Summer Sixers Recap: Philadelphia finishes 1-2 in Utah

It may be the middle of the summer, but #SummerSixers were in full force this past week or so, finishing up their three-game stretch in the Utah Summer League. After falling to the host Jazz team last night, 84-78 in overtime, they will now look to focus on the most important part of summer league: Las Vegas.

But, before they move into that, let’s recap a bit and give an overview and analysis of how they did in the Utah league. Here are five things I learned from their three games in Salt Lake City:

1. Jahlil Okafor is the real deal

He’s barely a week into his time with the Sixers and he’s already dropping quotes like that. I think Brett Brown and Sam Hinkie have found their guy. Okafor has already shown his supreme offensive ability, averaging 14.0 PPG and 8.3 RPG in the three games. He was the clear go-to guy on offense and already has a variety of post moves. He still has a long way to go, especially with holding onto the ball (he averaged 4.7 turnovers per game), but he already looks better than Nerlens Noel did last year in the summer. Is it wrong to already call him the best player on the team? Probably a little early for that, but I could see that coming true by the end of his rookie year.

2. Jordan McRae is a good scorer

This was kind of expected, but getting to finally see McRae take some shots and get some buckets was nice. He wasn’t the most efficient scorer, shooting just 31 percent from the field and 25 percent from 3, but he got it done. If there’s anyone who should be taking a lot of shots, it’s McRae. Summer league is the perfect time to figure out your offensive game without having to worry about shooting at a high percentage. I would be shocked if McRae wasn’t on the team’s final roster. His bench scoring could become very valuable, and he’s good enough to start once in a while. I’m excited to see more of him.

3. Where the heck did Furkan Aldemir come from?

Yes, of course he was on the roster last year as the awkward Turkish guy who couldn’t do anything but rebound, and he appeared to be the same player in their first summer league game. Then, in the final two games, he blossomed into a completely different player. Here are a couple vines from Liberty Ballers writer Shamus Clancy from last night:

All of a sudden is not just leading the team in rebounds (13.3 per game), but he’s taking (and making) 3-pointers, he’s throwing no-look passes, and he’s killing people. Well, not literally, but his famous pick certainly threw that Jazz player all over the place. After the first game, I was already writing him off as a legitimate player, but he seems to have acquired new skills overnight. I’m not asking any questions. Just keep doing you, Furkan.

4. T.J. McConnell is a great passer

I really liked the way McConnell looked in this trio of games. He’s a clear pass-first point guard, and is sometimes a little bit too unselfish with his play, but there’s no doubt that he hustles 100 percent on every single play, no matter what the situation is. Sometimes he gets a little predictable on his drives because he seems to want to pass every single time, but he flies into the lane faster than most guys the Sixers have had recently. I’d like to see him get a chance on the roster, even as a third-string point guard. He’s the type of player the Sixers like.

5. Jerami Grant still can’t shoot 3’s, but boy he can DUNK

Grant was just 2/10 on threes in this portion of summer league, and it really seems like he’s going to have to keep working on that shot. But he was a solid 8/15 on two-point shots, so there definitely is development in his offensive game. He probably had the most NBA experience out of any guy on the Sixers’ team this past week. But even if he can’t hit threes yet, he certainly can throw down:

Overall, the Sixers certainly showed that they have some solid young talent. The games weren’t always pretty (actually, most times summer league basketball is pretty bad), but it was nice to see some fresh faces in there making an impact. Despite his struggles in the third game, I have to give Okafor the MVP so far. He already looks solid on offense and contributed on the glass. I’m looking forward to seeing him continue to play this summer.

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