By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)
On Friday, I covered things that would be considered positives from the 2014-15 Sixers season. Now, let’s discuss the flip side of that coin, as it’s obviously not all sunshine and roses down on South Broad St. When bringing up the negatives of this past campaign, I’m not talking about the 64 losses, because frankly, that may have been less than Hinkie and company were hoping for heading into the season. Instead, these are the areas which proved to be the biggest disappointments in my opinion.
Michael Carter-Williams Not Being the Franchise Point Guard
In just his second NBA season, MCW played and started in his first career playoff game over the weekend. It had to be a little jarring for Sixers fans to see it happen with him in a Milwaukee Bucks uniform. Now, I’m not saying the trade to send him to Milwaukee in return for the Lakers’ protected 1st-rounder was a bad one. I understand all the concerns about MCW’s shooting and whether his ceiling is a point guard on a true contender. Plus, the Lakers pick still has a 17% chance of going to the Sixers this year with what would be an excellent pick, and there’s every reason to believe LA will be terrible again next year when the pick is only top 3-protected.
Still, it was just overall a sad end to what began as such a promising beginning to a Sixers career. After he dropped 22 points, 7 rebounds, 12 assists, and 9 steals in his NBA debut, defeating the world champion-Miami Heat, Sixers fans were ready to anoint Carter-Williams as a future hall-of-famer. He went on to have plenty of ups and downs over his rookie season, but despite the poor shooting and the high number of turnovers, it still culminated in the Rookie of the Year award and an abundant amount of optimism for the future.
Ultimately, it may have been his shoulder injury that prevented MCW from having a long career as the Sixers’ point guard. Thanks to his busted wing, Carter-Williams was unable to do any sort of offseason shooting program. Maybe Brett Brown and his staff could have made some strides to correct his shot, or at the very least, helped him far enough along that Hinkie wouldn’t have been so quick to cut the cord. So while I’m not saying they made the wrong move to cut the cord so quickly with Carter-Williams, the fact the entire relationship didn’t ultimately work out has to be a huge disappointment for the Sixers.
The Nerlens Noel as Power Forward Experiment
Just 10 days ago, I did a full breakdown of Noel’s numbers taking a nosedive when playing the power forward position, so I won’t rehash that entire argument here. However, once again, here is the chart showing how much less effective Noel became away from the center position.
The Sixers need the Embiid-Noel pairing to work if this turnaround is going to have any sort of immediate timeline. Hopefully, Joel Embiid will allow Noel as a 4 to work much better than Henry Sims or Furkan Aldemir did, but the early returns were not promising.
The entire K.J. McDaniels situation
A fan favorite during his half season with the Sixers, McDaniels all the earmarks of an exciting young for the team to look at during a rebuild: incredible athleticism, some raw parts of his game for the coaching staff to build on, and a mom entertaining enough in the stands to get national attention. Unfortunately, after McDaniels had decided not to sign Sam Hinkie’s team-friendly contract before the season, he was only available on the 1-year deal and the Sixers GM decided to get value for him while he could, shipping him to old buddy Daryl Morey in Houston.
While Isaiah Canaan and a 2nd-rounder for a guy who is a restricted free agent this summer is a fair deal, I would have liked to see McDaniels somehow remain in the fold. His blocks were the stuff of legend (he allegedly blocked a ball so hard he gave a fan a concussion), he had all the tools to one day become an elite defensive player on the perimeter, and with his leaping ability around the rim, you salivated at the idea of him finishing in transition. Sure, he shot only 29.3% from three as a rookie, but there was still plenty to like as far as K.J.’s potential. After he played a total of 33 minutes in Houston, his market value has certainly deflated quite a bit. I’d like to live in a world where Hinkie makes an offer for him and he returns to the Sixers. I need more of this in my life:
Furkan Aldemir Bringing a Fun Name to the Table, but Not Much Else
Sure, we all love to say things like ‘that was a great Furkan dunk’, but when it comes down to it, Aldemir’s first stint with the team has to be a bit of a disappointment. Needing to get him over from Turkey, the team signed Aldemir to a 4-year, close to $12M deal, actually making him one of the higher-paid players on the team at around $3M per year. Sure, the Sixers have plenty of cap space so it’s not a big deal, and the last two years aren’t fully guaranteed, but it’s debatable whether Aldemir even belongs in the NBA at this point.
Let’s start with the positives. First, he’s an excellent rebounder; his 17.4 REB% was second on the team behind Thomas Robinson. He was also one of the better screeners on the team. However, we’ve now reached the end of the positives. Aldemir has no offensive game to speak of, is not a quick enough defender to effectively guard pick-and-rolls, and does not possess the athleticism to function as a rim protector. The Sixers had a net rating 3 points better with on the bench than on the floor. Even though he’s signed for a guaranteed $2.8M next year, it might be time for the Sixers to Furkan move on.