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76ers at the break: making sense of the youth and the struggles

Metro Sixers' writer Andy Jasner gives his mid-season grades.
The Sixers have had a rough year, but have also had much to cheer about.Getty images

The halfway point of the 2014-15 76ers season technically came after the 41stgame.

Since the All-Star break comes this week in New York, let’s take a look at the Sixers’ roster through 53 games. At 12-41, the record doesn’t look very good.

After an 0-17 start, the Sixers have shown quite a bit of promise. Even in a number of their losses, they’ve competed like crazy until the final buzzer.

That’s all you can ask of the youngest collective group of players in NBA history.

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“We’re going to scrap and compete and work until the very end because that’s what we should do and that’s what the coaches expect from us,” said rookie guard K.J. McDaniels. “We should expect nothing less.”

The Sixers don’t play again until Feb. 20 when they host the Indiana Pacers at the Wells Fargo Center.

For now, it’s time for midseason grades:

G Michael Carter-Williams

The reigning Rookie of the Year has been stellar at times and maddening at other times. But he continues to improve overall. His shooting must get better. MCW is capable of triple-doubles and he should evolve even more as the roster improves. It’s vital to note that he’s just in his second season and he’s in a challenging situation with a struggling team. Grade: B

G Tony Wroten

​This electrifying young player was leading the team in scoring until he suffered a partially torn ACL. His future isn’t immediately known. If he comes back healthy, he can definitely be a major asset. The former first-round draft pick has loads of potential. Grade: B

G K.J. McDaniels

​What a pleasant surprise in the second round. McDaniels’ offense has come along faster than expected and his work ethic is noticeable virtually every night. Not only can McDaniels throw down a vicious dunk, he’s become one of the best defenders on the team. Grade: B+

G JaKarr Sampson

The undrafted guard from St. John’s is one of their most passionate players. He’s also become of their most improved players. In fact, he has filled in at backup point guard and done an admirable job. He doesn’t do anything particularly great. But he’s proven to be a decent backup. Grade: B-

G Hollis Thompson

He missed 11 games with an upper respiratory illness earlier this season. Since returning, he has had some shining moments. He also has had some tough shooting nights. In other words, he’s been inconsistent. In the games Thompson has played well, he has been able to knock down shots. It just needs to happen on a consistent basis. Grade: C

G Jason Richardson

He has been out all season with a knee injury though his return may happen after the All-Star break. He would automatically be the oldest player on this team and could provide valuable leadership. Without having played one second this season, a grade is impossible now. Grade: Incomplete

G Tim Frazier

Signed to a 10-day contract on Feb. 5, Frazier went on to start two of the next three games. He had a career-high 10 points against the Golden State Warriors but turned the ball over seven times. That’s to be expected as he was pressed into immediate action. He played with confidence and that was impressive. If Frazier remains with the team, he has a chance to be a solid backup. Grade: B-

F Robert Covington

This may be the biggest undrafted gem brought in by Sam Hinkie. Covington can flat-out shoot the basketball from distance. And he continues to provide offense each time out. If he misses a few in a row, it doesn’t faze him. Covington just may have a role long-term here in Philadelphia. Grade: B

F Luc Mbah a Moute

​He comes to play hard every game. He doesn’t always put big statistics, but that’s OK. He rebounds, plays defense and helps guide the young players along. Every team needs a player like this. Grade: B

F Furkan Aldemir

​He hasn’t logged many minutes thus far in a Sixers uniform. Aldemir has shown a penchant for rebounding and that will be beneficial in the future. He needs to develop his overall offensive game. Grade: C

F Malcolm Thomas

Thomas has remained on the bench for the most part. He’s receiving some good experience in practice, but it’s hard to see what he can add down the road. Grade: D

F Jerami Grant

Another second-round pick that may turn out to be a steal. Grant wasn’t known as a shooter at Syracuse, but he has been able to hit some huge 3-pointers. His athleticism on the defensive end has led to fast break opportunities. Grant’s shooting will ultimately open up chances to get to the basket. Defensively, he can get stops and block shots. Plenty of potential here. Grade: B

C Nerlens Noel

After sitting out all of 2013-14, Noel has had an up-and-down season. But there have been impressive glimpses, especially with his shot-blocking. He needs to get more consistent around the basket on offense, specifically with catching the ball and finishing plays. Grade: C+

C Henry Sims

Yet another undrafted player, Sims is showing improvement in all facets of his game. He has even stepped behind the 3-point line and knocked down some clutch shots. He looks as if he’s getting more confident every game. You can’t teach height so effective big men off the bench are huge in this league. Grade: B-

C Joel Embiid

​He’s one of the biggest keys to the Sixers’ future, but hasn’t played at all while recuperating from injuries. He may not play until 2015-16 and that’s not a bad thing. If the Sixers are going to take the next step, they’ll need Embiid in the middle of it all. Stay tuned.Grade:Incomplete

 
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