76ers a Bad Situation for J.P. Tokoto


The Philadelphia 76ers drafted J.P. Tokoto with the 58th pick in the NBA Draft on Thursday night/early Friday morning. Tokoto left early from Carolina, so just the fact that he got drafted should be met with cheers and celebration. However, digging a bit deeper, the 76ers are a bad situation for the young winger. Yes, he is in the NBA and will likely be on an NBA roster come October, but, his prospects of developing and sticking on a roster have taken a big hit with this latest news.

In order to establish that the 76ers are a bad fit, we should first describe what a good fit for J.P. Tokoto would be. J.P. Tokoto ideally needed a team with lots of opportunities/shots, a veteran-heavy team, and/or a team with a good history of developing players.

To start, the 76ers do pass the opportunities test. If J.P. Tokoto was frustrated with the number of shots he was getting at North Carolina, he should be happy he is going to Philly. J.P. will get an abundance of chances to take shots and he can fail without worrying about hurting his team in the win-loss column or getting benched in the future. Tokoto will get opportunities in Philly to prove himself. But that’s not all he needs to be successful in the National Basketball Association.

A veteran-heavy team would have helped J.P. as he adjusted to life in the NBA. If a good veteran, like a Caron Butler or Jared Dudley or anyone with some experience in the league, had taken J.P. under his wing, I would feel more confident that J.P. would stick in the league. Instead, in Philly, there are only two players over the age of 27 on the current roster. There will be nobody for Tokoto to turn to. It will be his job to make sure that he is mentally prepared to practice every day and to put in the work needed to stay in the NBA.

A team with a good history of developing players is probably the most important point on that list. Player development is key for J.P. First and foremost, he has to learn how to shoot a jump shot if he wants to stick in the league. He also needs to improve with his driving, passing, and even his defense as he adjusts to better competition.

The ideal team here would have been a team like the Rockets, who have a strong history of developing wings and a good D-League team that Tokoto could have visited if he wasn’t getting enough opportunities during the season. The Rockets are also a stable, successful organization. Other examples would include the Spurs, the Heat and the Warriors, who were a great help to James Michael McAdoo’s career in his first year playing professional basketball.

76ers do have an okay history at player development. Brett Brown, the head coach of the 76ers, will develop J.P. like he has with many of the young draft picks that Sam Hinkie has sent him the last few years. That still doesn’t mean I like the fit, because of the unstable nature of the 76er’s front office and organizational direction.

Brown has a great history of developing young guys and is still the coach in Philly because of his strong developmental background. One example is winger and fellow second round pick K.J. McDaniels. Last year, McDaniels progressed with Philly and averaged just under eight points for the season. However, McDaniels was shipped out of town to the Rockets and didn’t see a lot of the court with his new team, stunting his growth.

That’s my problem with the 76ers for J.P. Tokoto. The Sixers view him as an asset, nothing more and nothing less. They don’t see him as a future rotation cog or even as a member of this team in a few years. They will develop him but they won’t keep him and allow him to grow within an organization.

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J.P. needed to enter into a strong, well-run organization that would have Tokoto’s best interests at heart when making roster moves. With the Sixers, yes, Tokoto will get shots and minutes, more than he would on probably any other NBA team. But he won’t get the structure and the strong foundation that a stable organization and a veteran laden team would provide.

Tokoto has a tough road ahead of him if he wants to stay in this league. Right off the bat, it is hard for second round picks to stick in the league for long. History can tell you that. However, Tokoto has the athletic potential to make a roster and hang around in the league for a couple of years. He is a better athlete and even prospect than a typical 58th overall pick.

But, when the Sixers drafted him, I think his chances of having a long, successful NBA career took a big hit. He is just another asset to the Sixers, and while Brett Brown will coach him up, I’d be surprised if he is still on that roster in two years. That’s just how the 76ers conduct business.