This is part two of a season-ending series looking back at each player’s 2017-2018 campaign.
Did Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot take a step forward this year?
Was it a step back?
Or was the difference between his rookie and sophomore seasons ultimately negligible?
I’d probably go with the third option here, if we’re simply running down the numbers. Statistically speaking, the Sixers’ 23-year-old French wing slightly regressed in almost every category, including points, minutes, and field goal percentage:
No advanced stats jump off the page. He logged a decent 102.7 DEFRTG, about middle of the pack on this squad. Few assists, few rebounds, few steals, and few turnovers.
TLC did shoot the three pointer slightly better this year, up to 33.5% from a rookie effort of 31.1%. But more often than not, he was missing open shots and earning grumbles and moans from the Wells Fargo Center crowd.
When asked about his season performance during Friday exit interviews, Luwawu-Cabarrot said he needed to “be better everywhere.” –
“Be more consistent with my shot, play better defense, be better with the ball, work on my vision, work on my handle – all of the basic stuff.”
Similar to fellow struggler Jerryd Bayless, TLC had a nagging injury of his own that affected 2017-18 production and ultimately shut him down towards the end of the winter, resulting in him missing the final 17 games of the regular season and logging zero playoff minutes. The patellar tendinitis issue popped up in the summer, causing him to miss the 2017 Eurobasket competition. It also limited his training camp when he returned to Philadelphia.
Regarding the injury, TLC says he “feels really good right now,” as though his “jump” and his “speed” are back to full capacity.
It’s hard to know how much it affected him throughout the season. TLC endured some wild statistical swings over five months, shooting 37% in October, 42.4% in November, 29.3% in December, 40.3% in January, and 18.8% in very limited February minutes.
He went through a terrible five-game stretch in December when he couldn’t get anything to fall, shooting 7-27 overall and 0-11 from deep. Not once that month did he reach double digit points.
TLC looked much better when a spate of January injuries opened up a starting role for him, and he went on a six game run averaging 29.8 minutes and 11.6 PPG while shooting 42.5% overall and 47% from three:
That 20 point effort in Memphis was his best performance of the season, by far, but 23 turnovers and a Ben Simmons clunker ultimately doomed the Sixers to a horrendous road loss.
One of the issues the Sixers had trouble with early in the season was the lack of bench scoring and a roster that included a bunch of catch and shoot guys, none whom really grabbed the bull by the horns. TLC, Bayless, Justin Anderson, and Furkan Korkmaz were sort of the same player – non-dribbling, serviceable bench options that never rose above the group and cemented their individual role on the team. Luwawu-Cabarrot was just sort of “there” after most of the fan base expected him to take a significant jump after a strong finish to his rookie season.
Maybe the stakes were higher this year. The team was better, so minutes were harder to come by. Expectations changed. You could say he got caught up in all of that, for sure.
He’s under contract next year for $1.4 million, so his salary certainly does not break the bank. But the Sixers need bench scoring, and with the futures of Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova in doubt, plus the total question mark that is Markelle Fultz, TLC’s role is anything but certain right now. He’ll go back to France for a few weeks before returning to Philly to continue work outs.
Bryan Colangelo was asked about Luwawu-Cabarrot at his end-of-season press conference and did admit that the injury was a setback. He mentioned that TLC will likely playing for France in international qualifiers this summer and feels as though Korkmaz is more likely to play summer league than TLC.
Overall, zero steps forward, zero steps back for TLC, who showed some moments this year but ultimately didn’t do much to move the needle. The Sixers need improved wing depth, and it’s hard to know if already exists somewhere on the roster.