Should Sixers' Jonah Bolden have been a lottery pick?

Should Sixers' Jonah Bolden have been a lottery pick?

If you were impressed with the play of Jonah Bolden during summer league, you're not the only one.

The 21-year-old Australian forward also caught the eye of the Ringer's Jonathan Tjarks. The site did an "A Way-Too-Early 2017 NBA Redraft" based on the NBA summer league. A little silly, but both Tjarks and fellow writer Kevin O'Connor acknowledged the silliness of it all. (And don't worry, they still had the Sixers snagging Markelle Fultz No. 1 overall.)

Tjarks chose Bolden, a second-round pick by the Sixers (36th overall), at No. 13 overall.

"Bigs who can switch screens, shoot threes, block shots, and make plays with the ball should not have fallen to the second round," Tjarks, who thought highly of Bolden before the draft, writes. "Bolden gave Celtics 7-footer Ante Zizic trouble out in Vegas, and if Bolden can play the 5, he opens up a lot of interesting lineup possibilities."

Bolden averaged 8.7 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.8 steals and 1.3 blocks in eight games (three starts) in the Utah and Las Vegas summer leagues combined. He shot 31 percent from three (11 of 35), which isn't eye-popping but for a 6-foot-10 player capable of playing in the post, it shows promise. He was also extremely active defensively, switching onto guard and getting deflections and blocks as Tjarks mentioned.

Bolden finished high school in the U.S. and went to UCLA. After not playing his first year for academic reasons, Bolden was unhappy with his role when he finally got to play. He decided to jump ship and play in Serbia instead of finishing out his season with the Bruins. 

In his one season with Beogard, Bolden averaged 12.9 points and 7.2 rebounds a game while shooting 42 percent from three on his way to receiving the Adriatic League's Top Prospect Award. That award has gone to the likes of Denver Nuggets budding star Nikola Jokic and, of course, the Sixers' Dario Saric.

The Sixers are in an interesting spot with Bolden. Since he was a second-round pick, he's eligible to be on a two-way contract. That would allow the team to stash Bolden on their G-League affiliate the Delaware 87ers while still being available for the Sixers. 

The lure of possibly playing in the NBA this season rather than return to Serbia where he is under contract with Beogard would likely be enough for Bolden to go with a two-way deal. The Sixers would also have to buy out the rest of his deal overseas.

"I could start today," Bolden said the day after the draft of when he'd like to play for the Sixers. "But there's uncertainty with that. The organization drafted me with a plan and I'm going to stick to the plan. I'm subject to a European contract at the moment but whatever the organization wants and they say is what'll happen." 

Did Bolden do enough in summer league play to alter the Sixers' plans? Training camp will go a long way in answering that question.

5 observations from Sixers' win over Spurs in Utah Jazz Summer League

5 observations from Sixers' win over Spurs in Utah Jazz Summer League

SALT LAKE CITY – Two close losses did not turn into a third one for the Sixers. They closed out their stint in the Utah Jazz Summer League on a satisfying note, rallying in the fourth quarter to beat the San Antonio Spurs 94-86 (see Instant Replay).

The Sixers came out on top without top pick Markelle Fultz in the lineup. Fultz did not start or play because the coaching staff decided to rest him ahead of the Las Vegas Summer League this weekend. In Fultz's absence, the Sixers' second unit stepped up to the plate and carried their team to victory.

Led by 18 points from Isaiah Miles, the Sixers finished with 66 bench points. Four of the six players who came off the bench scored in double figures including Jonah Bolden (16), Brandon Austin (15) and Isaiah Briscoe (10). With the spark they provided, the Sixers surged past the Spurs midway through the fourth quarter and never looked back.

Here are five other observations from Thursday's game:

• Once Furkan Korkmaz fully gets his legs under him, the Turkish rookie has the potential to impact a game across the board. Korkmaz did a little bit of everything against the Spurs on Thursday (see story). He stole the ball. He set up teammates for easy baskets with crisp passing. Most importantly, he helped key the decisive 11-0 fourth quarter run that put the Sixers ahead for good with a timely three pointer.

• After suffering a fourth-quarter collapse against the Celtics, the Sixers showed mental toughness in the fourth quarter both against the Jazz and the Spurs. They used a rally to threaten Utah in the final minute and then finished off a rally against San Antonio. This could bode well in tight games in Las Vegas.

• Bryn Forbes has the makings of being a dangerous shooter for San Antonio. Forbes scorched the nets from the perimeter in a win over the Celtics on Wednesday. The Sixers did a good job of holding him in check. Forbes did finish with 21 points, but he went just 3 of 10 from outside.

• The Sixers did a good job of getting out in transition, largely because of their success with forcing turnovers. They finished with 15 fastbreak points while limiting the Spurs to just six points in transition.

• Offensive rebounding is a strength for this Sixers' summer league squad. The Sixers corralled 10 offensive boards and finished with 16 second-chance points. It marked the second straight night they held an advantage over their opponent in these categories.

Sixers see progress from Furkan Korkmaz during win over Spurs in Utah finale

Sixers see progress from Furkan Korkmaz during win over Spurs in Utah finale

SALT LAKE CITY – There's much more to what Furkan Korkmaz brings to a game than what can be found by examining a box score.

One of the reasons that the Sixers drafted Korkmaz and worked to bring him over from Europe is his versatility. Korkmaz is a sharpshooter on the surface. Dig a little deeper and you will also find a rookie forward who is willing to pester opponents on defense and set up teammates for quality shots.

It helped Korkmaz have a bigger impact in the Sixers' 94-86 victory over the Spurs to close out their final day at the Utah Jazz Summer League on Thursday (see Instant Replay). He finished with 10 points, four rebounds, three assists and three steals in 29 minutes.

Korkmaz tries to influence every part of the game while he's on the court because it fits with what he wants to accomplish as a basketball player.

"Everyday I try to think about it, how to get better and better,” Korkmaz said. “So I have to be better. I know that.”

Count the Sixers' coaching staff among the believers who see him reaching his desired destination. They love his fluidity on the court. They see a player with a diverse skill set who plays at an effective pace and has a feel for the game.

For the Sixers, it adds up to a player who has barely even tugged on the ribbon holding together the package holding his potential.

“As each minute adds up, as each touch adds up, as each shot adds up, as each possession adds up, he's just going to become more comfortable,” Sixers Utah Jazz Summer League coach Billy Lange said. “Then you're going to just see the whole skill set he has."

Korkmaz can expect to see big minutes and get plays drawn up for him when the team starts playing in the Las Vegas Summer League this weekend. Lange believes keeping Korkmaz in the game and letting him play through mistakes will make him a better player and build his confidence.

For his part, Korkmaz wants to reward that confidence through applying himself on both ends of the court.

"It's not just about shooting,” Korkmaz said. “It's also defense. [Even] if your man scores over you, you just have to keep up and try to give 100 percent."

Miles stepping up
For the second consecutive game, the second unit gave the Sixers a major lift in the second half and opened the door for a fourth-quarter rally. The Sixers outscored San Antonio 66-33 in bench points.

Isaiah Miles took the lead in fueling the comeback. He finished with a team-high 18 points on 7 of 10 shooting and seven rebounds in just 22 minutes off the bench. His biggest highlight came on a reverse layup in the fourth quarter that put the Sixers ahead for good during a decisive 11-0 run.

Miles, a rookie forward out of Saint Joseph's, has impressed the Sixers' coaches with his determination and motor whenever he steps onto the court.

"He's a fighter,” Lange said. “What I mean by fight is he's not going to look at the score and let that dictate his attitude. He just goes in and plays with a strong pace about him, just attacking the offensive glass. He's a confident shooter. He's got a high motor on the offensive end."

Miles joined the Sixers’ summer league squad a full season removed from a breakout senior campaign with St. Joe’s. He led the Hawks in both scoring and rebounding in 2015-16, averaging 18.1 points and 8.1 rebounds per game.

Dominant defense
Second-chance points kept the Sixers in the game during a close loss to the Utah Jazz on Wednesday. This time, against the Spurs, the Sixers used their defensive pressure to create extra shots and force San Antonio into a ton of mistakes.

The Sixers forced 25 turnovers to offset 19 of their own. They took full advantage of those miscues, scoring 31 points off of turnovers. The Spurs, on the other hand, totaled just 14 points off of turnovers.

Korkmaz and Jonah Bolden set the tone, finishing with a team-high three steals apiece. Seven different players recorded a steal for the Sixers.