The Sixers concluded their plan in Las Vegas summer league following an opening stint in Utah competition. After two weeks of games, practices and shootarounds, the Sixers' future is taking shape. Check out 10 observations from the Samsung NBA Summer League.
1. Simmons will make an impact next season
It took only a few possessions to realize the versatility of Ben Simmons’ game.
At 6-foot-10, he runs the floor with the ease and savvy court vision of a point guard, yet attacks the rim for rebounds like a forward. Simmons will have to develop his offensive game, as he showed hesitancy with his shot. Even though he is not a prolific scorer, Simmons already has shown how he can be a centerpiece of the Sixers' team.
2. Saric is (finally) here
The two-year wait has come to an end. Dario Saric left Anadolu Efes in Istanbul to play for the Sixers next season. He signed his contract last Friday. Saric had reiterated his intentions of playing in Philadelphia to Brett Brown since being acquired on draft night.
"One of the biggest reasons because I promised when we had a meeting after a draft that I'd come after two years," Saric said at his press conference. "Another reason, I wanted to play against the best players in the best league in the world to show what I can do. And the third because I think I'm mentally ready, I think I've improved my game enough to come here and play the best players in the world."
3. Lots of work to be done
The Sixers have talent.
Now they have to figure how to piece it all together. Brett Brown is faced with what he describes as a “good challenge” of figuring out where to utilize Saric in their system. Saric played power forward in Europe, but the Sixers are logjammed at that position. He could slide to the three, as Brown would like to play him and Simmons together.
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Then there is the issue of too many bigs.
Keep an eye out for trade buzz and possible movement before the season starts. The Sixers already were logjammed last season with Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel. Throw Joel Embiid, Saric and Simmons into the mix, and they have to balance the roster.
4. 1 vs. 2
Leading up to the draft, there was a debate as to who should be the No. 1 pick: Simmons or Brandon Ingram. The two faced off in the Sixers’ opening game against the Lakers, in which the Sixers lost on a buzzer-beater at the hands of D’Angelo Russell. Ingram averaged 12.2 points (41.2 percent from the floor, 25.0 percent from three) in Vegas. He has the potential to develop into a dangerous scorer, but Simmons is the more immediate contributor.
5. Sixers need shooters to finish
Simmons is looking to dish, and the Sixers will have to surround him with those who can score. They have offensive power in the frontcourt with an overabundance of bigs. Simmons routinely found Richaun Holmes at the basket, now imagine him doing that with, say, Noel or Okafor next season.
When it comes to the backcourt, though, the Sixers didn’t have knock-down shooters last season. They have added Jerryd Bayless, Gerald Henderson and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, who can hit shots. Nik Stauskas will have to become more consistent offensively to earn his minutes.
6. Embiid part of the squad
Embiid joined the team in Las Vegas for summer league upon their arrival from Utah. He arrived early ahead of games with the team, and occasionally stayed after to catch other matchups. At shootarounds and practices, Embiid worked on his own training and participated in shooting drills.
“His progression is very separate from the rest of the team,” Las Vegas summer league head coach Lloyd Pierce said. "This allows him to still be around the coaches and players on and off the court.”
7. Veterans are eager to lead
Both Bayless and Henderson traveled to Las Vegas to sign their contracts. The pair of veteran guards spoke of their NBA experience and how they are ready to share it with their younger teammates.
“I’ve always felt like on all levels I’ve been a leader, so that won’t be difficult for me,” Henderson said.
Bayless shared the same sentiment, saying, “Having a guy who's been around the league, who's been there, that can help them grow a little bit faster is something I want to do, and I'm looking forward to that."
8. The team bonded
The Sixers spent time away from the court in Las Vegas. Last week, Simmons, Okafor, Embiid, Jerami Grant, Robert Covington and others went to Topgolf on the team’s off day. Several players took to social media for team photos, too.
9. Simmons ready to play with old friends
Brown isn’t the only person Simmons already knew when he was drafted by the Sixers. He has been friends with Okafor and Embiid since he was in the tenth grade. Both bigs were at summer league watching the games, and Simmons said he hopes their chemistry carries over onto the floor next season.
10. Opportunities for contracts
Summer league is a chance for players to get looks from the team they are playing for and others that are watching.
Christian Wood inked a deal with the Hornets midway through the competition after a strong showing for the Sixers.
Brandon Paul, whose playing time increased as the games went on, reportedly agreed to a partially guaranteed deal with the Sixers Monday.