Thank you so much for joining our season preview as we continue our way through Sixers preseason. Prior to the start of the regular season, we will bring you projections, offseason reviews, and predictions of every player on the Sixers’ roster. The regular season is almost upon us and there are some spots in the Sixers’ rotation that continue to be up for grabs. In our latest player spotlight, we highlight Mike Muscala, the 6th year Center from acquired in an offseason trade with Atlanta.
Mike Muscala 6’11” Center/Forward – Bucknell
2017/18 Season Review
A few things stand out immediately when you look at the year Muscala had in 2017 with the Atlanta Hawks. First is he set a career high in minutes played at 20 per contest. Second, his offensive and defensive ratings were good for a team that struggled to a 24-58 record.
Areas of Strength/Needs to Show Improvement
Muscala, who turned 27 over the summer, is a 6’11” center/power forward who has displayed real stretch capability in his 5 year NBA Career. The expectation is that Muscala will fill the Ersan Illyasova role in the Sixers’ rotation. Let’s look at how the two players compare statistically per 100 possessions. (per https://www.basketball-reference.com)
What stands out immediately is just how much more efficient Muscala is when compared to Ersan. Muscala has a true shooting percentage 5 points higher than Ilyasova with even more attempts from beyond the arc. This speaks to his shot selection and ability to play within the scheme of the offense. Even more encouraging, Muscala takes nearly 1/3rd of his 3 point attempts from the corners where he has been tremendously effective, shooting 49% on corner threes last season. His shot locations are nearly optimal for the role he is expected to have on the team.
Muscala is a willing defender and is not afraid to contest shots at the rim. What stands out is his willingness to get posterized for the sake of the team’s defense. This is not a guy who makes “business decisions” on the defensive end.
Muscala’s willingness to get in there and take away the easy dunk it’s very valuable. Many NBA defenders would avoid the poster opportunity.
— J Blevins (@JBlevins46) October 1, 2018
I think his anticipation and timing is still a work in progress as a shot blocker, but his athleticism and effort are evident.
Preseason Performance To Date
Muscala is doing a lot of good things in little ways to help the team so far in 20 minutes per game off the bench. His counting stats of 5 points and 7 rebounds with 1 steal and 0.5 blocks will not wow you, but he has been effective at spacing the floor and firing with no hesitation from three point land. It’s clear he has not had his number called on offense much yet, but he seems to be in the right spot and is adjusting to his teammates quite well. The corner 3 clearly looks to be a weapon for him, and his shot is clean despite having just made 1 of 7 attempts in 2 games. This is not at all a concern as his release has been quick and smooth. I see no indication to worry about his shooting.
You see Muscala on a pick and pop. His foot was deemed on the line so this is not technically a 3, but his range and spacing are evident.
Good things happen when big men run the floor. Muscala is there to clean up after a Fultz steal.
Performance and Predictions for the 2018/19 Season
It will be interesting to see if Muscala develops into the backup center position or if he continues to play the third center and backup power forward role. Either way, his fit on the team is nearly ideal offensively as an Ersan Ilyasova stretch 4/5. If his rim defense improves, there is a real chance that he takes over significant minutes for Amir Johnson. Assuming Joel Embiid rests 10 or so games this season, my guess is that Brett Brown will continue to rotate all three centers in the lineup much more than he did last year with Richuan Holmes.
Expectations around counting stats should be tempered. 20 minutes per game, 7 points and 5 rebounds, while shooting 38-40% from 3, would constitute a successful year of production for Muscala.
During media availability, Muscala talks about learning his role as both center and power forward in the Sixers’ schemes.
Editor’s Note: Beginning September 27 and continuing up until the start of the season, we will be profiling each member of the current 76ers’ roster. Be sure to check out our schedule below and hear what our writers expect from our Sixers players.
|September 27||Jonah Bolden||October 8||Wilson Chandler|
|September 29||Shake Milton||October 10||JJ Redick|
|September 30||Zhaire Smith||October 11||Robert Covington|
|October 1||Furkan Korkmaz||October 13||Dario Saric|
|October 3||Amir Johnson||October 14||Markelle Fultz|
|October 4||Mike Muscala||October 15||Ben Simmons|
|October 6||Landry Shamet||October 16||Joel Embiid|
|October 7||TJ McConnell|