Mike Scott was perhaps an afterthought in the Tobias Harris trade. The Sixers acquired “Tobi and Bobi” and Mike Scott in exchange for Landry Shamet, Wilson Chandler, and Mike Muscala. At the time of the trade, many would have considered Scott and Chandler somewhat of a wash from a value standpoint. But in his first 13 games as a Sixer, Scott has proved tremendously valuable.
Scott has been called on to play multiple roles for this team including that of Chandler’s 3/4 and Muscala’s stretch 4/5. It is fairly clear that he has outperformed both of those players in his short time with the team on both ends.
“It’s fun to go out and compete – center, power forward, point forward. I just want to win, whatever it takes,” said Scott Sunday evening.
Due to the injuries to Joel Embiid and Boban Marjanovic, Scott has had to play small ball stretch 5 at various times. At just 6’8″ 237 lb, Scott is undersized for this role on defense but uses leverage and strength and sheer force of will to guard some opposing bigs in the post. In a game recently against Orlando, he was a key part of a center rotation, along with Amir Johnson and Justin Patton, that held Nic Vucevic to just 5-15 shooting and 12 points.
Scott is able to get low and plant his feet deep in the post to make larger players really feel his weight.
When called on to play the power forward role, he is more involved in the switching scheme with more mixed results. The miscommunication with Jimmy Butler, for example, was a case of two players making different reads on the same screen. Scott chose to stick with Robin Lopez, and Butler switched onto Lopez leaving Zach Lavine a wide open lane to seal the victory.
This kind of miscommunication has a lot of inputting factors. Some of it is adjustment to new teammates, some to a new scheme and rules, some terminology, and possibly just loss of focus and a simple mistake.
But after Sunday afternoon’s game, Scott expressed the essence of what he brings to the team.
“Make them uncomfortable. It’s always a great feeling, get stops. Joel was great in his first game back.”
Not Getting Punked
“I just feel like we manned up. One of the coaches said that last time, they kind of punked us in the second half. I just kept thinking about that, just not gonna get punked, just always gonna stay physical,” remarked Scott after Sunday’s win against Indiana which vaulted the Sixers into third place in the Eastern Conference.
This is a theme that Ben Simmons had mentioned a number of times early in the season – a general lack of toughness on the team. Scott, for one, seems to have embraced that new mindset.
Scott is particularly useful on the offensive end. A very competent shooter from outside, he brings the knock down 3 point threat that Muscala and Chandler were intended to offer. Scott is shooting 41% from three on 4.7 attempts per game.
Much of this is coming from the Center position which stresses and opposing defense in very meaningful ways. By being such a credible threat from deep, the opposition is forced to decide between vacating the paint to go contest, rotating another player over or sacrificing that shot.
Ben Simmons particularly benefits from this in that if a team vacates the paint he has open lanes to attack the rim. Should they rotate defenders over, then Simmons and the other unselfish passers can get the defense into scramble mode pretty quickly and find someone else open. It is hard to overstate the value of good 3 point shooting from the 5 position.
Scott has shown surprising versatility in an increased role for the Philadelphia 76ers. His 23 minutes per game with the team are his highest rate of minutes played thus far in his seven year career, and his 3-point percentage is also a career high. Scott’s ability to play multiple front court position gives Brett Brown a wrinkle he has not had since perhaps Dario Saric and Ersan Ilyasova.
“We are in third place right now; gotta keep winning, keep it going.”Mike Scott