The Philadelphia 76ers played their final game before the All-Star break on Wednesday night and are sporting a 21-34 record for the 2016-17 season. To the common fan, that might not look good, but to fans that have watched this team over the past few years, it's a large improvement from where things have been, despite the questionable front office decisions that have happened lately.
During the All-Star break, we'll be giving each Sixers player a grade for their performance so far, starting with guards, with the exception of Jerryd Bayless, who played in just three games. Let's get started.
Stats: 6.3 ppg, 6.1 apg, 3.0 rpg, 46.6% fg
After starting the season as the teams' back-up point guard, McConnell has emerged as one of the Sixers more important players throughout the season, hitting game-winners, running an efficient offense and developing an adorable friendship with teammate Dario Saric. McConnell could have been the odd man out if Jerryd Bayless was healthy, because Sergio Rodriguez started the year at point, but injury pushed TJ into that role and he hasn't looked back. In 30 games as the Sixers starting point guard, TJ is averaging nine points, 8.1 assists and 4.1 rebounds and there's no doubt he should remain in this role for the remainder of the season. During the Sixers strong month of January, TJ averaged 9.3 assists across 14 games, good for 7th in the NBA, ahead of guys like LeBron James and Stephen Curry.
Stats: 8.1 ppg, 5.1 apg, 39.8% fg, 37.1% 3pt fg
The Sixers signed Rodriguez to a low-risk one-year deal prior to the season and for what they paid for, I think it's working out pretty well. Although he's not the most reliable shooter, Rodriguez has shown that he can run a pick-and-roll offense effectively and hit the long-range shot if necessary. Obviously, you'd like to see a vet like Sergio be able to outplay a TJ McConnell, but it just hasn't happened. Since being put in a reserve role, Sergio's shooting has taken a hit. As a starter, his field-goal percentage is .408 compared to .375 off the bench. It's tough to get in a groove as a bench guy when you were starting, but for a player that's been in the NBA and overseas, you'd imagine he'd be able to adjust. Overall, about what I expected from Rodriguez thus far. Improvement in his shooting and turnovers are definitely needed post All-Star break.
Stats: 9.0 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 2.1 apg, 40.5% fg, 37.6% 3pt fg
After a poor preseason showing, many were calling for the Sixers to cut Stauskas, but luckily they didn't, because he's been an improvement over last season in a good way. During the 2015-16 campaign, Nik seemed to force three-point shots and not really drive to the lane at all. This year, he's been much more aggressive and has converted on some nice, acrobatic layups in the paint. Obviously, you'd like to see his three-point percentage a bit higher, but for a guy that is called a first round bust by many, he's making good steps in his development and getting away from a one-dimensional offensive game. In the month of February, Stauskas is averaging 10 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.3 assists in just over 30 minutes per game.
Stats: 9.7 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 1.7 apg, 45.1% fg, 36.9% 3pt fg
Henderson was a good addition to the Sixers, providing the team with some more veteran leadership both on and off the court. After shooting 48.5 percent overall in January though, he's hit a slump in February, hitting 39.1 percent of his shots. He was out of the starting lineup with a hip injury and had been coming off the bench for Nik Stauskas and now he's back in the starting five. If you look more closely at his stats, he's a more effective shooter off the bench, shooting nearly four points higher as a reserve. Overall though, Henderson's 45.1 percent shooting percentage has been strong and lately, he seems to not be forcing shots, but rather taking the open ones and making them. As far as improvements go, I'd like to see him take some more shots as the primary two-guard, which would ideally get him into a more comfortable offensive groove moving forward.
Stats: 8G, 5.3 ppg, 0.8 apg, 46.2% fg, 40% 3pt field goal
Not really a whole lot to go off of with Randle, but from what we've seen, he has some explosive speed and can hit the three-point shot pretty consistently when he gets minutes. He's only played in four of the teams' last 10 games despite signing a non-guaranteed three-year deal in January after completing two 10-day contracts with the Sixers. I think it'll be until the offseason and Summer League until we get a true look at what Randle can do, but I wouldn't be surprised if he ends up waived or on the Sevens to start next season
That'll take care of the guards. Make sure to stay tuned for our All-Star Break Report Cards on Sixers forwards!