YearÂ 3 of the Philadelphia 76ers rebuilding officially kicks off later tonight as the team kicks off their Utah Summer League schedule versus the San Antonio Spurs, coached by Becky Hammon.
There’s been a lot of criticism regarding the way GM Sam Hinkie has torn the team down, in order to build it back up during his time at the helm. Â As a fan of the team, I support it 100%. Â I have no probably suffering through a few down seasons while the team assembles assets in an attempt to become a consistent contender. Â Personally, I couldn’t be more excited (minus a clean bill of health for injured big-man Joel Embiid) about this team’s direction.
So first let’s take a look at the team’s roster for the Utah Summer League.
C -Â Jahlil Okafor, C, Duke
PF – Furkan Aldemir, F-C, Galatasaray (Turkey)
SF -Â Jerami Grant, F, Syracuse
SG – Jordan McRae, G, 87ers
PG -Â T.J. McConnell, G, Arizona
Deonte Burton, G, Nevada
Corey Hawkins, G, UC Davis
Richaun Holmes, F, Bowling Green
Sam Thompson, F, Ohio State
J.P. Tokoto, G-F, North Carolina
Derrick Marks, G, Boise State
Chavaughn Lewis, G, Marist
Jordan Railey, C,Â Washington State
Thoughts -Â The big attraction here is obviously #3 overall pick Jahlil Okafor. Â With the uncertainties regarding the health of Joel Embiid, Okafor becomes the new (maybe temporary) cornerstone of the 76ers organization. Â This is a prospect who many considered to have the most advanced post game for a collegiate player since Tim Duncan came out of Wake Forest. Â While summer league tends to be a guard oriented league, Okafor should excel in this setting.
The starting line-up also includes second year playersÂ Furkan Aldemir and Jerami Grant. Â Aldemir came to the team in the middle of the season, following a contract dispute withÂ Galatasaray (Turkey). Â While he showed an excellent feel for and understanding of the game, Aldemir never quite seemed to mesh with his teammates and never really fit in with the team’s up-tempo offense. Â On the other hand, Grant proved to be a steal in the second round. Â The ultra-athletic 6-8 combo forward brought energy and excitement to a team desperately needing both. Â What he ultimately turns into at the NBA level is going to depend on how much work he’s willing to continue to do in order to improve his outside shot. Â But all the tools, including the work ethic, seem to be there for Grant to have a long NBA career.
Jordan McRae returns to the team after a season playing in Australia (and then in the D-League). Â A second round pick in 14′, McRae provides an innate scoring abilityÂ that was in short supply for the team last season. Â Simply put, he get’s buckets. Â Don’t be at all surprised to see McRae to among the summer league’s leading scorers.
Two 2015 second round picks are on the bench for the team, UNC swingman J.P. Tokoto and Bowling Green power forwardÂ Richaun Holmes. Â Tokoto is a highlight reel type athlete in the vein of former 76ers K.J. McDaniels, only minus McDaniels shot blocking and plus high level ball handling and passing skills. Â Holmes was a late riser before the draft. Â Everyone knew he was one of the better shot blockers in the country, but few outside of Bowling Green were aware of his developing outside game. Â Both players have a real chance for decent NBA careers, but don’t be surprised if Tokoto gets to Jordan McRae treatment this season.
Arizona’s T.J. McConnell is the type of point guard the team prefers for their summer league squads, he’s going to look to get his teammates involved first and not worry about getting shots of his own up. Â Essentially, he’s this year’s version of Aaron Craft. Â If the team carries a third point guard on the roster this season, it should come down to either McConnell or Pierre Jackson.
Chavaughn Lewis scored the ball well at Marist and filled up the stat sheet pretty well, but his shooting percentages are on the lower side. Â He’ll hope to be this year’s Jakarr Sampson.
The son of former seventy-sixers guard Hersey Hawkins, Corey Hawkins from UC-Davis is an interesting prospect. Â I’d like to see if he can hold his own at point guard, because if he can he suddenly becomes a threat to make the team. Â He shot 50.3 % from the field and a blistering 48.8 % from beyond the arc last season for the Aggies. Â He rebounds well for a smaller player (4.9), but 3.4 apg / 3.0 tpg ratio is troubling. Â Still, he can shoot the ball and shooters tend to find a place in the league.
Derrick Marks from Boise State is another undersized shooting guard who’s known for his 3pt shooting.
Deonte Burton is a PG who played last season for Ratiopharm Ulm in Germany. Â He struggled making the transition to the professional game. Â But he’s a top notch athlete in the backcourt.
Sam Thompson is an athletic small forward who was forced to play in the post for the Buckeyes last season. Â While he may be good for some highlight plays in summer league, I don’t see an NBA future.
Jordan Railey is a 7 footer who didn’t get much playtime for Washington State last season. Â He’s nothing more than a body here.