Recently Christopher Kline of the Sixer Sense wrote an article stating why T.J. McConnell can’t be a long-term starter for the Sixers. Here are the reasons why he SHOULD.
Passion. Focus. Creativity. Knowledge. These are all characteristics that describe T.J. McConnell, a true basketball point guard. He was given an opportunity for the Sixers two seasons ago and has made the most of it. In his first season, they were the worst team in the NBA with a 10-72 record and this past season they finished 28-51. To say he does not deserve to be a starter is outrageous!
I disagree with some of the statements made by Kline. As a Wildcats fan, I appreciate the dedication he has put into the game of basketball. One of those statements was:
"“There was, and still is, nothing complicated about McConnell’s approach. He’s a limited scorer, not possessing the athleticism needed to excel in isolation nor the jump shot needed to space the floor.”"
Nothing complicated about McConnell’s approach – are you kidding me?! The passion, intensity, and respect he has for the game of basketball is not something that is seen on a regular basis. Wildcats fan remembers this moment when he paid the ultimate respect:
Plus, the vision he has on the court and knowing how to get his teammates involved is not something that can be taught. Wildcats fans were lucky enough to witness that firsthand. You have to respect McConnell’s natural abilities on the court:
Not possessing the athleticism. Recently I wrote about McConnell’s achievement this past season – 500 assists and 125 steals club. The last 76er to achieve this was Allen Iverson. If that is not an example of how athletic one can be, then I don’t know what is?!
Limited scorer. Yes, T.J. only averaged about six points per game, but he did have some game winners this past season. This one was over Carmelo Anthony for the game-winner against the New York Knicks:
And another game winner, this time over the Orlando Magic:
Sometimes it’s not about his points per game; it’s about the quality of his teamwork. Plus, recognizing the moment when a basket is needed and making that happen, is a skill any NBA coach would love.
Another statement made by Kline:
"“With the ever-shifted dynamics of today’s pace-and-space league, it’s difficult to imagine McConnell holding his own as the go-to facilitator for a consistently competitive roster. His athletic limitations, regardless of energy, limit the expansiveness of his defensive prowess, while his lack of a scoring threat on the offensive end makes him far too one-dimensional.”"
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Where do I even begin with this one!? To say that McConnell is one-dimensional is to say that all that LeBron James does is dunk. With the stats and accomplishments McConnell has produced, in his two seasons in the NBA, I would say he is just a little more than “one-dimensional” – more like multidimensional.
He can shoot game winners, assist, steal, defend and provide much-needed energy to his team. In a long 82 game season, having someone like this on your squad can have more of a positive than negative impact. Let’s get real!
Not done yet:
"“Even if McConnell does improve his jumper this offseason — something he seems fully committed to doing — that doesn’t diminish the fact that his ceiling is capped offensively.”"
His ceiling is capped offensively. Okay, now you’ve lost me here. To say in the same sentence and site that McConnell is committed to improving his jumper and saying his offensive has reached its peak, doesn’t make any sense. This season he scored double digits in 17 games and had over 500 assists. That isn’t offense? Last time I checked, assists lead to points.
Finally, this one:
"“It was an entertaining run, and McConnell has, by all means, earned himself a spot in the Sixers’ rotation long-term. He just can’t start — it’s too much of a liability.”"
Too much of a liability. McConnell is anything but a liability. If anything, he is a great asset to the team. He is someone that has brought excitement back to the city of Philadelphia.
Please understand how special T.J. McConnell is – I do, which is why I wrote this. Sometimes it’s not about the size or strength of an athlete, but the heart and determination one has to be become a better player, to improve his team’s overall performance and to get fans cheering again. Clearly, McConnell DOES deserves to be a starter. Everyone has their opinion, and this is mine. Bear Down!