shot to boot.

However, while Iguodala is more known for doing the little things within the margins that often go unnoticed, Paul George has those superstar moments which are bound to jump out at you. For instance, this play against Venezuela where he showed he’s as physically imposing a presence as anyone on the floor:

George even found the time to offer the comic relief of the night (non-Harrison Barnes gaffe edition):

The man is locked into the game; he cannot spare the mental energy to toss away his own cup!

George was even a (somewhat) good sport after getting his ankles broken by Chinese guard Zhao Jiwei, probably the lone moment through two games where he wasn’t crushing the opposition.

Having tossed aside the two pushovers in their group, Team USA now hits the part of their schedule where the opposition should offer a modicum of resistance, starting Wednesday against an Australian team that has already notched quality wins against France and Serbia. If this first week is any indication, Paul George will continue to be a huge part of Team USA’s quest for gold.

I proclaim this…the Summer of George!

Dario Saric Block Stymies Spain

By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)

Team USA is expected to steamroll over its competition on its way to Olympic gold, so if basketball fans are looking for some competitive game action, they have to look elsewhere. Fortunately for Sixers fans, the team just so happens to have two players representing their countries. Croatia’s Dario Saric and Spain’s Sergio Rodriguez faced off in their Rio opener Sunday afternoon, undoubtedly providing a huge bump in ratings in the tri-state area.

Many fans knew the name, and maybe even watched the YouTube highlights, but these Olympics provided a lot of people the first opportunity to watch Dario Saric live in game action. By the end of 40 minutes, it’s safe to say the people of Philadelphia came away with some warm and fuzzy feelings for the soon-to-be rookie forward.

After banging knees and literally limping off the court moments before, Saric didn’t miss any time and hit one of two free throws to put Croatia up by two in the closing seconds. That sequence set the stage for this bit of heroics:

That’s Dario Saric blocking Pau Gasol, 6-time All-Star and NBA champion, who also scored a game-high 26 points on 11-17 shooting to become the top European scorer in Olympic basketball history. But I bet he woke up this morning really wishing he had scored 28.

Late-game heroics aside, Saric shot just 1-7 from the floor, including 0-4 from three and 3-6 from the foul line. Saric made a little of strides improving his shot over the last year, but it’s clearly still a work in progress. Still, he did tie a team-high with 7 rebounds and record a team-high 5 assists. He was even played some time at center, which is not what I think people meant when they said he’d be out of position at small forward, but he fought the good fight.

His court vision is just incredible for a guy his size though. Check out some of these passes:

Saric and Simmons are going to do make sweet music together come this fall.

There was another soon-to-be Sixer on the court, and Sergio Rodriguez did not disappoint. Although he went 3-11 from the floor (the Sixers are not going to solve their shooting woes next season), Rodriguez did drop a game-high 7 assists. The 30-year-old displayed a comfort playing both on or off the ball, a flexibility that will work well sharing the court with Ben Simmons.

He also had some highlight-worthy dimes. The Sixers are just going to need some guys to finish shots after all these gorgeous passes come their way next season.

All in all, it was an incredibly fun and entertaining contest between two future Sixers. Hopefully, we’ll be able to catch a rematch when these two teams advance out of the group stage. Both countries are back in action Tuesday.

Jerry Colangelo on The Vertical Podcast

By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)

The number-one enemy of hardcore Process trusters and current advisor to the 76ers, Jerry Colangelo was a guest on the Vertical Podcast with Chris Mannix Tuesday. The conversation mostly discussed Team USA as we gear up for the Olympic Games in Rio. but the two also touched on Colangelo’s role with the Sixers and how it might conflict with his position with Team USA.

Colangelo had this to say on the subject:

“Well, there were some people in the league, owners, friends of mine, who got a little nervous that I was going to use that platform to my advantage. And those who knew me a little bit more intimately knew that would never be the case.”

“You know, I told Pop, if you think I had a problem, can you imagine the problem you’re gonna have when you’re coaching all these guys? We live in a competitive world, and in the NBA everyone is as nervous as you could be, and everyone’s looking for an edge, and everyone’s concerned about everyone else’s edge.”

“But I didn’t let any of that bother me. I haven’t done anything different than I ever had, and that’s over a decade now, and part of the reason we’re successful is because I do it the way I do.”

Quite a few Sixers fan have speculated that the combination of Colangelo and the world-class traning facility being built in Camden would make an attractive pitch for superstar free agents embedded within the Team USA pipeline. As you would expect, Colangelo didn’t exactly give anything away in his response to Mannix. But there definitely weren’t even any hints for Sixers fans to grab a hold of as far as helping the team down the road.

Interestingly, Mannix also asked Colangelo about Sam Hinkie’s departure:

“Are you okay with how that whole Sixers situation kinda went down, with you taking over in a role there? Sam Hinkie resigns, it sorta, it became a national story for a while what was going on in Philadelphia. When you look back at the last six months or so there, how do you feel about what went down?”

Here was Colangelo’s answer to that query:

“Well, I think everyone may have opinions about what transpired and I would just say that I was surprised and taken back when Sam stepped down and how he stepped down. When I was hired, it was basically to advise as to what might be done to go forward with the franchise, because it was in dire straits at the time. So I never anticipated that kind of an outcome, but that’s what took place.”

Again, I think when members of the Sixers front office talk about how they were surprised Hinkie resigned, they can’t truly believe it. Management was talking about bringing in someone else at the same level as Hinkie, essentially stripping him of his power, after marginalizing him by degrees ever since Jerry Colangelo’s arrival.

As for the dire straits comment, it reminds me of how some mainstream media members who were talking about what a disaster the Sixers were six months ago are now saying the team is so well-positioned now, as if being bad to get someone like Ben Simmons wasn’t the plan all along. It wouldn’t surprise me if Jerry actually believes he and his son came in and really turned things around, when in reality, everything that has happened since Hinkie’s resignation were a result of plans he had already set into motion.

Basically, nothing Colangelo said here made me think any more positively about him. Still, for some interesting Team USA talk, be sure to listen to the whole interview with Mannix.

Scott O’Neil: “We’re not going to be impatient”

By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)

This week, the Democratic National Convention has shone the national spotlight on the city of Philadelphia. In his speech Tuesday night, former president Bill Clinton called wife and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary a change-maker. Wednesday afternoon, Sixers CEO Scott O’Neil indicated that a change in course is not in the cards for the city’s NBA franchise moving forward.

O’Neil was at the DNC, and in an interview with FOXBusiness, touched on a few different topics, including the city itself and the Sixers-themed wine series. However, but one bit was relevant to the Sixers and the current line of thinking in the team’s front office.

“We’re not going to be impatient and we’re going to build this for the long haul,” O’Neil said. “This is not known for being a patient market, but we have the best fans in the world.”

When former GM Sam Hinkie was effectively forced out of his position, many Sixers fans worried that new front office decision-maker Bryan Colangelo would do everything in his power to reverse course and bring the team back to mediocrity as quickly as possible. Yet, draft night and the better part of free agency have come and gone, and Colangelo has made calculated, low risk moves with an eye toward the future, continuing to build from the ground up. As a result, even the majority of Hinkie supporters, while still Process Trusters for life, have begrudgingly come around in regard to the younger Colangelo.

O’Neil’s latest comments provide additional credence that the foundation Hinkie built in his time here will not be torn down in instant. Though the man himself may be gone, his words, “One part courage, two parts patience” still appear to be an underlying principle for the franchise he left behind. For Sixers fans, that’s a lack of change we can all believe in.

Dion Waiters Heading to Miami

By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)

One of the last remaining bits of free agency news dropped Monday afternoon with the scoop that former Oklahoma City guard Dion Waiters will be taking his talents to South Beach.

For Miami, the signing represents a terrific, buy-low option on a player who performed very well in the playoffs last season for the Thunder. Waiters is still just 24 years old, and with an established organization like the Heat, and a coach with a championship pedigree in Erik Spoelstra, it might be the perfect environment for him to continue to develop along the right path.

For Waiters, this offseason has been a disaster. There had been talk last winter that he expected to receive a max contract from somebody this summer. While that belief was probably misguided, most people did expect him to receive a year salary in 8 digits. At the very least, he could have accepted Oklahoma City’s qualifying offer of $6.8M and earned more than twice as much this summer.

Now, he’ll look to show that the last couple months of the 2015-16 season weren’t a fluke, and the “new Dion Waiters” has matured and is ready to play within the confines of the team’s system. Presumably, he’ll look to boost his value and opt out next summer when the cap rises again even further.

Finally, Sixers fans can breathe a sign of relief that the last guy the team was linked to this offseason has officially signed elsewhere. One of the biggest fears coming into this summer was that Bryan Colangelo would use the team’s abundance of cap space and lavish big money on an as-to-yet undeserving player like Waiters. Instead, Colangelo continued to stay the course in remaining financially prudent.

It would seem the the current roster is the one the Sixers will roll with heading into the 2016-17 season, with the notable exception involving whatever trade does or does not happen involving Nerlens Noel and/or Jahlil Okafor. For many Philadelphia fans, Dion Waiters represented the last obstacle in 2016 free agency, and Bryan Colangelo appears to have navigated the course correctly.

Sixers to Sign NC State Star Cat Barber

By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)

Well, they did it. The Sixers went out and grabbed a former star guard from the ACC. However, it wasn’t Syracuse alum Dion Waiters, but instead, former NC State Wolfpack point guard Anthony “Cat” Barber:

The deal is not yet official, as a signing would put the Sixers over the 20-man offseason roster limit.

Candidates to release and make room for Barber include other players in partially guaranteed deals in Shawn Long, James Webb III, and Brandon Paul, and Kendall Marshall who is on a non-guaranteed contract.

The 6’3″ Barber will turn 22 years old in a few days. He was projected as a late second-round pick after deciding to leave following his junior year at NC State, but wound up undrafted. Barber played 4 summer league games with New Orleans, averaging 6.3 points, 1.3 rebounds, and 0.5 assists in 11.6 minutes per contest.

During his three years in Raleigh, Barber shot 42.8% from the field and 34.7% from three. Last season was his breakout campaign, as Barber averaged 23.5 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 4.5 assists per game, on his way to a 1st-team All-ACC selection.

Barber hails from Hampton, Virginia, same as Sixers legend Allen Iverson, so those comparisons have naturally always followed him. Although he’s not even close to the same league talent-wise as the soon-to-be Hall-of-Famer, their games are similar stylistically. Here’s an excerpt from his DraftExpress scouting report:

“Barber’s professional potential starts with his speed and ability to use it with the ball in his hands, as he is easily one of the quickest players in this draft class. Few defenders can stay in front of him off the dribble, as he possesses high end speed, great acceleration and impressive shiftiness while in motion. He can stop and cut in an instant to lose his defender off the dribble.”

Of course, with any point guard brought into Philadelphia, people are going to wonder how he fits with Ben Simmons. At least based on what he did in college, Barber would not appear to be an ideal pairing with the first overall pick. Also from DraftExpress:

“Barber was the engine of the N.C. State offense, having the ball in his hands a majority of the time and always looking to create shots. Most of his offensive possessions ended with him creating offense for himself off the dribble, with almost 75% of his shots coming from isolation, pick and roll or transition opportunities as logged by Synergy Sports Technology.”

“Defensively, Barber has made some improvements, but doesn’t project to be a big impact player. He’s shown more of a commitment defensively this season, communicating to his teammates and sliding his feet more effectively guarding the ball. He can be lackadaisical at times defensively, not fighting hard through screens or taking the best route off the ball, relying on his speed to cover mistakes. He doesn’t have the length to contest jump shots or the strength to ward off dribble penetration, limiting his overall potential.”

Like Simmons, Barber appears to be a guy who needs to ball in his hands a lot to make an impact offensively. Defensively, you would want the guard alongside Simmons to be a lock-down defender, which Barber never projects to be according to scout consensus.

From the look of things, Cat Barber would appear to be another training camp body destined for an eventual spot with the 87ers. However, this time last year we were all saying the same thing about T.J. McConnell. Granted, it was a different set of circumstances with much fewer established veterans on the roster, but sometimes, all guys need is a chance to show what they can do. Barber will have his shot.