So far this year Chris Wilcox is averaging 1.7 points per minute (8 points in about 4.6 minutes). If he played 48 minutes that would be over 83 points a game! Free Wilcox!
Ok, so that might not be sustainable. Small sample size and all that. The point remains, when he's been on the court he's been productive. So why hasn't he played more than 5 minutes yet? I'm sure some of it has to do with the lingering injury that kept him out of the preseason. But it also has to do with Doc's preferred rotations so far.
Currently the "big man" rotation consists of Garnett, Bass, Sullinger, and Jeff Green. That means beyond KG we have two somewhat undersized power forwards and a guy that really should be playing more at the 3. Doc has apparently made a decision to go with small ball lineups in order to combat the Miami Heat and other non-traditional lineups in the league. Plus having Sullinger and Bass playing so well kind of complicates things a bit for Doc (in a good way).
Granted, Wilcox was a minimum salary pickup for a reason (though health concerns certainly factored in). He's not supposed to be a starter or a star. Even in his best years he only averaged 14 points per game and he's always been a bit streaky with his production. But as a backup big man that has good size and a good motor, he's a very valuable guy to have around.
Provided he's healthy and in shape, it seems like he should be getting more minutes. If Doc is determined to go smallball, then Chris can play that way. He's the best running big man the team has and he can play the 4 or the 5. He's been in the system for over a year now, so he's got to have the defensive rotations down pretty well by now. When Sully and Bass are struggling with players longer than them (and I've seen more of their shots blocked than I'd like to this year), Wilcox is a logical substitute.
I'll take a moment and mention the name Darko Milicic here as well. Darko is a bit of a wildcard in that we don't know exactly what we'll get out of him. But he played pretty well in preseason I thought, and yet his playing time has completely disappeared due to Doc's 8-9 man rotation. There's only so many minutes to go around and guys like Sullinger, Bass, and Green are too good to limit. But you'd think that from time to time we might need a more traditional center out there.
Still, I'd start with giving Wilcox some more minutes at the expense of anyone having a bad game (Jeff Green?) or facing a matchup problem due to height (the Sixers do have Hawes and Lavoy Allen). He obviously is hungry to play and has proven that he'll play with hustle and energy. We would benefit from him running the floor with our guards and frankly he's earned the minutes from what we've seen on the court.
Once a blog named itself "Free Darko" and turned Milicic into an internet legend. I don't have any aspirations for doing that for Wilcox, but if a fan's voice means anything, I'd like to start the digital version of a Free Wilcox chant. Give the bearded bruiser a chance Doc!