Since there’s quite a bit of down time before training camp officially begins, let’s squeeze in some Sixers chat.
While most of the city is focused on Chip Kelly, Sam Bradford, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Aaron Nola, basketball-starved fans haven’t had much to talk about.
Joel Embiid is out for a second straight season. That’s the bad news.
But the summer has provided the Sixers with some positives. Here are three things the Sixers’ fan base can look forward to in 2015-16 based on results from the summer:
1. Jahlil Okafor
When D’Angelo Russell was plucked by the Los Angeles Lakers with the No. 2 overall pick in the NBA Draft, it allowed Okafor to slip to the Sixers. What a blessing. Especially with Embiid’s injury situation. The 6-foot-11 big man won a national championship as a freshman at Duke and carried that momentum into the Summer League with the Sixers. While Okafor was far from perfect, he showed incredible poise and footwork in the low post. Free throw shooting is still an issue, but that can be improved. The same goes for conditioning. This much was obvious: Okafor is ready for the NBA and he’ll help the Sixers immediately. Once the Sixers begin to put more quality players around Okafor, the better he’ll become in the long run. It was the right pick for this team and judging from a small sample in the Summer Legaue, Okafor has all the skills to be ultra-successful.
2. Jerami Grant
The young forward from Syracuse continued to prove his mettle with a solid showing in Salt Lake City. He attacked the basket offensively, rebounded well, played strong defense and did a great job of running the court. Grant knocked down only 2-of-10 shots from 3-point territory, but his offensive game flourished from inside the arc. Grant looked like such an improved player in virtually every aspect. He’ll have plenty of chances to take another step forward for the Sixers this season.
3. Scottie Wilbekin
The former University of Florida guard played extremely well for the Sixers in Las Vegas and was reportedly rewarded with a four-year deal and two years partially guaranteed. Wilbekin scored 26 points in one game and consistently scored from long distance. He was the Defensive Player of the Year and Most Valuable Player for Cairns Taipans of Australia's National Basketball League last year. Don’t confuse Wilbekin with the likes of Chris Paul or Stephen Curry. But Wilbekin could turn out to be a nice role player for the Sixers.