This past Saturday, the Delaware 87ers held an open practice at the Stanton Gymnasium on the campus of Delaware Technical University. It was the first time that the general public could catch a glimpse of the Philadelphia 76ers' D-League team, and Liberty Ballers was there to chronicle the proceedings:
- The main portion of the open practice was a 20-minute scrimmage/simulated game. Aquille Carr didn't start the game (he was the only healthy player not to do so), but when he came in, it was clear that he's the best playmaker on the team. His decision making was near flawless (he may have had one turnover in 15 minutes), and the offense ran far better when he was on the court. Carr was able to penetrate and get shots off despite his size, but he's going to struggle quite a bit when guarded by (and when being asked to defend) most 1s.
- Four players didn't suit up for the scrimmage: Norvel Pelle, Rodney Williams, Reggie Johnson and Justin Glover. I assume that they were all hurt, but none appeared to have any sort of major injury.
- I had never heard of Darin Mency before Saturday, but he was probably the best player on the court during the early portion of the scrimmage. He spent a lot of time manning the point, and he did a solid job of creating offense for himself and others. For what it's worth, he was the Sixth Man of the Year in the Premier Basketball League last season.
- Mfon Udofia and Nurideen Lindsey also spent a good amount of time running the point, but neither stood out all that much. In fact, there were several times where both forced the issue and threw the ball away. The 87ers have enough athleticism to get out on the break as much as they please, but they'll have more than their fair share of turnovers as well.
- Former Temple product Dustin Salisbery had a slow start, but he wound up dominating the last five minutes of the scrimmage. He may have the most consistent jumper on the team (at least he did Saturday), and it would be shocking if he didn't get significant time this season.
- Athanasios Anteokounmpo wasn't in attendance on Saturday (or, if he was, he looks wildly different from the photo supplied by the team).
- I'm probably reading way too much into a 20-minute practice, but the 87ers made an concerted effort to work the ball inside on each possession. Lots of cuts and motion, plenty of pick-and-rolls, and very few ill-advised shots. In all, there were maybe five "long 2s" during the entire 20-minute run.
- Speaking of jumpers, this team is going to have problems knocking down 3s. Salisbery, Mency and Carr are probably their best outside shooters, but that's not saying a whole lot.
All in all, they looked fairly good for a team that was going through its second day of organized practice. They'll obviously improve when Pelle and Williams get out on the court, and once head coach Rod Baker fully implements his system, they shouldn't have much trouble being competitive this season.