Arsalan Kazemi Moves to the Wing in Summer League

Ezra Shaw

After a rough first game where he collected fouls like 1997 Me collected pogs, the Sixers moved him off the 4-spot.

We haven't been shy about our love for Iranian forward Arsalan Kazemi out of the University of Oregon. If it weren't for the visual of a tank wearing a jersey, he would already be our collective favorite player on the Sixers. And while we initially thought of him as Faried-lite, the Sixers are toying with a decision that could definitely open a few things up for the Ayatollah of Pick and Rolla -- a nickname that would likely be offensive if it weren't so much fun to say and also Chris Jericho.

Sam Hinkie and Michael Curry decided to move him to small forward in Monday's loss to Indiana. This from Friend of the Blog, Brett Koremenos of Grantland, who has been texting me pictures of Sam Hinkie's ass in Orlando all week:

The turnaround in Kazemi’s production coincided with a change of position. Instead of playing as an undersized 4 again, the Sixers staff moved Kazemi to the wing for almost every minute he played in yesterday’s game. The young forward did well, running the outside lanes hard in transition and staying disciplined in his spacing, and he looked more natural than expected catching and driving off kickout passes. Though it won’t be easy defending in space against wings, Kazemi has the foot speed and work rate to at least become adequate on that end.

I caught up with Kazemi after the game and asked if this was a random switch in between games or something the team has planned long-term. He said the team had him training as a wing in practices leading up to the summer league and that it’s the position he plays for the Iranian national team as well. I asked what was different or difficult about his first go at it in a professional setting.

"The only hard thing between the transition from the power forward and the 3 is that I always want to go to the offensive glass," he responded, later adding that the coaches needed to remind him that as a wing his responsibilities now required Kazemi to be more disciplined in getting back on defense after a shot goes up.

I'd assume this was more Hinkie than Curry, but either way, it's encouraging. I imagine the corner three is going to play a huge role in Sam Hinkie's offense, just as the league's been trending that way (see: Pondexter, Quincy). Considering how literally non-existent Kazemi's jumper was in college (two 3's attempted in 4 years), I don't expect him to ever be a knockdown shooter. Even if he has something from the outside, you'd still need to pair him with a big man that can shoot. Love the defensive potential here. No doubt he'll work his ass off on an offensive game as well.

And this didn't take away from his KAZEMI-ness on the court either. Per Brandon in his recap: "It's hard not to love the energy and hustle this guy brings to the court. Instant fan favorite. At one point he had a monster block that he swatted into the next area code. Finished with 6 points, 4 steals, 3 rebs, and infinity awesomeness."

Just waiting on that first Dunk Flex, bro.

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