The Sixers’ summer league campaign fizzled out Sunday night with an 82-73 loss to the Memphis Grizzles at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.
After an 0-3 start, the Sixers made a surprising run to the quarterfinals, but the Grizzlies ended any hope of a championship run.
As they have throughout summer league play, the Sixers started slow, falling behind 26-11 early, and the Grizzles stayed in command for most of the night.
Here are five observations from the loss:
1. Furkan Korkmaz became the face of the summer league Sixers, and he seemed to embrace that responsibility Sunday. Korkmaz appears comfortable with a constant green light on offense, which bodes well for him possibly taking on some of Marco Belinelli’s “instant offense” role off the bench. That’s not to say Korkmaz will singlehandedly replace Belinelli, but if his aggressive mindset and scoring ability could translate off the bench, it would be a big boost for the Sixers.
Along with his three-point shooting (4 for 9 from long range), Korkmaz also showed a soft touch on a couple first-quarter floaters.
After a 19-point effort Saturday against the Bucks, Korkmaz posted 18 points, five rebounds and three assists. Outside of clunkers in the Sixers’ second and third games, when he shot a combined 1 for 18 from the floor, Korkmaz had a stellar summer league.
2. We’ve already talked a lot about the ways Zhaire Smith can refine his game as he works on becoming an NBA wing after playing at power forward in college. One of the where Smith can improve is his finishing around the rim. He has the explosiveness to get into great positions, but he doesn’t have much variety or touch near the basket. On one play in the middle of the first quarter, Smith took the ball into a crowd of defenders, twisted into the air and flipped up a shot more in hope than anything else. His first instinct is to dunk the ball, which is certainly not a bad thing, but a little nuance would help him in the NBA, as would a dependable floater.
Smith continues to show good vision and feel for the game, like when he found Isaiah Miles inside with this no-look dish.
Smith had five points on 2 for 8 shooting, four rebounds and four assists. His only field goals were a late breakaway dunk and a patented putback slam.
3. Jonah Bolden admitted Saturday night he hasn’t been satisfied with his summer league performances, citing his inconsistency. After his best showing of this summer league campaign on Saturday, with 13 points and eight rebounds, Bolden was disappointing against the Grizzlies.
In 24 minutes, Bolden had five points and four rebounds and was a minus-22. His tendency to disappear for extended stretches is somewhat concerning, since, along with his shooting ability and defensive versatility, you’d want Bolden to provide energy off the bench in the NBA.
4. At just 18 years old, Jaren Jackson Jr. is seriously impressive. The No. 4 pick in the draft immediately took control of the game, with seven points, three rebounds and a block in the first three-plus minutes, helping the Grizzlies take an 11-2 lead. In that stretch, he made a three-pointer from the right wing, blocked a seemingly wide-open Bolden at the wing and finished inside with his left hand. Jackson posted 14 points, eight rebounds and four blocks.
He has a promising future, but Jackson has the versatile, modern game to make a significant immediate impact.
5. Another Jackson, the Sixers’ Demetrius, has quietly been solid throughout summer league. He hasn’t done anything that screams NBA player, and at 6-foot-1 it’s a struggle for to find space inside, but Jackson, who entered Sunday night’s game averaging 7.6 points, 5.0 assists and 3.8 rebounds per contest, has been a dependable playmaker in his third summer league campaign. He had 11 points, two rebounds and two assists this game.
For Jackson, what might hold him back from carving out an NBA role is his size and lack of a standout skill. As a two-way player, Jackson appeared in three games late last season for the Sixers. He’s also had brief NBA stints with the Celtics and Rockets.
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