NBA Summer League basketball is about player development and improvement. For the Sixers, that development will be a bigger takeaway than their 3-2 record.
The team should be impressed by their players, in particular Tyrese Maxey, Paul Reed, Isaiah Joe, Jaden Springer, and Filip Petrušev, who each took advantage.
“It was my first taste of NBA basketball,” Springer, the Sixers’ first-round pick, said, “so really adjusting to the speed of the game and learning the pace, that’s the biggest thing for me.”
“Everybody’s out there trying to prove their self and get their buckets,” Reed said. “Staying composed, keep playing hard, and finding different ways to get my buckets; that was my biggest takeaway.”
Here are two more takeaways from the Sixers’ trip to Las Vegas.
Maxey, Joe and Springer on the ball
The Sixers went 2-0 with Tyrese Maxey. He was one of those too good for summer league second-year players that get sent to Las Vegas. He was there for development, but ended up torching opponents. Maxey left Vegas because of a pre-approved appointment at his youth camp, but he likely wasn’t set to play much longer. Teams often sit their stars as summer league winds down, and he averaged 26 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 4.5 assists.
When Maxey left, a bigger role was expected for Springer. While he was listed as a guy who could play both guard spots, he stood off the ball more than expected. Springer was the fourth ball handler behind Maxey, Joe, and Frank Mason III.
With no Maxey or Joe on hand, Springer got to show more of his on-ball offensive repertoire in the final game. He finished with a team-high 21 points on 8-for-14 shooting in a 103-98 win over the Utah Jazz.
“One adjustment we made is we put him in a high set where you hand it off to him in high pick and roll,” said assistant coach Brian Adams, who is coaching the summer league team. “That’s one of [Doc Rivers’] specials, and we added that for Jaden.”
Springer was credited for being a solid defensive player. He showed that in the five games, including Tuesday when he had two steals and was a team-high plus-14 in 27 minutes.
“Defensively, he’s at a high NBA level already,” Adams said.
It was clear that a point of emphasis for Joe was displaying his ability as a secondary playmaker. Take a quick look around the league and you’ll notice that most elite teams have multiple guards who can create opportunities for teammates. If Joe, who missed Tuesday’s game after suffering a sprained MCL on Sunday, can consistently become that player, he’ll give himself a good chance to get minutes next season.
The best example was his 21 points, five rebounds and four assists against the Hawks on Aug. 12.
Reed working on position versatility
Paul Reed has the look of a typical big man in the NBA, the versatile, energizer type of player who can provide a spark on a dull day.
Reed played power forward most of his time in Vegas, but he played some small-ball five in the final two games. The Sixers shouldn’t need him in that role much, but it could be a nice wrinkle to roll out during spurts of an 82-game season. For his part, Reed is putting in the work and preparing himself physically to play either frontcourt spot.
“I’ve been doing a lot of working out,” Reed said. “A lot of push-ups, a lot of burpees.”
Petrušev surprised by showing flashes on defense while most thought of him as an offensive prospect. Since he’s a draft-and-stash prospect, he’ll head back overseas to grow on both ends.
The Sixers’ bench left a lot to be desired at times last season behind an offense that had the No. 1 net rating in the NBA with Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Danny Green, Tobias Harris, and Joel Embiid. Some encouraging in-house options emerged this summer, but now they’ll have to continue it.