Despite going undrafted in 2015, T.J. McConnell has become a productive NBA player and (unsurprisingly) a fan favorite in two seasons with the Philadelphia 76ers.
McConnell averaged 6.9 points and 6.6 assists this past season, with an assist-to-turnover ratio better than 3 to 1 as the Sixers eclipsed their highest win total since 2012-13.
Arizona Wildcats head coach Sean Miller called McConnell “the biggest bargain” in the NBA earlier this year and now an anonymous Eastern Conference center says McConnell is the “most underrated player in the league,” according to HoopsHype.
“The most underrated player in the NBA is TJ McConnell from the Sixers. If you just look at his stats, they’re never going to jump out at you, but that little f***er is tough. He’s a tough kid. I remember thinking, ‘Oh, I’ll just screen this little white boy and lay him out,’ but he fights through every screen. He’s gritty and he doesn’t back down from anyone. It’s hard being a point guard in today’s NBA because you’re going against a star most nights, but he holds his own. He demands respect every single night. If you don’t respect him entering the game, you’ll respect him by the second half.”
Arizona fans won’t be surprised by this description of McConnell. His consistent intensity is why he was beloved in Arizona even though he only played there for two seasons.
But it’s cool to see that NBA players respect that part of McConnell’s game, too. Sometimes a player’s “toughness” or “grit” is overplayed but that doesn’t seem to be the case with McConnell.
Follow Ryan Kelapire on Twitter at @RKelapire