Summer League: Wrapping Things Up
LAS VEGAS –– It’s been a whirlwind two weeks for the Philadelphia 76ers – 11 games in just 14 days between summer leagues in both Orlando and Las Vegas.
The Sixers finished with a 6-5 overall record (4-1 in Orlando, 2-4 in Las Vegas) and were winners of the championship game in the Orlando Pro Summer League. Twenty-three players suited up for Philadelphia over the last two weeks, but none received more attention than center Nerlens Noel.
Noel, the sixth-overall pick in 2013, missed all of last season while recovering from left knee surgery. He made his professional debut in Orlando on July 5 and scored a game-high 19 points to go along with three assists, a pair of rebounds, four steals, and a block.
Through five Summer League appearances (three in Orlando and two in Las Vegas), Noel averaged 13.4 points (50.0 FG%, 65.5 FT%), 5.6 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 2.6 blocks, and 1.8 steals in 25.6 minutes per game.
“I thought I played well,” Noel told Sixers.com. “I have to continue to keep working on the things that I have to and keep building up my body to get ready for the regular season.”
Joining the 6’11” center in Orlando and Las Vegas were point guard Casper Ware and rookie draftees K.J. McDaniels and Jerami Grant. Ware, who was originally signed to a 10-day contract by the Sixers in March, impressed the team’s coaching staff with his confidence and leadership on the court.
“It’s confidence,” assistant coach Lloyd Pierce said of impetus for the 5’10” point guard’s development since season’s end. “He’s our leader [at Summer League], he’s running the show, his confidence is coming out, he’s comfortable, and I think the further along he goes as a point guard, guys will rely on him, and he accepts the challenge.”
K.J. McDaniels displayed the defensive tenacity that made him the ACC Defensive Player of the Year last season at Clemson, often guarding the opponent’s most talented perimeter player. In the Sixers’ meeting with the Cavaliers on Day Four of the Samsung NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, the 6’6” swingman drew the assignment of guarding Andrew Wiggins. He held the 2014 first-overall pick to four points on three shot attempts in the roughly 20 minutes that the two were matched up against one another. During Summer League play, he averaged 9.7 points (43.9 FG%), 2.3 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks in 18.8 minutes per game.
Jerami Grant was the only Sixer to appear in all 11 of the team’s Summer League games, averaging 6.3 points and 4.1 rebounds in 17.5 minutes per game (13.0 points and 8.4 rebounds per 36 minutes). Fellow second-round pick Jordan McRae joined the team in Las Vegas and was able to make an immediate impact on the offensive end of the floor. He topped 20 points in three of the four games in which he played, averaging 21.0 points (50.0 FG%) and getting to the free-throw line 9.3 times per contest.
Second-year swingman Hollis Thompson put on nine pounds of muscle earlier this summer and it showed at Summer League. In four appearances in Orlando, he averaged 13.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 3.3 assists in 28.0 minutes per game. His 8.0 rebounds per game were good for fourth-best in Orlando and led all perimeter players.
Summer League offered fans a taste of what’s to come, but now begins the longest two months of the year, the period between summer league and the start of training camp. Luckily for Sixers fans, there will be an added bit of intrigue during the traditionally down months.
A pair of international players whose rights are owned by Philadelphia will compete at the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain – Dario Saric for Croatia (#12 overall in 2014) and Vasilije Micić for Serbia (#52 overall in 2014). FIBA play begins on August 30 and runs through September 14, and Sixers.com will have coverage of all games played by the two players throughout the World Cup.