Jerryd Bayless Surgery Returns Philadelphia 76ers To 14

Play It Again Sam er… Bryan. With the news of Jerryd Bayless surgery on his left wrist, the Philadelphia 76ers have played the last four seasons with a starter on the inactive list due to injury.

When it comes to NBA players, the Philadelphia 76ers seem to gravitate to the player with a long rehabilitation ahead of him.  It began in the 2013 NBA Draft, when then president Sam Hinkie traded for the rights to center Nerlens Noel, knowing full well that his knee would require a year’s rehabilitation.

The very next year, Hinkie was back at it again. Only this time he selected center Joel Embiid, despite the fractured Navicular bone from his right foot.  That fracture required two surgeries, two years of rehab, and two separate trips to Aspetar clinic in Qatar.

Stay Healthy

Part of the challenge of the past three years found the Philadelphia 76ers awaiting significant players to return to health.  During the wait, the team was bolstered last year with the arrival of team executive Jerry Colangelo.  While Colangelo was thought to arrive to help redirect the teams rebuilding efforts, events proved he simply was the vanguard to the eventual hiring of his son, Bryan Colangelo.

But he marched into history.  He noted the team needed more “basketball minds” at the helm. One may think that meant that future commitments to players would ensure those players would be healthy enough to play for the team.

If you thought that, you would be wrong.

The 10 win season for the Philadelphia 76ers was a low point for the team.  But unlike the simplistic conclusion of the poor showing was designed, there were a number of contributing elements to the futility which were easily corrected.  Instead, we go back, jack, do it again….

The Bynum Legacy

Jerryd Bayless joins a string of “too hurt to play” which began back in August 2012 with the mega-deal for center Andrew Bynum.  Since that time, the team has sat Bynum, Noel, Embiid, and now Bayless for the season.  While Noel and Embiid were known risks with upside, Bayless was brought to this team to play now.

In retrospect, the last fully healthy roster of the Philadelphia 76ers was during the 2011-2012 season, which coincides with the team’s last playoff appearance.  Now that is NOT to say that a fully healthy 2016-2017 roster would guarantee the playoffs, but it’s a significant contributor to those teams who find prolonged success in the NBA.

Long Season, Short Roster

It’s a long season.  82 games to be exact.  with 5 positions on the floor, that is 19,680 playing minutes to parse out to the players on the roster.  Among 15 players, that is 1,312 minutes per player, or an average of 16 minutes per game.  But as soon as that changes to 14, the average per player allotment increases to 17.15 minutes.  While that is just over 1 minute per game, that is 82 games.

Players who remain out for a season place pressure upon a team’s bench.  If a starter is nicked up, a solid bench simply picks up more minutes.  If the bench is too shallow, or playing minutes are too constrictive, the team cannot level load the burden to players who can carry the load.

You end up with players who either do not sit besides being nicked up (Covington) or players taking too many minutes while they are still adjusting to the NBA (Saric).  In either case, it’s not a happy ending.

The Philadelphia 76ers signed free agents to mentor young players, and cover minutes until the younger players could earn playing time.  So far, Bayless’ signing remains a head scratcher.  Some players will benefit from additional playing time, players like T.J. McConnell.

But the Philadelphia 76ers are working to build positive momentum.  The Bayless signing appears to be a huge gaffe on the part of basketball-minded Bryan Colangelo.

Paying for a veteran to heal on the bench is the old school mentality of 2011-2012, a mentality that crippled this franchise. The Philadelphia 76ers can ill afford mistakes like this going forward. In the end, the signing of a veteran who was too injured to play this year is solely on Bryan Colangelo. If it were Sam Hinkie’s doing, headlines would tout a scheme to tank. While I’ve no doubt that is not the intent, it’s the result.

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