Sean Miller talks T.J. McConnell on 76ers Podcast
Coach Miller gives his take on T.J. McConnell so far this season!
T.J.’s rise to the starting lineup helping the Sixers win six of their last seven games has given him some more notoriety in the last few weeks. No moment was more special than when he hit a buzzer-beating spinning fade-away jumper while being defended by Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis to beat the Knicks at home.
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As coach Miller joined the podcast, he was asked questions about his perspective on T.J.’s mindset and abilities to impact a team. Coach Miller discussed how TJ’s best quality is being a team player that while at Arizona put his school first before his individual accolades. He then explained that when a player is able to focus on the group’s success, it leaves the way for players to have individual success, which is exactly what we see happen to T.J. right now.
Miller believes that the 76ers are a great fit for T.J. in his maturation process as a young NBA player. One component that Miller believes solidifies McConnell’s life expectancy in the NBA is his ability to defend. He was one of the best defenders in college basketball, and Miller believes T.J. didn’t get enough credit for it. Right now T.J. is averaging 1.4 steals a game and I expect that number to go up as the season continues.
When T.J. came to U of A from Duquesne University, Miller told him that given his skill set he had a serious opportunity to play in the NBA if he wanted to. McConnell has taken full advantage of that opportunity using his “racquetball player” speed and instincts on defense that separate him from the crowd. Miller explained that he has an elite skill to interpret his opponents quickly, which keeps him one step ahead of other point guards.
As a player who was not awarded height in the genetic lottery, his pass-first style of playing point guard gets the ball those players who are physically gifted in order for them to make plays. Skills like these are what have gotten T.J. McConnell into the NBA and will more than likely keep him there for years to come. You can catch T.J. and the 76ers in their next matchup on Monday as they are on the road to face the Milwaukee Bucks.