With the 76ers’ training camp over and the squad officially arriving in Europe for two preseason games, it’s time for the public to get a look at what this young roster can actually do on a basketball court.
And, as Brett Brown has repeatedly stressed to the media, this season will be more about the team’s young players’ developments rather than wins and losses.
For basketball nerds like me, that’s an extremely entertaining concept. I mean, wouldn’t you rather experience Jake Pavorsky develop into a Philadelphia media tycoon, than read a mediocre 41-year-old blogger game in and game out?
Sam Hinkie clearly prefers this route as well. Of the 20 players on the Sixers’ training camp roster, 14 have two or less years of experience in the NBA. With that in mind, it will be important for the fans that are
stupid dedicated enough to follow this entire preseason to know what exactly to look for in terms of these young players’ respective progressions.
In order to do so, the below is a scouting report on each of those 14 players. Each individual report is comprised of what that player already brings to the Sixers and what developmental "swing skill" (h/t Rich Hofmann) you should watch for that could ultimately grant that player a roster spot.
In alphabetical order:
Solomon Alabi, 7-1, Center, Florida State, 2 Years
What He Is: Defender, Shot-blocker Swing Skill: Scoring
Alabi played two seasons with the Toronto Raptors from 2010 to 2012, appearing in just 26 contests. In his final campaign with Toronto, Alabi swatted 2.7 blocks per 36 minutes. He also was a two-time ACC Defensive Player of the Year at Florida State. Essentially, Alabi knows how to defend the basket, a much-needed skill on this depleted Sixers roster, but what will solidify his a spot on this team will be if can show the ability to contribute on the offensive end against NBA talent. He will likely be most effective offensively off of a pick and roll. [ed. note: the venerable Jordan Sams was a fan circa 2010]
Lavoy Allen, 6-9, Center, Temple, 2 Years
What He Is: Pick-and-Pop Jump Shooter Swing Skill: Defense
When you first hear Lavoy’s name, you either think of when he did a very decent job guarding Kevin Garnett in the 2012 Semifinals (contrary to popular belief he didn’t ‘SHUT KG DOWN!’) or envision him getting dunked on in the paint, with no in between. Allen has proven to be a decent shooter from 10-23 feet, but he frequently lacks the foot speed to keep up with quicker bigs on defense and is often overpowered by bigger ones. Both of those weaknesses can be corrected if he focuses on defensive positioning.
Vander Blue, 6-4, Guard, Marquette, Rookie
What He Is: Scorer Swing Skill: Shooting, Distributing
Many were surprised Blue decided to forgo his senior season and enter his name in the NBA Draft. To non stat-heads, the reason he declared pro was obvious: this. To his credit, Blue, a dynamic scorer in the Big East, was able to build off his NCAA Tournament momentum and receive an invite to the Draft Combine, but he went undrafted. That’s likely because he still needs to prove he can shoot the ball at consistent rate and get his teammates involved. Blue, who played a lot of minutes at point guard under Buzz Williams, only averaged 1.8 assists per game, while dropping 14.8 points and getting to the rim at will.
Michael Carter-Williams, 6-6, Guard, Syracuse, Rookie
What He Is: Drive-and-Dish PG Swing Skill: Shooting
MCW thrived in a Syracuse offense that was predicated on him getting to the basket and creating for his teammates. But in the process, Carter-Williams shot just 39.3 percent from the field. Those who watched Summer League will cry that his turnovers are his biggest problem area, but turnovers are something to be expected with an inexperienced guard who’s depended on to create scoring opportunities for almost everyone else on the roster. It will be more important to keep tabs on whether MCW can continue to get to the rim, his true-shooting percentage and his free throw rate. Turnovers aren't a big deal at this point.
Mac Koshwal, 6-10, Forward-Center, DePaul, Rookie
What He Is: Rebounder Swing Skill: Defense
Koshwal was a very effective rebounder in the Big East when the conference was at its height in 2008, averaging 10.1 per game in his junior season. But he appears on YouTube most because of this play. Koshwal, who spent ’12-13 with the Rochester Razor Sharks of the PBL, averaged 4.3 points and 5.3 rebounds last season. Does he have the capability of defending the basket amongst the world’s best? Probably not.
Darius Morris, 6-4, Guard, Michigan, 2 Years
What He Is: Back-up PG Swing Skill: Shooting
Morris came to Philly because he saw an opportunity for more minutes here than in LA. The former Michigan Wolverine has the basketball IQ to be a solid back-up point guard. If he can continue to shoot over 36 percent from three-point land while shooting them plenty, he’ll add more value to his stock as an NBA player. The job backing up MCW seems to be his, though who's to say he won't start at the 2? Chaos.
Arnett Moultrie, 6-10, Forward, Mississippi State, 1 Year
What He Is: A reminder of Doug Collins Swing Skill:
Going to Europe Defense
I was really looking forward to seeing Moultrie have a chance to develop in 20 minutes per game this season, but he’s proven he can’t stay in shape or take care of his body to be able to get on the court and produce. If Hinkie picks up Moultrie’s ’14-15 team option, I’ll be shocked.
Nerlens Noel, 6-11, Center, Kentucky, Rookie
What He Is: Shot-blocker Swing Skill: Scoring
Noel obviously won’t be seeing game action during the preseason, but keep on the lookout for quotes and news about the No. 6 overall pick’s progress over the coming weeks.
Tim Ohlbrecht, 6-11, Forward-Center, Germany, 1 Year
What He Is: Homeless man’s Dirk Nowitzki Swing Skill: Defense
Ohlbrecht played in a whopping 3 games last season for the Rockets, so there’s no substantial NBA evidence on what he’s capable of on the hardwood. But he did average 13.4 points (on 61% from the field), 7.4 rebounds, 1.6 blocks, and 1.1 steals through 32 D-League contests last season. Here's some online tape from playing in Europe, where he shows he can shoot the ball a bit and has a solid understanding of offensive basketball. He will be of value to the Sixers if he can contribute on defense.
Hollis Thompson, 6-8, Guard-Forward, Georgetown, Rookie
What He Is: Shooter Swing Skill: Defense
Thompson could be the best shooter on this team, even better than Spencer Hawes! At Georgetown, the swingman shot 44.0 percent from deep but he only made 28.8 percent of his three point attempts in the D-League last season. It’s very unrealistic he lost his stroke, and that will be evident during the preseason, but he will need to use his length and athleticism to make an impact on defense to ultimately make this team.
Royce White, 6-8, Forward, Iowa State, 1 Year
What He Is: Rebounder Swing Skill: Conditioning/Playing in a game
White was a game-changing rebounder at Iowa State, but obviously never saw the floor with Houston last season. All signs point to White being able to work with Hinkie to at least suit up for the Sixers this season, but he needs to be in shape in order to see the floor. White looked good on Media Day, but he reportedly ballooned to over 300 pounds before he reported to his D-League assignment last season. Can he keep the weight off? Can we get a Delmon Young weight clause in here?
Rodney Williams, 6-7, Guard-Forward, Minnesota, Rookie
What He Is: Freak Athlete Swing Skill: Shooting
Williams is a ridiculous athlete who has the foundation to be a great defensive asset for an NBA team. I compared him to Rodney Carney during Summer League, but people killed me because Williams only shot 25.4 percent from the outside during his college career. Be on the lookout for any glimpse of improvement in his shooting.
Tony Wroten, 6-6, Guard, Washington, 1 Year
What He Is: Scorer Swing Skill: Shooting, Ball Control
For Wroten, turnovers are something to keep in mind. MCW will likely turn the ball over mostly trying to dish to his teammates. Wroten has frequently turned the ball over in his career by forcing ill-advised shots. He clearly knows how to get buckets and he has a guarantee spot on this team. What will allow him to challenge MCW for minutes will be whether he can improve his jumper as well, but more so his ability take care of the ball.
Khalif Wyatt, 6-4, Guard, Temple, Rookie
What He Is: Unathletic crafty scorer Swing Skill: Defense
Wyatt has been scoring the ball all of his life and he continued to do so as he led the Sixers’ Summer League squad in scoring in Orlando. But, even when Wyatt was dropping points left and right, then-coach Michael Curry (*Pour one out for Michael Curry*) always talked about Wyatt’s need to pay attention to detail on defense. It will be interesting to see how he performs in a professional defensive scheme, especially when it comes to weak-side rotations.