As the Sixers were blown out 129-95 in their first preseason game Tuesday against the Washington Wizards, one thing was clear – the team still desperately needs a point guard.
For now, it’s Isaiah Canaan.
In 24 minutes Tuesday, Canaan scored 13 points on five of 10 shooting with six assists, but also committed two turnovers, was over-matched defensively and really couldn’t get the flow of the offense moving quickly enough.
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“I thought [it was] average,” Sixers coach Brett Brown said of the team’s point guard play. “I think it is something [that] we are going to see play out. We'll get healthier bodies in the not too distant future.”
The Sixers have six point guards on the training camp roster, but only two (Canaan and Scottie Wilbekin) were healthy enough to play on Tuesday night. September signee Kendall Marshall and Tony Wroten are recovering from ACL tears which will sideline them until at least the first game of the season, but the timeline will likely be longer. Pierre Jackson (groin) and T.J. McConnell (sore left foot) are longer shots to make the roster, but figure to be in the mix as well if healthy enough in preseason.
Jackson visited a surgeon on Wednesday regarding his groin and said he’s “not expecting any bad news” on the injury. If healthy enough to play, he could make a strong push to make the team’s roster over Canaan.
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Jackson averaged 10 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.2 assists on the Sixers summer league squad in Las Vegas, but shot just 31.8 percent from the field. Those numbers would have to show improvement across the board for him to supplant Canaan.
Canaan was acquired at the trade deadline in February in a move which shipped the promising K.J. McDaniels to the Houston Rockets. In 22 games he averaged 12.6 points, 2.1 rebounds and 3.1 assists, while shooting 38 percent from the floor.
Canaan was severely out-played by point guard Ish Smith last season, who averaged 12 points, 2.9 rebounds and 6.1 assists, while shooting 40 percent from the floor in a nearly identical timeline. Smith opted to sign with the Wizards this summer, rather than sign Sam Hinkie’s four-year, mostly non-guaranteed contract offer.
The search for a new point guard all started, of course, when Michael Carter-Williams was shipped to the Milwaukee Bucks for a top-5 protected first-round pick at the trade deadline. Many believed the team would draft point guard D’Angelo Russell with the No. 3 pick in the draft before the Lakers scooped him up a pick before. The search continues for the right man for the job and it’s unknown who will man the helm on opening night.