Two games into play at the Orlando Pro Summer League, the young Sixers have a 2-0 record, and have been somewhat impressive, if not intriguing. Winning both games by a combined 25 points, including a 15 point win over the Eastern Conference Champ Celtics entry, may have people feeling good moving forward. But remember- this is just a summer league- a place for first, second and third year guys to show their teams what they have, and allow for many others to show that they belong on an NBA roster, as well. Let’s face it- a July win against the Celts, minus Garnett, or Pierce, or Rondo isn’t exactly putting the league on notice.
That doesn’t mean that Sixers fans shouldn’t take anything out of this. What we can expect to see in Orlando is basically the beginning of a process, which hopefully, translates to wins, which leads to the playoffs.
This summer starts with two guys: Jrue Holiday, and Evan Turner. The goal is for these two to develop chemistry, and learn to work and feed off of each others skills and energy. Through two games, both have shown to be very versatile, and the Sixers belief in Holiday as their PG of the present and future is seeming more solid the more we see him in action. He’s played very well, and showed the ability to put points up, as well, with 23 against NJ.
Turner can play three positions (SG, SF, PG), and can play all three well. He’s handled the ball in both games, and has been effective. He makes very good decisions with the ball, gets to the bucket with ease, and his passing skills are better than I had expected. I was also impressed with him defensively. Thus far, he’s been letting the game come to him, and has shown a poise and maturity that you don’t often see in rookies. The knock on him is consistency with his jumper, which I expect he’ll be working on now, and in camp. But if there’s one thing I’d like to see before the Sixers close shop in Orlando, it’s Turner taking over a game. As much as I like the maturity and poise, just once I’d like to see him say “this is mine, and I’m taking it!“, and, as a #2 pick, it’s almost expected that he have that kind of impact and ability.
Marreese Speights is, hopefully, here to work on his defense and rebounding. Offensively, in terms of scoring the ball, I don’t think there’s an issue. However, passing out of the post and making better decisions are where he can use help. In this offense, under Doug Collins, he’s going to have to learn that defense and rebounding will translate into points. In the half court offense, fighting for position underneath and utilizing his strength will lead to good things for him. It’s a matter of getting his head into it, and just doing it. Many say that he was the biggest victim of Eddie Jordan’s coaching. Now, it’s up to Doug Collins to reverse the ill effects.
We all know Jodie Meeks can score, as he did so often at the University of Kentucky. But, can he play defense? Can he shoot consistently? Acquired around the trade deadline, we didn’t see enough of him to know where he may fit. Through two Summer League games, he’s scored 36 pts. The question is if he’ll show enough here, and in camp, to supplant guys like Jason Kapono, Willie Green, or Louis Williams? Williams, I expect, will be highly counted upon, but has much to improve upon, as well. Training camp may tell alot about where Williams fits with this team, as he’s one player that skipped college that shouldn’t have.
The rest of the Sixers summer roster are auditioning for invitations to training camps, either with Philadelphia, or elsewhere, as is the case with many players on each teams rosters.
While it’s only the first week of July, the Sixers new young core is giving fans something to look forward to; a reason for optimism.
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