Philly's Point Guard Woes
The Sixers suffered a setback at home against the Bulls on Tuesday night, but the loss column wasn’t the only place they took a hit. Point guard Jrue Holiday injured his left foot, and while an MRI came back negative he will almost certainly miss a few games. Here’s the kicker: according to Michael Levin of Liberty Ballers, there are rumblings that Nick Young will start at point guard, what with backup PG Royal Ivey also on the shelf. That’s right: Nick Young, brought in by the Sixers to score and do not much else. Is there any chance this experiment works out?
Young has gained a bit of a reputation in the NBA as a shoot-first player. Actually, scratch that. He’s more or less a shoot-only player. Let’s use Young’s career numbers to see how he stacks up. Using Basketball-Reference’s database, there have only been 18 individual season-long stat lines that had as high a usage rate (23.5) and as low of an assist rate (7.3) in at least 22.9 minutes per game since Young entered the league; Young happens to have two of those seasons.
In fairness, Swaggy P has the highest assist rate of his career this season at 8.7. Unfortunately, that has still only equated to 1.9 assists per 36 minutes. That’s just barely better than the 1.4 turnovers/36 that Young averages. And that’s not even getting into Young’s non-existent rebounding (2.6 boards per 36) and disinterested defense (108 defensive rating).
Chances are, Evan Turner will end up with most of the playmaking responsibilities in the absence of a true point guard. He played the point-forward role at Ohio State well enough to get himself drafted second overall back in 2010. In his senior year, Turner averaged six dimes per game and assisted on 37.5 percent of his teammates field goals in his court time.
Now that he’s become the Sixers’ secondary ball handler, Turner has done a nice job of setting up teammates to the tune of 4.1 assists per 36 minutes with an assist rate of 19.3, both career highs. Throughout his career, Turner has shown a very solid handle (career turnover rate of 12.8 percent) and an ability to create shots for himself and others off the dribble. In fact, even as Turner’s usage rate has jumped to a career high (21.6) his turnover rate (11.4) is the lowest of his career.
So what can we expect from a Turner-Young backcourt? The sample size is quite small. Per 82games.com, the Sixers have only had one unit featuring those two as the guards play significant minutes. On the court alongside Jason Richardson, Thad Young and Spencer Hawes, that group has scored a staggering 1.68 points per possession while giving up just 0.9. They have an effective field goal percentage of 61.9 while holding opponents to a 27.8 eFG%. That group has also rebounded the ball at a nice clip, although Young probably didn’t have much to do with that, and has taken care of the ball. Again, those numbers come from a tiny sample size, but it’s safe to assume that the length of a lineup that has Young and Turner at the guard spots will present problems on both ends of the floor.