It’s been a while since we’ve checked in on the Delaware Blue Coats. Through 31 of their 50 games, the Blue Coats sit second in the Atlantic Division, and fourth in the Eastern Conference. As they begin to stabilize their playoff push, Delaware has been impacted greatly by the Sixers’ struggles. Some of Philadelphia’s moves at the trade deadline could drastically halt any type of championship push the Blue Coats were eyeing.
Everyone knows who this man is. Starting the season, Shayok was tearing the G-League to shreds. The 6’5 wingman averaged 35 points over his first three games, including a 42-point explosion against Greensboro. These accolades named him G-League player of the week.
Soon after, he injured his quad and then was a plug on the Sixers’ bench, keeping him away from the Blue Coats for four games. Shayok was a top scorer in the entire league for a while, and still leads the league in points per game amongst forwards and guards (23.3). His league-leading 30.9 usage percentage shows coach Connor Johnson’s trust in him and earned him minutes with Philadelphia.
Shayok is a huge scoring loss for the Blue Coats. Even though they have been getting enormous production from Jared Brownridge, Shayok will surely be missed.
Norvel Pelle’s story is vastly different from Shayok’s. Delaware had to cold turkey Pelle’s blocking and rebounding ability, as the Sixers called him up back in October. In total, Pelle has gotten minutes in 15 Sixers’ games this season.
His fouling is the only true critique of Norvel. His style of play is the reason for this, but his natural ability to hold his ground in the paint outweighs the kinks. He averages 1.5 blocks and 3.6 rebounds per game, all within a mere11 minutes. With the Sixers’ strong defensive playing style, Pelle fits right in.
In Delaware, however, Pelle has not been as much as a loss as Shayok will (probably) end up being. Even in Pelle’s absence, the Blue Coats are second in the league with 51.3 rebounds per game. Christ Koumadje has been cleaning up the glass on both ends of the court in Delaware. Koumadje sits sixth in the league with 3.6 offensive boards, en route to his fifth-most 10.7 rebounds per game.
Koumadje also leads the G-League in blocks per game, with four. Pelle’s absence has been filled greatly due to Koumadje, but a team can never have too many athletic big men.
Norvel Pelle recently earned himself a guaranteed deal on the Sixers’ roster through next season.
Jonah Bolden is a lesser case but falls perfectly right after Pelle.
Pelle earned himself a big league contract, which will likely keep him up in Philly for the remainder of the season. As a corresponding move, Bolden has been waived by the team. As for Delaware, the Blue Coats signed former Capital City Go-Go guard Justin Robinson.
Bolden barely saw the court at all for Philly this season. He found himself playing the most with the Blue Coats, where he averaged just under 25 minutes a night in 14 games. However, he struggled to get much going, averaging 11.6 PPG. This average is skewed, as he scored 34 in his first game with Delaware back in November. Since then, he’s only broken the 15 point plateau three times.
Jonah Bolden has the opportunity to be signed elsewhere, and perhaps even Delaware. He has the makings to be a professional basketball player in some capacity, just not with Philadelphia, where he didn’t fit in. He will not be missed much by Delaware, either.
Ah, time for the intriguing one. The 2018 first-round pick has been quietly floating back and forth between Delaware and Philadelphia’s rosters.
This season, he’s played in 19 games with the Blue Coats. Smith has scored at least 10 points in 13 of such games, averaging 13 PPG. He’s shooting about four threes a night and making about 37% of those.
After dealing with a couple of different, and almost life-threatening issues keeping him aside for most of his rookie season, Smith has been able to play minutes in seven games for Philadelphia during 2019-2020. He may only be picking up garbage time minutes, and getting a mere 4.9 per night, but it’s progress.
Zhaire has gained high praise by Delaware coach Connor Johnson this season. Coach Johnson has said he’s “a huge fan” of Smith, and praised his style of play. Back in November, Johnson talked about how Zhaire is growing both physically, and mentally, as a player.
I think his confidence grows everyday. I thought the summer was a big jump from where we had him last year when he was with us in Delaware and I think we’re still seeing that here. He shoots it with more confidence, I think he shoots it comfortably, he looks good shooting it out here, but overall I really am impressed by his defensive presence. The way he can get up and guard the ball and I think it’s going to be an asset for us in the G League, but I think that can really be something that helps the Sixers down the line in the future.
Zhaire being up with the big league roster may be the biggest loss for Delaware. His vision and ability to control the court allowed his teammates, to score as easily as they have. If Smith finds himself likely staying behind Shake Milton, the Sixers should loan him back to Delaware.
The Wrap up:
As the Blue Coats look to make a push toward taking over their division lead, they will have to do it without some of their top players. Some high caliber G-League players have found themselves planted on the Sixers’ bench, and even starters in Shake Milton’s case.
Similar to Milton, the collection of Shayok, Pelle, and Smith look to make an impact, and essentially graduate from the G-League. As both teams aim to make deep playoff pushes, it’s time for the players to settle in and make a name for themselves.
Avid Philly fan and future educator
Student at Stockton University