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May 02, 2016

Sixers stay or go: The wings

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Last week, we started the Sixers “stay or go” series with a post focusing on the guards, estimating that only 40 percent of the 2015-16 backcourt will return. If you don’t feel like reading the intro, Bryan Colangelo recently talked about adding “team building pieces” and warned against the Sixers making a big splash in free agency.

With that in mind, I’m making predictions on who will stick around from the 2015-16 roster. A busy week (Flyers exit meetings, NFL Draft) prevented me from continuing the series for a few days, but I’m back and… well, the same.

Part 1: Guards
Part 2: Wings
Part 3: Bigs (tomorrow)

Robert Covington

The easiest call of the group, RoCo had an uneven 2015-16 season, one at least partially affected by injuries. The boot to the face he took from Jerami Grant was a scary moment that sticks out, but recall that Covington also injured his knee in the final preseason game. He returned after about 10 days, played one game, and then missed another two weeks due to injury. As everyone remembers, the Sixers didn’t do very much winning during that November stretch when Covington was out.

(They didn’t do much winning when he came back, either.)

Covington increased his volume of three-point attempts, but his percentages dipped from 37.4% to 35.3%. He got to the free-throw line less and shot a worse percentage from there, as well. One area that Covington did improve significantly was defensive rebounding, and I believe that his overall defense goes slightly under the radar. His quick hands help create steals for the Sixers.  The team was 3.1 points per 100 possessions worse defensively when Covington left the floor.

All of this leads to my question: Is RoCo a 4? Take a look at his positional splits, per Nylon Calculus:     

 Minutes played
Team net rating
Small forward
Power forward

For the Sixers, -0.2 is pretty darn good. We might not get our answer next year, as the Sixers frontcourt is about to become even more crowded. With that contract, though, as the cap goes up? This is a no-brainer.

Verdict: Stay

Jerami Grant

After the season ended, Brett Brown was asked how many “keepers” were on this team. While he wouldn’t commit to anyone long-term, the two players Brown first mentioned by name were Covington and Jerami Grant. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, as Brown has always spoken highly of Grant the last two years. Like RoCo, the Sixers were better when Grant was on the floor.

The good news is that Grant made some legitimate improvements this year. He raised his two-point shooting percentage, cut down on turnovers, improved his rebounding (which still isn’t great), and continued to block shots. The bad news is that it’s going to be really hard to play him in a playoff series if that jumper doesn’t significantly improve.

Still, he should clearly be back.

Verdict: Stay

Hollis Thompson

The longest-tenured Sixer besides Nerlens Noel, Hollis doesn’t do all that much much besides shoot threes. For that reason, he’s the most difficult choice of the group. I’ll vote that he sticks around without much conviction, but with the Sixers likely looking to bring in help in the backcourt and on the wings, minutes should be more difficult to come by in 2016-17.

Verdict: Stay

Richaun Holmes

Dunkman, dunkman.

(Yes, Holmes isn’t close to a wing, but I stuck him here because the frontcourt is crowded.)

Holmes is an intriguing prospect with a useful strength (catching and finishing in traffic) and harmful weakness (rebounding like a point guard). Brown mentioned that his three-point shot, ugly release and all, will play a major part in determining how far he goes. If Holmes (.18 3P%) can start making shots from deep more consistently, he could develop into a scary offensive threat. His hands and finishing ability are already that good.

Among the 26 rookies that played over 700 minutes, Holmes finished eighth in win shares per 48 minutes. The defense has to make major strides, but Sam Hinkie drafted an intriguing player in Round 2 last year.

Verdict: Stay

So far, I have six of nine Sixers sticking around. The big guys are up tomorrow, and let’s just say that we won’t be going 4 for 4 like today.

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann