Sixers fall to Spurs in Utah Summer League opener

Most Sixers fans only turned on the TV Monday night to watch Jahlil Okafor play his first game as a member of the team. They were likely not disappointed.

Okafor put up 20 points, nine rebounds and two blocks on the night, but it still wasn’t enough to take down the Spurs in Salt Lake City. He had a bit of a rough start, going 3/11 in the first half, but he bounced back with a 7/11 second half and proved that he’s already the best player on their Summer League roster. Still, he believes there was still a lot of room for improvement.

It may sound like he was being a bit harsh, but that’s the kind of attitude you love to see. Offensively, he showed that he already has a variety of moves, both in the post and outside the paint. He needs to tweak his post up game, as he often missed his turnaround shots in the paint, but that will come with practice. For his first game as a Sixer, I can honestly say he exceeded my expectations.

Jordan McRae also impressed, totaling 15 points and five rebounds. He also had three of the team’s four 3-pointers. However, he had six fouls and five turnovers, so he had far from a perfect night. His three-point shooting was obviously better than the 1/14 that the rest of the team combined for, which is obviously a nice takeaway considering how bad they are at shooting from deep.

T.J. McConnell also had a strong outing, filling up the stat sheet with six points, seven rebounds, four assists and two steals. He really should’ve had even more assists, but his targets often missed the basket despite his great passing. He seemed like one of the few guys that actually has a shot to make the team. He seems to hustle harder than anyone out there, and hustle guys are what this team needs. Not a bunch of standing around, especially on defense.

Jerami Grant had an underwhelming night, scoring 13 points, but on 4/13 shooting and 5/10 from the free throw line. He isn’t going to be expected to start come the regular season and therefore won’t have to take on such a large offensive role, but his shot is clearly something he needs to continue to work on.

I really don’t think Furkan Aldemir should make the team. He did bring down 11 rebounds, but he didn’t score a single point and really has no skills beyond rebounding and setting picks. If they can’t find a different player who, in addition to that, also possesses at least some scrap of offensive talent, then they’re in trouble. His skills aren’t really enough to warrant keeping a roster spot for, even with a team as poor as the Sixers.

J.P. Tokoto and Richaun Holmes, both of whom were second round picks this year, had okay outings. Holmes looked like the better of the two, showing ability both offensively and defensively. The highlight of his night was when he had a nice chase-down block on the backboard. Like McConnell, he seems to show a lot of hustle. He should be able to make the team as a bench player.

At the end of the day though, 34 percent shooting and 15 turnovers is just too poor of a team performance combined with 19 percent shooting from 3 and 52 percent shooting from the line. Basically, the Sixers were in regular season form with their poor shooting.

Summer League is not about wins and losses though. Just from one game, there are many positive takeaways from their new guys, and I’m excited to see who can continue that momentum in tomorrow’s game.


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