By: Brendan Shuff
Standing at 6’ 2” 200lbs (soaking wet), T.J. McConnell joined the Sixers as an undrafted rookie in 2015 out of Arizona. The former Wildcat played in 81 games, averaging just under 20 minutes, 4.5 assists and 6.1 points a game in the final “official” tank year that was the 2015-2016 NBA season. T.J. has unexpectedly already started in 7 more games this season, than all of his rookie year (17). And although his average points have dipped slightly, his average assists have jumped up to 6 a game. This has allowed Coach Brown to call on this young man late into games, providing him the opportunity to hit several game deciding shots during this slow but electric 1st season towards greatness. Is T.J. McConnell Mr. Clutch?? Joel Embiid has already stated as much, so clearly from here on out if you speak his name is must be as T.J. “Clutch” McConnell.
All joking aside, it’s clear that T.J. has the heart and drive of what we expect and desire in a professional athlete competing in this city. And it’s obvious to see he’s PA born and raised, even if he is from the wrong side of the state (we won’t hold it against him). He may not have as much athleticism as the majority of the top guards in the league and he is more than likely not a starter if (*when) the Sixers are playing in the finals. However, it’s clear that he has the work ethic, drive and most importantly the support and trust of his teammates and coaches. I believe McConnell is an ideal point for Coach Brett Brown and there is clearly something that this kid brings out in others. And it’s for those reasons, along with many others, that I believe TJ has made a strong case to be on this team for many years to come, albeit most likely in a backup role. Only time will tell, it’s clear that Coach Brown believes in him, he embodies the “blue collar” attitude and work ethic that is Philadelphia. However there are many factors involved. This includes, but not limited to the ultimate plan for the Fresh Prince himself, Ben Simmons. Until then, enjoy the ride that this young team is taking us fans on and in the end just Trust the Process.