Richaun Holmes Needs More Minutes
While Joel Embiid has dominated the vast majority of Sixers-centric headlines this season – and rightfully so – another Sam Hinkie disciple– Richaun Holmes – has been quietly turning heads during his second season.
In Holmes, the Sixers have a bouncy, efficient, and explosive forward with a penchant for offensive rebounding and an endless motor. Holmes made some noise during his rookie campaign with his tenacious play and Vine-friendly thunderous dunks, and he has picked up right where he left off in his sophomore season.
Already proficient around the rim and on the glass, Holmes clearly worked on his shot over the offseason, and the early results have been promising. His range has stretched all the way out to the three point line, where he has already made nearly as many this season (7) as he did all of last season (8), and at a much higher percentage (his 18% from last season has jumped to 35% this year).
While he is far from lethal from beyond, he is forcing defenders to respect his range, which in turn opens up the rest of the court. Plus, fans now don’t have to cringe if he pulls up from behind the line. Holmes is an extremely efficient scorer in general, as he is shooting 50% from the floor on the year; second on the Sixers behind only Jahlil Okafor.
A weakness during his rookie campaign, Holmes has also improved his rebounding, as his raw per game numbers have jumped from 2.6 to 4.5 per game. His overall rebounding rate has improved as well; up to 15% from 10.5%.
An excellent rim-roller, Holmes can impact the game in a multitude of ways, and his per-36 numbers demonstrate that: 15.2 points, 9.8 rebounds, 2.1 blocks, 1.9 assists, and 1.3 steals; pretty solid. There’s just one problem: Holmes doesn’t play 36 minutes a night – not close to it.
While Holmes’ counting statistics have increased significantly in his second season, his playing time has only increased incrementally. Holmes is seeing just 16.5 minutes per game so far this season, up from 13.8 last year. There have even been a couple instances this season where Holmes didn’t see the court.
When you consider all of the talent vying for time in Philly’s crowded frontcourt, the lack of consistent tick for Holmes can be rationalized, but it isn’t necessarily ideal for his development. The Sixers have something in Holmes, and they need to figure out exactly what that is – and if he has a future with the franchise.
Having too many talented frontcourt players is not necessarily a bad problem to have, but it is still a problem nonetheless, and thus requires a solution. Unfortunately, until a move is made to balance out the roster, frontcourt minutes will remain hard to come by.
Often an afterthought when discussions of Philadelphia’s crowded frontcourt arise, Holmes is perhaps the one that has been most impacted by it this season. Considering the potential that he has shown over his first one and a quarter seasons, Holmes should be seeing more minutes on a developing squad like the Sixers.