Summer League Observations: Sixers drop Game 1 against Grizzlies

The Sixers had a competitive Summer League opener against the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday night, ultimately losing 103-99 in their opener at Utah.

Here is what I saw.

Good

• After a game, I am ready to place Paul Reed under the supervision of “Too Good For Summer League”. Frankly, I kind of assumed that for the opener in Utah because Reed has always dominated the lower levels of competition and looked at home in an NBA playoff run last season. But you need to back up your assumptions with evidence, and Reed offered plenty of that in the Grizzlies’ game on Tuesday.

Starting next to Charles Bassey, Reed didn’t seem at all affected by who was on the floor next to him. If you can count on Reed for anything, it’s activity, and he slid all over the place against Memphis, rushing through the gaps for offensive rebounds, layups and hustle plays that have helped the Sixers stay within easy reach of a hot-shooting Memphis. When his touch evaporated, Reed made up for it by continuing to squeak on the glass for a second, or even a third opportunity.

The surprise, at least based on aesthetics, was that Reed canned a three at the start of the extended free throw line. This is the setting where Reed should be encouraged to take confidence threes if they come his way, and if he can do them with any semblance of consistency, it opens up unique lineups for Philly that will be a drudgery for opponents to try to score against.

(I don’t have much confidence in Reed to make threes, but hey, it’s Summer League, dare to dream a little.)

Perhaps the best part of Reed’s performance was his ability to play good defense without getting sucked into silly fouls. Supporting a team full of perimeter players who struggled to keep guys in front of them, Reed was constantly put in assist situations where he showed the value of his length and athleticism.

If the Sixers are interested in knowing what everyone has on that Summer League roster, they’d probably be better served just sitting Reed down and letting everyone have a try. I certainly don’t think it’s a bad thing for Reed to get minutes in competitive basketball games this offseason, but I don’t think he has anything to prove against guys who fight. mainly to show that they belong in the league. His real tests will come later this year, when he may get the chance to play some real minutes upfront.

• Even though Isaiah Joe has the Summer League campaign to end all Summer League campaigns, I’m skeptical he’ll find a way to break the rotation this year. But you have to start somewhere, and Joe went through a rough start to at least leave his mark on this one.

The outside touch is still not there for Joe, who bombed away from the jump and never let go, but I think the diversity of looks is important to consider. Philadelphia had him take three pull-ups, catch-and-shoot looks, three off-the-move, running him across the floor in different spots depending on the lineup they had and the play they decided on for a given possession .

As the game progressed, Joe had more opportunities to handle the ball and create an offense, and that’s when he managed to have some good times as the Sixers were working to fight off a three-point barrage from the Grizzlies. Joe had a few assists as the primary ball handler and probably could have added more with better shooting/decision making from his teammates.

• Grant Riller’s opportunity to impact the Sixers has probably passed – their need for small ballhandlers doesn’t really exist anymore – which is a shame as there’s likely an NBA-level skill set in there. Injuries have been one of his big issues over the years, and he looks very good physically right now, as long as this current run lasts.

With his legs under him, Riller’s ball-handling ability and shake stand out in an environment where a lot of guys just hope to become proficient ball handlers. Compared to the guys around him, there was an obvious difference between Riller handling the ball and basically everyone else, which is both a compliment to his game and an accusation from the rest of the group.

The bad

• Jaden Springer not being a finished product at 19 is not something to yell at. But even if he didn’t fight an uphill battle for a few minutes this year, I would be pessimistic about his chances of playing this season. The game is still moving a little too fast for him, and that’s not what you wanted to see after a year of working and developing with the G-League team.

The real bummer is that he’s behind defensively, where he’s supposed to have a high floor to back his case while you wait for everything else to catch up. There have certainly been times when his athleticism has shone, and on the ball he can still be a pain to deal with, but he had far too many mental errors against Memphis. It wasn’t always his guy who got an open three because he hesitated or misinterpreted a play, but Springer was often the guy who set off a negative chain reaction, leading to too many possessions that ended in Grizzlies pullovers. undisputed.

That kind of thing can’t happen for him, or any young man potentially hoping to carve out a role (even a one-time role) for the Sixers this year. They’ve gone deeper already this offseason, and that puts extra pressure on the young players to be error-free on both sides. Springer fell well short of that in the summer opener.

It was also a bad shooting night for Springer, but what worries me most is that he falls into a category that too many Sixers have been in: reluctant shooter. Let it fly, young man. No consequence for the three missed in the Summer League.

On the plus side for Jaden Springer, you can definitely see the athleticism and strength shine through when he’s just playing out there instead of thinking. Much like last year, his second half was a bit better than his first half, and he arguably invented late game play, snatching the ball from a rolling Xavier Tillman to give the Sixers a chance to tie or win the match.

I’m struggling to find a way to describe Springer’s ball handling ability. I certainly don’t think he has a good grip, as you rarely see him creating separation with a defender, which you saw when he got stripped in the tiebreak of the match. On the other hand, he (often) does a good job of keeping the ball on him while navigating traffic, which is an important skill for a guy who will likely have to compensate for shooting limitations with free throw generation. . His best moments on Tuesday pretty much all came when Springer was heading for the basket, his ability to absorb contact impressive despite his weak shooting efforts from the field.

Finding the right rhythm is going to be key for him. The gears still move terribly slowly, but he has talent.

• Charles Bassey was a guy a lot of people (myself included) wanted to see get burned towards the end of last year, especially as Doc Rivers kept putting DeAndre Jordan down over and over again. There were some decent moments for him on Tuesday, games where the athleticism erupted and Bassey’s raw talent was clear, but he was rarely able to turn those moments into results. It was a lot of theft with no end product in sight.

You could say it doesn’t matter much because of what he’d be asked to do if he was playing for the big club, which is just rim running and throwing dunks after setting screens for James Harden and/or Tyrese Maxey. There won’t be a ton of post-ups designed for Bassey in the NBA. But there were issues beyond a lack of field goal finishing, with the Grizzlies managing to hammer through the offensive glass with Bassey on the ground despite playing much of his minutes with Reed at his side.

I think Bassey is a guy whose night-to-night performance will be heavily tied to the guard game, and the guard game wasn’t too special in this one.

The ugly one

• It’s the Summer League, man. Most of the game is ugly.


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