NBA China Games | What They're Saying (Shenzhen)
Incredibly, the 76ers are already on the cusp of concluding their trip to China, which, start to finish, will have ended up spanning parts of eight days.
The journey has blazed by in an exciting blur, highlighted by opportunities for the team to continue bonding and preparing for the new season, and personal enrichment.
Ahead of Monday’s NBA China Games finale, which also marks the last outing of the club’s four-game pre-season slate, here’s a quick rundown of some of the stories that were making news Sunday afternoon, during a packed media session at the Shenzhen Universiade Sports Centre.
There is interest.
— Brian Seltzer (@brianseltzer) October 7, 2018
Among the loudest advocates for Landry Shamet in the Sixers’ war room the night of this year’s draft was Brett Brown.
So far this pre-season, due to injuries to veterans Wilson Chandler (left hamstring) and Jerryd Bayless (left knee), the head coach has gotten the chance to play the no. 26 pick more than anticipated.
According to Brown, Shamet has “exceeded expectations.”
“When we scouted him, when we drafted him, it was clear in our eyes that although he did play some one [point guard] at Wichita State, he was more than capable and comfortable off the ball. I saw him more in that spirit than anything.”
Mostly because of the depth the Sixers have among their primary ball handlers – Ben Simmons, Markelle Fultz, and T.J. McConnell.
Brown and the Sixers viewed Shamet simply as a “highly-skilled player,” not someone to be pigeon-holed into a specific position.
“His shot is excellent, and I think his defense is underrated.”
Shamet, who’s coming off a pre-season best 18-point showing Friday against the Dallas Mavericks, understands he’s got a long way to go. Still, he’s having fun, and appears to be thriving off an underdog attitude.
“I’ve always felt under the radar, that’s just me. In high school, college, even. I’ve always had that chip, I always will. I feel like I perform best that way.”
Whatever he’s been doing the past two weeks, it’s been working, and clearly leaving a positive impression.
“We are very happy with what we’ve seen from him to-date,” said Brown.
Embiid Eyes Room for Improvement
That the Sixers found themselves having to climb out of a 15-point hole in Friday’s eventual 120-114 win over the Dallas Mavericks was due in large part to uncharacteristic defense.
The Sixers spotted the Mavs 35 points in the period, on 50.0 percent shooting overall, and six 3-pointers.
From there, the club regrouped. Between quarters two and three, when many of the Sixers’ top rotation players were still being used, Dallas managed to convert only 38.1 percent of its attempts, while going 5-17 from the perimeter.
The Sixers also forced 11 turnovers during this stage of the contest, which Joel Embiid considered pivotal to his group’s third pre-season victory in as many tries.
“We had a bad start, but we picked it up in the second and third quarter, especially defensively,” Embiid said. “That’s what I care about the most, and we did a good job in those two periods.”
When the NBA decided two years ago to limit the length of the preseason, an understandable, domino effect was starters and primary reserves beginning to command the majority of the available playing time. Fewer games meant fewer opportunities for key players to get ready for the league’s 82-game grind.
On the eve of the Sixers’ final pre-season contest, Brett Brown was still working through how he wanted to sub things. He knows there have been a handful of guys who haven’t gotten a ton of in-game reps this fall.
“We talk lots with our coaching staff about it. We designed some of the practice to look at different things. [Monday] will be our final game before we go play the Boston Celtics, and so we have to give it deeper thought of what that means. I think when you ultimately see how I sub the team our last pre-season game, you’ll feel a decent snapshot into the rhythm of the routine we’re trying to identify and see if it will work.”