In the words of Sixers’ radio play-by-play host Tom McGinnis, GET EXCITED!
It’s time for Summer League basketball.
Tonight your team, your town, your minicamp Sixers kick it off against the Boston Celtics at 7:30 p.m. on ESPN, and while this year’s iteration of Summer League doesn’t feature the excitement of a top five draft pick, I think there are still some interesting players to keep an eye on.
I originally had Bolden listen as my main focus for Summer League, but with Amir Johnson re-signing, my interest wanes slightly. Brett Brown was high on Amir last season as a capable veteran backup, so it seems less likely that a guy like Bolden or Richaun Holmes plays a lot of second unit center minutes this season.
Still, you’re gonna see Bolden in some scraps with Texas A&M rookie Robert Williams, the 27th overall pick who already missed a flight and a summer league practice. The 6’10” center matches Bolden for height and is listed about 10-15 pounds heavier. He’s also going to run into Guerschon Yabusele, the experienced 6’8″ power forward who played 33 games for the Celtics last year. Semi Ojeleye, the 6’7″ defensive specialist, is also on the Boston roster.
Playing for Maccabi Tel Aviv as an overseas stash this past season, Bolden put up 6.9 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 1.5 assists in 21.1 minutes per game. He didn’t shoot the ball amazingly well and tried 2.5 three point attempts per contest, hitting at just 31.9% –
Joel Embiid he is not, but he doesn’t necessarily have to be. At the risk of running the Bolden hype train off the rails, I want to see if he can become an energetic C/PF hybrid who can spell Embiid in a smaller second unit lineup or even play alongside him. I know the addition of Nemanja Bjelica and the possibility of going to a Saric/Bjelica small ball shooting look makes that unlikely right away, but it’s something to think about for the not-so-distant future:
I think I’d prefer to see Bolden start at center with Cam Oliver playing power forward, but Keith Pompey says he’ll be at the four tonight:
The Sixers starting lineup for tomorrow: Demetrius Jackson, Zhaire Smith, Furkan Korkmaz, Jonah Bolden and Chris McCullough, Keith Pompey reports. Zhaire has been impressing ahead of his summer league debut: https://t.co/Zdv9KYFi8y
— Philly.com Sports (@phillysport) July 6, 2018
That’s fine. As long as we get a good sample size of Bolden also playing the five, I’d have no problem seeing him out there battling with Yabusele and others.
Specifically, I think the shooting form and shot selection is probably going to be the most interesting thing to evaluate. Does he try some three pointers and mid-range attempts? Or does he use his burst and athleticism to do most of his damage around the rim?
I wrote last week about his minicamp form, how the shot looked pretty good, if not mechanical. He was squaring up to the basket, setting his feet, and not putting up a slow and junky release. I thought it was fairly smooth, and I’m intrigued to see how he looks with an actual human being defending him. Every capable NBA wing has to have some semblance of three point shooting in 2018, whether we like it or not.
Defensively, we’ll see how he does against borderline NBA talent. The Celtics only had one pick in this year’s draft, and they took Williams, so we’re not gonna see Smith guard another similar level first round prospect in the Trae Young/Grayson Allen vein. What you might get is Smith seeing a bit of Jabari Bird and Kadeem Allen, second-year guards who were on two-way contracts and got G-League action with the Maine Red Claws last season. Smith might run into Ojeleye, which would be a phenomenal test offensively. On the other side of the floor, I don’t see him matching up with the bigger power forwards unless the Sixers do some 2-4 switching to see if he can handle a guy with a couple of inches and a 10-20 pound difference, the same way the Sixers used Robert Covington’s flexibility last year.
It’s Summer League, might as well experiment and try different looks.
Wouldn’t mind seeing the ball in his hands early and often. He is, after all, a first round pick, which I think people seem to forget since the draft-night trade of Mikal Bridges kind of overshadowed what the Sixers did beyond the top-20.
Some of the negatives on his scouting report were his lack of a first step off the dribble and his struggles with finishing in traffic, so I’m interested to see how aggressive he is at attacking the rim and whether he tries to get some shots up, or if he’s more deferential in a pass-first, kick it out to the perimeter kind of way. He did have some foot injuries in college, so I do wonder if there’s any lingering discomfort there. That’s what probably made him a bit of a question mark in the draft.
But people who know him and watched him at Wichita State describe as a mature player and a smart decision maker, so we’ll see if those qualities show up out west.
— Jessica Camerato (@JessicaCamerato) July 3, 2018
Can he create his own shot? How does his handle look? Does he have more muscle on that frame?
I like Furkan as a prospect, but the problem is that I think he gets clumped into that group of TLC and Justin Anderson and Robert Covington as catch and shoot wings who can’t really create their own shot or do much off the dribble.
Furkan quietly had a really nice summer with Turkey during FIBA World Cup qualifiers. He put up 21 points in a win against Ukraine, plus 23 in a dominant performance vs. Sweden:
If nothing else, you’d expect a confident Furkan coming into Summer League, just based on how well he played for his country in June. The Sixers need second team scoring, and beyond Wilson Chandler and Bjelica, there are still a lot of question marks on paper.
Diamonds in the rough?
Beyond those four guys, I’d keep an eye on Oliver, who I thought looked pretty good in the very small window of 5v5 minicamp action that we saw. Undrafted in 2017 out of Nevada, he played for the 87ers last season and put up 10 and 8 in 24.6 minutes per game last season, 15 of those appearances coming off the bench.
Isaiah Miles, the former Saint Joe’s standout, is back for another summer run. He was probably the second-best player on last year’s July squad behind Markelle Fultz.
Here’s the full roster, which will be coached by assistant Kevin Young: