WHILE THERE have been a lot of changes concerning the 76ers this season, no position has been as tumultuous as point guard. Tony Wroten started the season at the position while Michael Carter-Williams recovered from offseason shoulder surgery. When MCW came back, Wroten became his backup until he suffered a season-ending torn ACL. Carter-Williams, of course, was dealt at the NBA trade deadline.
Others have manned the position at one time or another, including Alexey Shved, Tim Frazier and Larry Drew. JaKarr Sampson started a game there, and, most recently, Ish Smith and Isaiah Canaan have held down the fort.
Now it seems as if there will be more change. After taking a jump shot in the fourth quarter on Wednesday in Washington, Canaan crumpled to the floor, holding his right ankle. He tried to get up and play, but went down again before being helped to the locker room. After the game in the hall near the team locker room, Canaan was given a boot and crutches. As he hobbled to the locker room, he and coach Brett Brown spoke briefly. Brown's reaction indicated that something was seriously wrong, such as a broken bone or ligament damage.
Also, Canaan tweeted hours after the game: "If it isn't one thing it's another. Everything happens for a reason. Just have to trust God's Plan."
But yesterday, Brown said the news was much better than expected: Canaan has a sprained foot and will be out for at least two games.
Canaan has started 12 of his 22 games for the Sixers since coming from the Houston Rockets at the trade deadline when K.J. McDaniels was shipped to the Rockets.
His injury means most of the minutes at lead guard will fall to Smith, who has played very well since joining the team. In his 21 games, Smith has averaged 12.8 points and six assists. He has developed a productive relationship with Nerlens Noel and perhaps has played himself into a role with the organization during its continued rebuild. Sampson, who hasn't played point guard since he was a kid, probably will back up Smith.
Brown thinks the NBA is a point-guard-driven league. He hasn't had the luxury of stability at the spot all season long and acknowledged it has been tough.
"I can't think of a more difficult challenge than having a rotating door at the point-guard position," he said. "Immediately, you're stripped down, as vanilla as vanilla gets. There is no continuity, no familiarity among the players. I give the rest of the teammates a lot of credit to show the patience that they have shown.
"For me, it's beyond frustrating and challenging to try and close close games out or make subtle adjustments. So we've had to go with a very simple package, more so offensively than defensively."
Still, Brown said he is excited to embark on these last six games of the season. His excitement stems from the fact that his club will play most of them against teams either competing for a playoff spot or gearing up for postseason.
"I think it's fantastic," Brown said. "I really get excited and I talk about it so much, and they hear me, and I'm privileged to have a bunch of these types of experiences, explain it's a different sport. The playoffs aren't even the same sport. They're seeing it, they're feeling it. They are on the battlefield and they have to navigate through this whole environment. This is a wonderful opportunity that we have a bunch of these things coming up."