Sixers Lead

Scott Could Solve Sixers’ Bench Woes

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The fact that somebody with emoji tattoos can be a valuable contributor on a professional basketball team is baffling.

Yet such is the case with the Sixers’ Mike Scott.

The recently acquired forward had his best game as a Sixer Saturday night against the Warriors, solidifying his role as one of the second unit’s most valuable pieces. Scott finished with 22 points — 20 of which came in the second half — to go along with six made threes.

For a bench devoid of true 3-and-D wings, Scott is the next best thing. There’s no denying his ability to space the floor. He’s shooting 42% from three, including a scorching 59% since the All-Star break. Additionally, he’s an underrated defender that can guard multiple positions on the switch. Perhaps most importantly, he brings a level of toughness to a bench whose previous “enforcer” for lack of a better term, was TJ McConnell.

 

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Even Jimmy Butler has sung Scott’s praises:

“Mike’s great,” Butler told Sixers.com last Monday, “constantly smiling, cracking jokes, keeping it light-hearted around here, knowing that basketball is basketball, but having good people is going to trump any and everything.”

What this means going forward

Saturday’s game provided yet another example of how lethal the Sixers can be come April. While their bench (or lack thereof) could be their downfall in the playoffs, the small ball lineup with Scott at the five has shown promise, albeit in spurts.

At its peak, it can force dominant yet laterally challenged fives like DeMarcus Cousins to guard the perimeter. Think about its potential to neutralize shot blockers like Marc Gasol and Aron Baynes. Scott’s shooting even relegated Cousins to the bench for spurts in the third quarter and for good reason. When guarding one another, Scott outscored Cousins twelve to five according to NBA Advanced Stats.

Nobody will say that an injured Joel Embiid is good. Still, it can’t hurt that his injury has allowed coach Brett Brown to experiment with lineups. Playing Scott at the five could prove effective when neither Boban Marjanovic nor Jonah Bolden can get it going.

Don’t get me wrong: Scott is far from perfect. A boneheaded foul by Scott effectively ended the Sixers’ chances to regain the lead. His recent play, however, has been encouraging. The combo forward is averaging 12 points and over three long balls over the past five games.  

Scott obviously played the game of his life on Saturday but his demeanor was by far the biggest takeaway. Whether the World Champions or a crunch time bucket, Scott wants all the smoke. Fearless players are a dime a dozen in today’s NBA. The Sixers are lucky to have him. That fearlessness will pay big dividends down the stretch and certainly win Scott plenty of beers in Philly.

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