If it was up to me, yes. But I’m not Brett Brown. I’m just your average die hard fan of a dysfunctional franchise.
James Ennis could not have gotten injured at a more inopportune time. He was the winner of the “tournament” between he and Jonathon Simmons and was seeing all of the back up wing position minutes. As we can all see, Simmons shouldn’t be playing, even if Ennis is unhealthy. He really can’t knock down an open shot and isn’t spectacular defensively. Zhaire Smith, on the other hand, has showed promise from beyond the arc. His form isn’t pretty, but it’s come such a long way in such little time. His defense is what has made him stand out, though. He shows flashes of that elite athleticism and the toughness to actually fight through screens. It’s almost like he’d be perfect for what the Sixers need against a team like the Nets.
Why is Brett Brown wasting time with Jonathon Simmons? We know Simmons isn't good. Zhaire Smith looked effective in limited minutes this season. Smith is the upside play and should get a chance.
— Kevin O'Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) April 13, 2019
Then, there’s TJ McConnell. The fan favorite. Hell, maybe even the coach’s favorite. But the Nets are guarding him similarly to the way they’re guarding Ben Simmons. Brooklyn is leaving them open, daring them to shoot. There was a sequence on Saturday where the Nets left him wide open in the corner, he got the ball, passed it up, dribbled into the lane and turned it over. For a team that doesn’t have a ton of good shooters, that is just flat out unacceptable from McConnell. Either he has to shoot or he shouldn’t play.
I understand, Smith is 19. He only played in a handful of games. I completely get why Brett Brown doesn’t have him in the rotation. But this is the playoffs. As a coach, you have to go against the grain and do what’s best for your team. Right now, I don’t think either player I mentioned gives the Sixers the best chance to win. Given the matchups, it’s obvious Smith should play.
I really think Zhaire Smith has All-Defensive team potential. He's already Philly's best POA defender.
Here are a few plays that stood out last night, showing his quickness, how well he fights around screens, and contests without fouling. He's everywhere in the first play: pic.twitter.com/tKlrAu7rqQ
— Tom West (@TomWestNBA) April 11, 2019
If it is McConnell that’s replaced, Jimmy Butler could easily step in and handle the back up point guard duties. However, I’d say it’s more likely that Jonathon Simmons gets removed from the rotation instead of McConnell.