T.J. McConnell – 6’2″ Guard
2017/18 Season Review
T.J.’s third season saw moments. It saw the cementation of T.J. the Knicks killer, both on Christmas and when he recorded his first career triple double against New York. McConnell brought along their number one pick Markelle Fultz in the locker room, and they became the first pair of teammates to have 10 points, rebounds, and assists off the bench in the same season. T.J. started in game four against the Celtics to help give the Sixers their only win in the series, further ingraining the legacy of Clutch McConnell.
He was there for the 10 win season, and he was there for the 52 win season. T.J.’s an immediate spawn from The Process and one of the last pieces of Sam’s original Ship of Theseus; in a 6’2″, 200 lb package of focused grit, Philadelphia couldn’t have asked for a better basketball folk-hero. Sixers fans saw T.J. grow as well. When our precious Timothy John entered the league, members of our own fanbase begrudgingly watched the offensively challenged guard struggle to manufacture offense for putrid process teams. The point guard eventually did find his way and carved a niche in the NBA he’ll continue to make a career out of.
McConnell averaged 6.3 points, 4.0 assists, and 22.4 minutes per game last year. Most importantly, he acquired the skill of hitting a wide open three: a trait he hadn’t possessed in the early process years. He shot 43.5% from behind the arc and proved he could play off the ball in the Sixers’ pass-centric offense. The team felt his impact beyond his counting stats. T.J.’s tenacious on-ball defense remains his trademark skill in the NBA, and his propensity to pick up a player full court stapled Philly’s love for him. McConnell can also provide a traditional point guard presence off the bench, as he can stabilize an offense when needed.
T.J.’s still T.J., but in what role? He’s played in limited minutes in Coach Brown’s rotation thus far. “I know what T.J. is,” Brett Brown said via NBC Sports.
Brown’s integrated a host of guard-types into the lineup during their preseason games, including Landry Shamet, Furkan Korkmaz, and the now injured Jerryd Bayless. T.J.’s averaged 11 minutes and 5 points per game this preseason, but one has to wonder how these minutes will reflect against his regular season role.
Performance and Predictions for the 2018/19 Season
T.J.’s best case is to emerge from the preseason as the team’s third guard, but the team already has four guards. Brown will have to shift more of Simmons’ minutes to the four for McConnell to snag more minutes, but the rotation will be tight. Considering Simmons, Redick, Fultz, McConnell, now Shamet, and eventually Zhaire Smith contending for minutes, the Sixers have a considerable amount of talent in the front court.
PhillyFrontOffice’s own Brian Jacobs reported the Sixers didn’t make extending McConnell’s contract a priority last offseason. The point guard’s expected to test the free agent market this offseason, and the Sixers may consider dealing him instead of letting his contract expire.
Wherever T.J. plays, he’ll have a role. Our former tank commander has proven to be a competent rotation player in a playoff rotation, and he’ll see success in 2018. On the Sixers, I’d expect him to see between 10 and 15 minutes per game with 5.3 points, 2.5 assists, and 1.4 steals per game. If a team wants to trade for him, they’d want to play him, so his numbers would likely increase.
The Sixers are light on the wing and may look to increase their value at forward if they need to. When you’re watching McConnell this season, just appreciate every loose ball dive more, because it may just be his last in a Sixers uniform. Regardless of where T.J. is at the end of this year, he’s undoubtedly earned a spot in the process hall of fame.
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|