Washington Wizards

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.

More on the Sixers

Sixers will find plenty of challengers in attempt to take over Eastern Conference

Sixers will find plenty of challengers in attempt to take over Eastern Conference

“Run it back.”

After striking out on the big fish in free agency, the Sixers essentially appear to be going this route for next season.

They have reportedly agreed to a one-year deal to bring back JJ Redick and a trade for Denver Nuggets swingman Wilson Chandler to help offset the departures of bench standouts Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova. A little juggling to add a reserve center, and you will be looking at your 2018-19 Philadelphia 76ers (barring a blockbuster deal for Kawhi Leonard, in which case all bets are off).

And there’s no reason to believe that won’t be enough to take another leap next season. Think about it, from a personal standpoint the Sixers had Joel Embiid be named a starter in the All-Star Game and finish as the runner-up for Defensive Player of the Year. Despite all of the noise, Ben Simmons snagged Rookie of the Year in a landslide. Plus, the team had Robert Covington (first) and Embiid (second) each be named to All-NBA defensive teams.

All of those individual accolades helped propel the team to a 52-win campaign (24 more than the previous season), a playoff berth for the first time in six seasons and a first-round series victory.

With that level of production under their belt, there is no reason to believe the Sixers won’t continue climbing up the Eastern Conference ranks.

Just don’t think it will be easy.

Even with LeBron James’ exodus to the West, the Sixers’ path to the NBA Finals won’t all of the sudden become a cakewalk. Some other squads will have a say about that, starting at the top.

Toronto may have ditched its head coach, but the Raptors appear to be sticking with the core that won a franchise-record 59 games last season. That group beat the Sixers in three of the four regular-season meetings by an average of 18.3 points.

Of course, the Boston Celtics had the Sixers’ number all season long. Between the preseason, regular season and playoffs, the C’s won nine of the 11 matchups by an average of 9.2 points. Plus, you’ve likely heard they’ll be getting a couple All-Stars back in the lineup come next season in Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward.

Even the teams a step below have reason for hope. The Indiana Pacers have faith in their own young core led by Most Improved Player Victor Oladipo. The Milwaukee Bucks have one of the game’s best players in Giannis Antetokounmpo and boosted their bench by swiping Ilyasova from the Sixers and drafting Villanova standout Donte DiVincenzo. The Washington Wizards (John Wall, Bradley Beal) and Detroit Pistons (Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond) have prolific tandems that could cause trouble for anyone.

It’s all wide open in the East now that the King’s throne has shifted to Hollywood. And the Sixers have to feel as good as any team about being able to secure the crown, but it definitely won’t be an easy task.

More on the Sixers

Determining Sixers' 1st-round opponent is complicated

usat-wall-giannis-whiteside.jpg
USA Today

Determining Sixers' 1st-round opponent is complicated

The Sixers have had a playoff berth secured for a couple of weeks now, but their first-round opponent and seeding won't be determined until the final buzzer this evening.

There are still scenarios in which the Sixers can face one of four teams in the first round: the Indiana Pacers, the Washington Wizards, the Miami Heat or the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Sixers can still finish in either the third or fourth seed in the East with Cleveland taking the other spot. The Wizards, Heat and Bucks are all jockeying for the six, seven or eight seeds.

A Sixers win over the Bucks tonight locks the Sixers in at the 3 seed meaning they'd avoid the formidable Pacers in the first round.

It can get rather complicated when attempting to put into prose with all of the different scenarios, but this handy chart breaks it down rather clearly: