Upon my entering of the Palestra I was both honored that my graduate alma mater would be hosting this event and disgraced when I saw the free t-shirt given to me – it had nothing to do with the Sixers, but was simply a black shirt containing NBA propaganda and logo.
As I made my way to the stands I was actually quite surprised by the number of people there. I arrived around 5:15pm with plenty of time to settle in and find a nice seat amongst the Sixers fans. As I looked around I was quite surprised at the number of Charlotte Bobcats and Indiana Pacers fans there – none. Anyway, after the Sixers dancers danced their lovely dances and shook their lovely dance-shakers, we were soon greeted by the players who threw miniature toy basketballs into the stands. Most of the players just chucked them up where the large crowd was hovering on the sides. Hawes, though, tried to be cool and throw one length-wise across the arena and into a small crowd of people, but missed. Hilarity ensued.
After Iguodala and Brand spoke to the fans, Sweet Lou got up on the mic and beat-boxed a thank you speech (at least in my mind he did). Then, Doug Collins himself let everybody know that this team plans on working hard and improving from last year. In fact, 50 wins would certainly be the obtainable goal if this season were 82 games long, but it’s not, so they won’t be winning that many games.
The team went through a series of warm-up and conditioning sets, then through some impressive-looking four-on-four and five-on-five defensive drills. Speezy, however, just took to spinning in circles and trying to bounce a basketball off his head. He failed at this several times.
During the drills and entertaining scrimmage I made a number of observations. Feel free to read through these or just laugh at my inability to pull a Stefanski and make basketball sense.
- I was impressed with Silas’ shooting form. He looks like he has a solid shot, and also decent handles. I’d like to see the him get signed as a backup PG.
- Speights just looks lost out there. He seems so talented, but has one too many screws loose. He also looks out of game shape. Everyone already knew this, I’m just restating it after observation from close-up. In my honest opinion, he’s literally a brain away from being a great contributor on this team. How much do brains go for these days?
- Iguodala clearly looks like the best player on the team. He was hitting a lot of his shots tonight, so that’s at least a good sign. Most of the jumpers he took were plays set-up when his feet were set. If he’s going to take jumpers, I’d like to see them taken in this way.
- Another interesting note is that Iguodala and Meeks were taking perimeter shots together at the beginning. This was the first time I was able to get a closer look at Meeks and Iguodala shooting side by side in consecutive fashion. Meeks, of course, has the more refined stroke. However, seeing it next to Iguodala’s made me appreciate Meeks’ shot that much more. His release is quicker and of course his form is better. His role between Iguodala and Jrue should not be underestimated.
- I was impressed with a bunch of Jrue’s playmaking and driving. However, he seems to struggle when he tries to drive and gets cut-off with a double-team. Something I’ll keep my eyes on when I watch them play for real.
- There was one play in particular where Holiday drove into traffic, did an amazing spin move and went up for the lay-up. I’m not sure if he could pull that off against the more athletic bigs in the league, but it was definitely impressive. I hope to see more of these aggressive drives from him this season.
- Iguodala and Lou were the only ones drawing fouls – no surprise there
- Brand was Brand, Meeks was Meeks, and Hawes was Hawes. Hawes, though, did have one bizarre fast-break dunk. Not too many teams would allow this to happen.
- Thad hit some jumpers, but I still wasn’t convinced that he can hit them consistently. His release is kind of slow and awkward.
- Voose looks lost. He did have a block on Hawes. Funny to see too relatively unathletic centers try to defend each other.
- Collins basically sat there and let the other coaches run the show. I liked this. If, in the past, he used to wear on the players by getting on them all the time, taking a more passive role like he was should help to alleviate whatever tension might build-up over time.
- Also, defense on both sides looked solid. It was interesting to see Iguodala guarding Lou. Lou got past him on a couple of drives, although he didn’t get into the lane and Brand helped pretty well to push Lou to the baseline.
- Brackins played at the three and struggled guarding Iguodala.
- Silas struggled guarding Jrue. Definitely a difference between the bench players trying to defend and the starters. Regardless, there was enough cohesion to convince me that they look ready to start the season strong.