With all the hype over the center position and Chris’ recent article on the crowded backcourt, I’d like to shed some light on the forward position, a key part of the Sixers progress. For the purpose of this article, I will ignore Noel. He’ll play plenty of minutes at power forward but he isn’t exactly an “under the radar” type guy like the players I’m about to discuss. Players like Grant and Covington will have a lot to do with whether we see the Sixers in the playoffs within the next few years. So with that, lets take a look at the talent.
Jerami Grant: When airborne, he is the most exciting player on the Sixers. Grant has always been able to fly, but he’ll have to work even more on the finer points of his game if he wants to showcase this on a regular basis. His three point shooting is still below average for his position, and I think he’ll have to work on that even more if he wants to play meaningful minutes alongside Noel and Okafor. Grant also has no semblence of a pull up jumper, which would be extremely helpful in getting the defense to stop sagging off of him, therefore opening up the lane. Grant is fun to watch but he needs to step up and become a more efficient player this season.
Robert Covington: According to metrics such as real plus-minus and true shooting percentage, Covington was the superior forward for the Sixers. He came out of nowhere last season to provide some much needed long range shooting for the Sixers. He wasn’t as good on defense as Grant, but he was still a solid defender. With Noel and Okafor at power forward and center, I see Covington as the better fit. If he can improve his passing and toughness on the offensive side of the ball, he will be a solid player moving forward.
Jakarr Sampson: The athletic Jakarr Sampson makes Jerami Grant look like a polished player by comparison. This is a guy with all the athletic tools to be a good NBA player. Unfortunately, he can’t shoot, doesn’t have a handle, and simply looks awkward on the offensive side. It may be a year or two before he becomes a more polished player and by that point, we might already be moving on from him. I don’t want to overlook Sampson because he plays good defense and has “upside” as they say. It doesn’t hurt to have someone talented like him on the bench, but he will have to become a more well-rounded player if he wants to see the floor more often.
Richaun Holmes: Holmes signed a three year deal with the Sixers just a week ago. The power forward got drafted because of his defense and rebounding ability, and he showed some of those skills in Utah before breaking his elbow. As a scorer, Holmes was a decent post up player in college, and scored quite a bit off the offensive glass as well. He will have to test his shooting range, and he was starting to do that during his final year at Bowling Green. Holmes will most likely make the team, but he won’t get the minutes second-round pick Jerami Grant got last year.
Carl Landry: If you’re excited about Carl Landry, that’s a shame, because he probably won’t be a Sixer by opening day.
The development of these players will be crucial to whether the Sixers go 20-62 or 30-52 this season (Sorry, I don’t think they’re making the playoffs this year). In all seriousness, I look forward to watching these players grow, and I hope at least one of them can become a long-term option.