The Sixers announced that they will be penning Scottie Wilbekin to a four year deal after exploding during Summer League performances. After moving overseas to play basketball and coming back to the states, he’s now got his shot at the big time and is eyeing up the starting role. The problem is that competition is more than stiff.
But Scottie is no stranger to challenges after he made the risk of playing overseas pay off. Wilbekin was dealt a rough hand following being passed on in the draft in 2014 after being names named SEC Player of the Year and picking up Third Team All-America honors. Instead of letting it stop him, he took his talents across the pond and refined his craft.
The 6-foot-2 Wilbekin took his former Australian Basket Ball league team the Cairns Taipans to their first playoff game in four years. Not only that but he posted team best numbers in points and assists per game, averaging over 15 and 4 respectively. He then added even more versatility to the mix by averaging 1.1 steals per game.
In terms of health, he’s about as good as they come. Wilbekin played all 32 games last year, no injuries, no controversy and was even on the court longer than any other man on the team, spending over half an hour per game on the court.
To put it simply, he dominated overseas and gave teams a reason to look at him once again. he is deadly from range. Overseas he hit 44% of his shots and scored 8.2 points per game. In Summer League he almost turned into Ryback, shouting feed me more! Everything that was being given to him outside the arc he was burying so precisely it was eyebrow raising. Averaging 14 points per game, he simply lit up the court and almost took some of the spotlight away from the Sixers third overall pick!
Whilst Canaan and Smith have great ball handling, their flaws lay elsewhere. Canaan tends to be more selfish and whilst it’s great he can handle the ball like the best in the business, if you choose to take on a risky outside shot as opposed to set up a teammate and it doesn’t pay off, then it hurts your reputation. Wilbekin seems like a much more well rounded player and defensively he is far more intimidating. Whilst the Sixers tend to play a short style of play, the former Gator can contribute to all factors, the team could have really used such a jack of all trades last season to give some help to Nerlens and co.
So, why could he potentially start at PG this season? The Sixers are a team in a current state of rebuilding. Starting from the ground up, re-structuring and building Hinkies “system” that all fans now have full faith in. Wilbekin stunned in the summer league and whilst a start is by no means guaranteed, he’s certainly an underdog with an appropriate skillset. His main competition in my eyes is Wroten. The Sixers guard had his season ended prematurely with a torn ACL back in February and is expected to return to full flight come the start of the season. Whilst Canaan and Smith have more NBA experience and have already showed promising signs, the weaknesses are highlighted far more than when you watch Wilbekin play. The trade may have been made on the low, the stories may have slipped through the media, but it’s time to stop sleeping on Wilbekin. If he doesn’t get the start come week one, he will certainly factor hugely in Hinkie’s long term plans.