I was on a conference call with Sixers GM Ed Stefanski just after he took over his post with Philadelphia. Having been getting pretty chummy with the Ridiculous Upside guys, I decided to ask a D-League question of him. Here's what Mike of two years ago asked:
What are your feelings about the function of the D-League? Would it be possible that, like the Rockets, Lakers, Thunder, and Spurs, the Sixers will own and operate their own team in the future?
He focused on the latter part of that question, shooting down the idea of owning an entire D-League team just for the benefit of one guy (who, that year, would have been Marreese Speights). The words he used were "I don't see that making much sense." I'd be more interested nowadays in what his use of the D-League is in general because of the way he and team president Rod Thorn have handled rookie Craig Brackins.
Brackins was drafted by Oklahoma City in June then moved to New Orleans on draft night and finally part of the package with Darius "Dongaila" Songaila that sent Willie Green and Jason Smith away from Philly. He got sent down to Springfield for the third time this season just yesterday. As the D-League article states, this is the final time Brackins can be sent down to Springfield this season, which, for the Sixers, has just 11 games left to it. Drafted 21st overall from Iowa State, Craig went before a number of guys who have impressed this season, including Jordan Crawford, Armon Johnson, Landry Fields, and Luke Harangody.
While his upside still remains high, the holes in his game had been exposed in his junior season at ISU -- namely his lack of a defensive game and poor rebounding. It's entirely understandable (commendable, even) that Thorn and Stefanski would want him in the D-League for some proper seasoning but how they've handled it is completely atrocious.
Take a better look after the jump.
Craig Brackins has played in a total of three NBA games this season. The dates? November 24th, December 27th, and March 12th. In each of those games, all road losses by at least 15 points, Craig played at least 10 minutes. He's only played 14 games in the D-League thus far, for a grand total of 17 basketball games this season, or 554 minutes of court time. As a frame of reference, he played more than 1100 minutes in his final season as a Cyclone.
I don't understand any of this.
It's like they can't make a decision with him. Do they want to play him in garbage time against NBA talent, hopefully picking up some useful tips by being on the bench? Or do they want him to get more playing time in Springfield and work on things they specifically tell him to work on in a safe, D-League environment where he's usually the best player on the court? Right now it seems like both. And it's not working.
I double-checked Scott Schroeder (you may have heard of him) if there's a maximum number of days to a D-League assignment. He assured me there was not. So what exactly was the point of calling him up and sending him back down all those times if he's just going to sit his ass on the bench while guys like Jason Kapono, Andres Nocioni, and Tony Battie took minutes from him? Loading up on airline miles?
He's been awful in limited time with the Sixers, there's no denying that. But as I've written multiple times on SBN's Sixers blog Liberty Ballers, this team isn't more than a first round cup of coffee in the playoffs. There won't be any Sixers championship parades down Broad Street this season. So play the kid, see what he's got, and see if he's worth keeping around as more than just a warm body.
OR! Keep him in Springfield the whole year, have him call Quin Snyder every night before bed to talk about how his day went (that's what I do), and report back to Doug Collins in the offseason to see what he's worked on and what kind of minutes he should be getting in his sophomore season. Having him be with the Sixers as a warm inactive body is doing absolutely no one any good. Especially not a kid who could turn himself into a solid bench player in the NBA if he's given a chance to play basketball for more than a few minutes at a time.
Sixers management continues to prove that they are criminally behind the times when it comes to utilizing the D-League.