If you stayed up into the early hours of Sunday morning on the East Coast to watch the Sixers take on the Lakers in their second MGM Resorts Summer League game, you got to see a number of incredible highlight-reel plays from Zhaire Smith.
However, you didn’t get to see much in the way of outside shooting. The Sixers shot just 38.3 percent from the floor and made only 3 of 29 three-pointers in a 96-79 loss to the Lakers.
Here are five observations from the Sixers’ defeat:
1. Friday night wasn’t a bad debut for Smith, but he showed lot more of why the Sixers think he could eventually be a special player against the Lakers.
Smith scored his first basket of the night on a nice pump fake and drive to the rim for an authoritative dunk.
Later in the first quarter, Smith made an impressive play in transition, attacking the lane and dropping off a no-look pass to Cameron Oliver for a dunk.
At the start of the second, Smith found Oliver again after getting the fast break started with a steal, and Oliver’s dunk was high on style points.
Smith vs. Villanova product Josh Hart was a fun matchup to watch. Hart has a full season of NBA experience, but Smith held his own. Overall, Smith defended well, although he did get caught up on a couple screens.
Hart looked like the best player on the floor, showcasing his versatile offensive game. He finished with 24 points, most of it against defenders other than Smith.
While it will continue to take time for Smith to get comfortable on the wing, he cuts well off the ball and seems to have a good feel for how to fit in an offense. The Sixers made a concerted effort to involve Smith more offensively.
“We're trying to get him to be as aggressive as he can," Sixers summer league head coach Kevin Young told reporters after the game. "Especially with Shamet going out, there's more opportunity for someone to be that offensive guy. I don't think it's innately in his DNA, but this is a great environment for him to explore that."
In the second half, Smith forced a few shots and missed a couple open three-pointers. But he kept making incredibly athletic plays, throwing down a putback dunk, slamming in a lob off a baseline out-of bounds play and converting an and-one with a smart cut to the rim and strong finish.
The hang time on the lob was absolutely ridiculous.
The rookie getting 🆙 pic.twitter.com/346nwYaT9c— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) July 8, 2018
He scored a team-high 16 points, shooting 6 for 13 from the floor and 3 for 3 at the foul line, with three assists and three steals.
"First one I might be a little nervous," Smith said after the game, "but this game I was relaxed. Talked to Coach [Brett] Brown. He said I played like a 'C' last game, try to get to a 'B.' I did good last game but just do better and be relaxed, play like yourself. It's the summer league; you're going to get better and you're going to learn."
Smith probably won’t have many (if any) plays called for him in the regular season, so it will be important for him to contribute as a cutter, offensive rebounder and three-point shooter.
2. Furkan Korkmaz couldn’t do it again. The night after his incredible 40-point performance against the Celtics, Korkmaz struggled to find that same shooting stroke against the Lakers. He had four points, shooting 1 for 9 overall and 0 for 7 from long range.
He missed an open three-pointer from the right wing on the Sixers’ first possession, and that set the tone. To be fair to Korkmaz, the Sixers’ offense didn’t generate many open looks for him, so he had to try to create scoring opportunities on his own.
"In the game, I wasn't feeling good, wasn't feeling in shape," Korkmaz said. "It was back-to-back games. Everybody was focused but sometimes you are making shots, sometimes you are missing. Today was maybe one of my worst games."
Can Korkmaz earn a spot in the rotation? He obviously shouldn’t be judged solely on this rough outing or on his offensive explosion Friday night. But he’ll have another opportunity to impress Brett Brown and make a case for earning minutes off the bench in the Sixers’ next contest Monday night against the Wizards at 5:30 p.m (NBCSP+).
3. Like in the first game, it was a mixed bag from Jonah Bolden. On a positive note, he seemed comfortable grabbing rebounds and quickly looking up-court to start fast breaks.
But Bolden couldn’t ever assert his will on the game. He’s 3 for 10 from the floor overall in summer league. A second quarter air ball from long range was a low moment. Just like last summer, there’s a lot to like about his game, but it also seems rough around the edges. He's said he plans on playing for the Sixers this season, but you'd think the team would feel a lot better about the idea of bringing him over if his game was more refined.
Bolden had five points, four rebounds and three steals in 23 minutes.
4. The Sixers’ offense was not the prettiest thing to watch, which you expect in the second game of summer league.
Down 17 early in the third quarter, the Sixers found a little more of a rhythm to avoid being completely blown off the floor, though the Lakers extended their lead late after the Sixers cut it to single-digits at one stage. Demetrius Jackson had a couple strong drives to the hoop in the second half, while Askia Booker had nine points on 4 for 11 shooting after going scoreless against Boston.
Oliver was another bright spot, posting 12 points and eight rebounds.
5. It’s a shame for the Sixers that Landry Shamet’s summer league campaign was cut short by a right ankle injury (see story). You sense that Shamet, a smart playmaker at Wichita, could’ve helped get the Sixers’ offense flowing.
It also just would’ve been great to experiment more playing Shamet both on and off-ball. For Shamet, it’s a missed opportunity to acclimate to the increased physicality of the NBA and start to find his niche at the next level, although he said he can still gain something from his summer league experience.
"Just watching and learning," Shamet said. "I've been in this situation before where I've had to watch with my foot injuries. There's a lot of information still to be taken in, lot of learning. That'll be no problem, it'll just be something where I continue to take information in."