The Sixers open their schedule for the MGM Resorts NBA Summer League against the Boston Celtics in Las Vegas on Friday night (7:30 p.m./ESPN). They will also face the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday (11:30 p.m./ESPN) and Washington Wizards on Monday (5:30 p.m/NBCSP+).
Before the game tips off, here’s a look at the names to keep an eye on for the Sixers in Sin City.
1. Zhaire Smith
The top spot goes to the Sixers’ new resident high-flyer. Anyone under the rim should look out for a monster put-back dunk attempt, which has quickly become Smith’s signature.
While the acrobatics are awesome to watch, the Sixers will have their eyes on some more in-depth parts of Smith’s game. That starts with his ball handling and three-point shooting. The team wants to know whether the 19-year-old can deal with pressure defense at the next level when he has the ball in his grasp. Plus, will he be able to carry over his long-range shooting (45.0 percent on just 1.1 attempts per game as a freshman at Texas Tech) in the NBA?
“Just improving my game, just showing what I’ve been working on — shooting, handling the ball and defending,” Smith told reporters during the first session of summer league minicamp about what he is hoping to show in Vegas.
2. Jonah Bolden
Like everything involving the Sixers, it was a process to get Bolden back in summer league action. The team had to secure a letter of clearance from Maccabi Tel Aviv for the 2017 second-round pick to participate.
The Sixers are hoping another run in Las Vegas will help get some of the bad mojo off Bolden, who had a rough first year in Israel. In 55 total games for Maccabi Tel Aviv, Bolen averaged 7.2 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.2 steals in 20.8 minutes per game. However, the real issues were his shooting percentages. While Bolden shot 46.6 percent from the field, he only connected on 30.7 percent from distance and 52.7 percent at the free throw line.
We’ll see if another solid showing this summer for the Sixers earns Bolden a permanent stay with the team.
3. Furkan Korkmaz
Korkmaz is looking to continue his redemption summer in Las Vegas after already getting things underway during the FIBA Basketball World Cup European qualifiers. In two games for his native Turkey, Korkmaz averaged 23.7 points on 56.5 percent from the field and 42.9 percent from three-point range.
That’s the player the Sixers were hoping to see when they drafted him 26th overall in 2016. However, an adjustment to American life and NBA basketball proved slow for Korkmaz. A broken foot further hindered his development as he flip-flopped back and forth from the Sixers and 87ers.
Now back in the desert, the 20-year-old is hoping to reclaim some of that magic from last summer when he averaged 14.6 points a night on 49.2 percent shooting in Vegas.
4. Landry Shamet
The other 2018 first-round pick may be flying under the radar, but Shamet still has plenty to prove.
First up, Shamet will have to prove his 6-foot-4, 190-pound frame can hold up to the beating of professional basketball. That’s particularly true on the defensive end, where the former Shocker has known to be lacking quite a bit.
Offensively, Shamet will look to show that smooth shooting stroke (43.7 percent three-point shooter in college) and that he can play off the ball after having a usage rate of 20.7 last season for Wichita State.
5. Kevin Young
The man with all of the power in his hands. Sixers assistant Young will be the team’s head coach during the Las Vegas stint.
Young will be tasked with handing out minutes and getting players their shot all while emphasizing the Sixers’ style of play. With each of the 14 guys on the roster looking to make an impression, it will be a bit of a challenge.
“Yeah, there were really three things that we tried to focus in on — transition defense, pick-and-roll defense and being organized offensively,” Young said. “When you get out in that setting the games can get a little ratty. We want to be prepared for that with the defensive side of it with those things I just mentioned. Then offensively, we play an organized style of pace basketball during the season. That’s what we try to implement with these guys, which, again in the summer, it can be challenging. But that’s our goal.”