The Philadelphia 76ers are bad. Like, "change your 'when-we-win' pizza promotion" bad. This, as we (and roughly 17 million other people) have written before, is by design, as a Sixers club led by analytically inclined general manager Sam Hinkie, with the full support of ownership, undertakes a tip-to-tail rebuilding effort, punting on short-term gains (like, say, using your scads of cap space or having your lottery picks actually play in the season you draft them) in pursuit of sustained long-term competition. Hinkie and company probably weren't aiming for an 0-11 start to the 2014-15 season, but hey, any path that leads to the bottom of the standings and the top of the unchanged draft lottery works just fine for Philly's purposes. (Besides, it's not like losing a bunch of games in a row is uncharted territory for these Sixers.)
While management's super cool with getting its Fountains of Wayne on, though, the players who are actually on the 76ers' present-day roster understandably bristle at the notion that they're "tanking." The club's rebuilding strategy might make some observers sick to their stomachs, but for the Sixers' plethora of young players, every night represents an opportunity to prove they belong in the NBA and should be considered part of some team's future plans, whether in Philadelphia or elsewhere.
— Michael Levin (@Michael_Levin) November 20, 2014
McDaniels told reporters Thursday he couldn't confirm that they actually came from his mother, Shawn Chapman McDaniels.
“I didn’t see anything, so I really don’t know,” he said, according to Tom Moore of the Intelligencer.
The account from which the tweets were sent — @KJsMOMshawn — no longer appears active. (Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the account was "deleted sometime after the team's afternoon practice.") Another account with a very similar handle — @KJmomshawn — is still up and running, however; as ProBasketballTalk's Dan Feldman notes, that account features multiple tweets critical of both the Sixers …:
@UncleRUSH MY SON WAS JUST DRAFTED TO FHILLY76 A SCREWED UP PROGRAM, SO I AM GOING TO SHARE YOUR QUOTE, I THINK THAT IT WILL STRENTHEN HIM
— Shawn Chapman McD. (@kjmomshawn) October 1, 2014
... and Clemson, where McDaniels played his college ball:
@KJMcDaniels you r surrounded by HATERS FOOLS IDIOTS,please take my advice LEAVE that school.that coach is hurtin your NBA chance,sabatagin
— Shawn Chapman McD. (@kjmomshawn) January 27, 2014
While we're guessing McDaniels would rather such support of his individual talents and criticisms of the team structures within which he operates remain quieter (or maybe even non-existent), the player many tabbed as a steal for the Sixers with the second pick of the second round in the 2014 NBA draft did admit to feeling some frustration with a somewhat limited role — just 22 minutes per game and one start in 11 appearances — on an exceptionally limited team that seems like it could use all the shooting (McDaniels is shooting 46.7 percent from the floor and 38.7 percent from 3-point land), defensive prowess and eye-popping athleticism it could get.
More from Moore:
“It’s frustrating, but I’ve just got to deal with the minutes I do get and play as hard as I can,” said McDaniels after Thursday’s 2½-hour practice. “I can’t determine the playing time. It’s happening. I have to deal with it. I’ve just got to stay humble about it and keep grinding.”
Sixers coach Brett Brown said McDaniels is in a logjam at the wing position that features Hollis Thompson, veteran Luc Mbah a Moute and recent signee Robert Covington.
“At times, it is hard.,” Brown said. “In the light of day, in hindsight, statistically, there is some truth to that (McDaniels merits more minutes). But as the game’s playing out, you’re going with, at times, your senior players or gut feel.”
Beyond Brown's gut, of course, there's also the argument that, even on a team as ragged and temporary as the Sixers, rookies should have to earn minutes rather than merely being handed playing time to avoid developing an ill-suited sense of entitlement that could develop into a larger problem down the line. It's also true that sometimes young players seem to clearly merit significantly more burn than their vet-preferring coaches hand them — think back to Kevin Love's days as a per-minute All-Star stapled to the Minnesota Timberwolves bench by Kurt Rambis. It's difficult to consider this quite the same sort of situation just 11 games into McDaniels' pro career, though, even if you're not especially impressed by the more "senior" players that Brown has at times preferred. Patience seems to be the proper panacea here.
Then again, the specifics of McDaniels' circumstance might make him a bit less willing to just sit idly by and wait for a chance. Remember, McDaniels chose to ink a one-year, non-guaranteed contract rather than the standard rookie deal after Philly tabbed him in the second round, betting that the 6-foot-6 guard would impress enough during his freshman season to earn a restricted free-agent offer sheet next summer for more money — and, importantly, for more guaranteed money — than the Sixers' rookie deal would have offered him. The less McDaniels plays, however, the less opportunity he has to display his wares to prospective suitors, perhaps (not likely, but perhaps) reducing the chances that another team will toss him the sort of offer sheet that makes Philly blanch next summer.
Again, it seems awful early in the game to accuse Philly of deliberately burying McDaniels to make him seem a less attractive asset to others, or to wonder whether Brown's rotation patterns are aimed at hiding one of the Sixers' few potential bright lights under a bushel. But that doesn't make the situation any easier for McDaniels (or those close to him) and doesn't make the frustration any less natural.
“I think coming in as a rookie, you always want to play, especially when your team’s losing you think you can be out there and help,” Carter-Williams said, according to Moore. “It’s something that everybody goes through. He’ll learn. It’s something we all need to help him out with. If he’s frustrated with his playing time, he can just come to us or talk to coach.”
And, maybe, make crystal clear to those he loves that he'd prefer those frustrations get aired by him in private rather than by anyone else in public.
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