By Theodore N. Beitchman
This is a memo to all the Sixers-haters who are jumping off the ledge or the bandwagon a week after the brooming of big boss Bryan Colangelo, fired because he either promulgated team secrets on Twitter or he allowed his wife to do so.
Get a grip!
No NBA free agent — let alone LeBron James — gives a rat’s ass who the general manager is. And coach Brett Brown’s sterling rep around the league will hold the Sixers in good sted for the draft and free agency, which begins on July 1.
There are so many misconceptions floating around Sixers Nation, thanks to the lame-ass Amy Fadool and Marc Farzetta and CrossingBroad.com — that I feel compelled to set you straight.
When the Sixers ran off 16 straight wins to end the regular season — eight of them without the injured Joel Embiid — lots of the above-named dopes filled your heads with sugar plums about visions of the NBA Finals.
That’s called hyping for the clicks/numbers/ratings.
In fact, 16 straight wins is impressive, no matter who you’re playing, even if the oppo is the Little Sisters of the Poor, which was the Sixers’ sked as the season wound down.
And 52 wins is damn impressive, too, especially coming on the heels of 28 and 10 in the prior two seasons.
So let’s dig deep into the Sixers now and what they may be next year and beyond.
Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons are worth-the-wait superstars in the making. Their maturity in 2018-19 will come naturally — Embiid will be in better shape and ditch the mask that impeded his vision during the playoffs; and Benny will develop a shot to go with the rest of his Magic-like game.
Remember, Magic Johnson never had a jump shot, only a shot-put-like set shot, and his career turned out okay.
Dario Saric is a wonder, and has been since he left Europe and came to Philly for the 2016-17 season. He’s a combo of Tom Heinsohn toughness, Luke Jackson offensive rebounding and Larry Bird court sense and passing. He also has improved his 3-point prowess that makes him even more dangerous.
Robert Covington is a mystery, inside a riddle, wrapped in an enigma. I have always loved Roco since he came to Philly in 2014 after walking on as an undrafted free agent in Houston. He has a big shot, but it’s erratic, witness his performance against the Celtics in the playoffs. And he is a great defensive player, witness his presence on the NBA’s All Defensive first team. But he was a non-event against the Celtics in the playoffs, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him packaged in a trade, perhaps for Kahwi Leonard.
I also love T. J. McConnell, who probably makes fewer mistakes per minute on the court than anyone else in the NBA. He’s another walk-on, and he has developed a low-key swag that comes from his big balls. He drives into the lane, and for some reason this little guy has been effective doing that. Plus, he’s not afraid to take a shot when the clock is winding down.
The jury is out on Markelle Fultz, but if I were on that jury I would be leaning toward being impressed by the 19-year-old who missed 68 games due to injuries and played the last 10 games of the regular season with a taste in the Heat series. Only time will tell, but I have high hopes that this kid will be a contributor for many years to come. Maybe more than a contributor.