5 Sixers summer league observations: Another cold-shooting night to finish pool play

5 Sixers summer league observations: Another cold-shooting night to finish pool play

After a day off, the Sixers got back to work at the MGM Resorts NBA Summer League.

The brief break didn’t do much for the team’s level of performance as the Sixers suffered an 87-75 loss to the Washington Wizards at the Thomas & Mack Center.

The Sixers turned in a dismal offensive effort by shooting 34.2 percent from the field and 24.0 percent from three-point range to fall to 0-3 in Las Vegas. They will have another short rest before taking part in the tournament portion of the event later this week.

Let’s take a look at five observations from Monday’s action:

1. Sixers assistant coach Kevin Young came to Vegas with plans on following Brett Brown’s pace-and-space motto on offense. The catch is that only works if you have both elements, and this summer league squad is clearly lacking in the space department.

This Sixers roster just doesn’t have enough shot makers to keep up with the furious style of play that is natural for every summer league game.

Look no further than the first half on Monday. The Sixers shot 8 for 38 from the field (21.1 percent) and 2 for 15 (13.3 percent) from beyond the arc. That was enough to equal a 41-27 deficit at halftime, which was too much to overcome despite a push after intermission.

“As it pertains to this particular game, we did exactly what you said, we were trying to grind our way through the game itself. Couldn’t make a shot,” Young told reporters. “And then how that pertains to this actual tournament is — I actually thought we played well tonight, and so hopefully we can carry some of that over.”

The mound of missed shots was just the latest in a string of woeful offensive showings from the Sixers in Las Vegas, particularly from three-point range. The team has now connected on just 22 of 91 from deep, which includes Furkan Korkmaz’s 8-for-14 scorcher on Friday.

2. Speaking of Korkmaz, the Turkish swingman couldn’t recapture that magic he displayed against the Boston Celtics.

He managed to score just a single point (0 of 9 shooting) in addition to four rebounds, two assists and two turnovers in 23 minutes. That comes on the heels of a four-point night against the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday.

All NBA players have an abundance of talent that allowed them to reach that level. The difference between real contributors and guys just biding their time on a roster is consistency. Korkmaz is still searching for the ability to make an impact on a nightly basis.

3. Throughout the pre-draft process with the Sixers, first-round pick Zhaire Smith was frequently put through drills and situations in which he served as the primary playmaker. The team already knew about his immense athleticism and tough defense, but what else could he bring to the table?

Smith showed a bit of that against the Wizards. With his offense lagging (two points on 1 for 9 shooting), the Texas Tech product had to lean on setting up his teammates. And while he finished with only three assists, that had more to do with the group’s inability to finish.

Just look at these two beauties on the fast break.

If the 19-year-old plans on seeing the floor as a rookie, he’s going to have to bring more of that to the table.

4. While Smith is likely a lock to be on the team when training camp rolls around, Jonah Bolden’s future remains up in the air. The big man proclaimed he was coming overseas to join the Sixers for the upcoming season and Monday he showed more of the player the franchise would like to add to the mix.

Bolden finished with 10 points and nine boards. He made 3 of his 8 shots, including 1 of 2 from three-point range in the defeat.

The 22-year-old still needs to get a handle of NBA defense (five fouls) and take care of the ball (three turnovers), but more nights like this one will go toward his case of being in Philadelphia for the 2018-19 campaign.

5. Despite the blowout, the Sixers still somehow managed to have the game’s best highlights.

Chris McCullough absolutely destroyed a challenger at the rim on this fast-break dunk.

Meanwhile, Smith lobbed one up for a Cameron Oliver throwdown.

McCullough finished with a team-high 20 points, eight rebounds and three blocks in 22 minutes off the bench.

The No. 15 overall pick in the 2018 draft, Troy Brown Jr., scored a game-high 23 points for the Wizards on 22 shot attempts. He also added eight boards and two assists. 

Teammate Devin Robinson wasn't far behind with 22 points for the Wiz.

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LA Clippers owner Steve Ballmer takes tanking jab at Sixers

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LA Clippers owner Steve Ballmer takes tanking jab at Sixers

The Sixers have been minding their own business this summer.

We touched on that earlier this week as players from one Eastern Conference contender after another opened up about how their respective teams were going to reach the NBA Finals (see story).

That’s fine. You would expect those squads to feel confident in their ability, especially now that the conference’s boogie man, LeBron James, has moved on to Hollywood.

But then the Sixers had a grenade lobbed their way from an unlikely source.

Speaking at an event dubbed “The Playbook,” essentially a pep rally for LA Clippers fans to speak with members of the front office, owner Steve Ballmer assured supporters in the crowd that the franchise wasn’t going to adopt a tanking method to get back in contention like the Sixers.

“That ain’t us. Nuh-uh, no way,” Ballmer said, per the Los Angeles Times. “People can do it their way. We’re going to be good our way. We’re not going to show up and suck for a year, two years. I think we got higher expectations on us than the long, hard five, six years of absolute crap like the 76ers put in. How could we look you guys in the eye if we did that to you?”

Wow, OK.

Let’s look at the fact that the Sixers’ history, which includes three championships and a laundry list of some of the game's all-time greats, provided the organization with the leeway to undertake such a massive overhaul in a promise to reclaim the glory days. 

The Clippers, on the other hand, have just 13 playoff appearances in their 48-year history and zero titles. 

But this isn’t to beat up on the Clippers. They had to dig themselves out of the mess former owner Donald Sterling created and it can’t be easy always operating in the “Showtime” shadow cast by the Lakers.

This is more about what exactly Ballmer has accomplished — or hasn’t accomplished — in his brief time running a franchise to take a shot at the Sixers from across the country.

Since paying $2 billion for the Clippers prior to the start of the 2014-15 season (one year after the Sixers started “The Process”), the team has actually taken a wrong turn. In that ’14-15 campaign, they won 56 games and reached the Western Conference semifinals. The 2015-16 season produced 53 wins and a first-round exit. In 2016-17, LA registered 51 victories before bowing out in the first round again. Last season, the Clippers had a 42-40 record (two of those losses came to the Sixers) and missed the postseason.

Plus, in just the past calendar year under Ballmer’s watch, the Clips have lost their big three of Chris Paul (trade), Blake Griffin (trade) and DeAndre Jordan (free agent).

That doesn’t exactly scream team on the rise.

Ballmer may indeed have a plan to make sure the Clippers get back in the hunt. After all, he does have respected basketball minds Jerry West and Lawrence Frank handling front-office business and Doc Rivers still orchestrating things on the sidelines. And L.A., while now missing its star trio, does have some intriguing players on the roster that could surprise a few people.

Still, that collection was projected by ESPN to finish with a 35-47 record in 2018-19 and miss the playoffs again in the stacked Western Conference.

With the Clippers staring a decline right in the face and the Sixers boasting two franchise cornerstones in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons along with other solid pieces from Sam Hinkie’s process, it appears a bit misguided for Ballmer to take such a swipe.

Ballmer might not want the Clippers to tank under his leadership. The thing is, the organization might be forced into that method regardless.

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Sixers hire Lindsey Harding as 2nd female full-time scout in NBA from WNBA

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Sixers hire Lindsey Harding as 2nd female full-time scout in NBA from WNBA

The Sixers have made a historic hire in their scouting department.

The team has hired former WNBA star Lindsey Harding as a full-time scout starting next season. 

"I think when you have this goal in mind, your gender shouldn't even matter," Harding told ESPN’s Ramona Shelbourne. "It should be about if you can do it, if you're good, you're experienced, if you know what you're doing and what you're talking about."

Harding, a Duke product and the No. 1 overall pick in 2007 WNBA draft, is just the second woman to be hired by an NBA team as a scout after a career in the WNBA. Jenny Boucek, who is now an assistant coach with the Dallas Mavericks, was the first former WNBA player to be hired as a scout back in 2006 by the Seattle SuperSonics. Becky Hammon, one of Harding's former opponents who urged Harding to pursue this path, was hired as an assistant coach with the San Antonio Spurs in 2014. Hammon has since been interviewed for the Milwaukee Bucks' GM job and been promoted to Gregg Popovich's top assistant.

Harding completed the NBA's Basketball Operations Associates Program last season after retiring in 2017. The 34-year-old guard spent nine seasons in the WNBA and represented Belarus in the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

"Lindsey has quickly become one of the game's bright young minds in basketball operations," Sixers head coach and interim GM Brett Brown said to Shelbourne. "Having graduated from the NBA's Basketball Operations Associates Program last season, Lindsey is applying the same grit and basketball IQ she used as a player in her move to the front office. We look forward to the work Lindsey will do to help grow our program and further solidify a culture of winning.

"It's no secret how much I value the culture we've built in Philadelphia and how much a family-like atmosphere means to our program. Lindsey is a leader, and she is a welcomed addition to the 76ers family. I look forward to working with her."

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