James Webb III is just over one week into his first NBA contract, but his objectives as a player illustrate his exceptional basketball and professional acumen. Inking a two-year un-guaranteed deal after impressing in workouts leading up to the draft, Webb understands there are no guarantees surrounding his contract or his professional career.
The only thing that's been given to him, as a player, is a scholarship from Boise State, a product of tireless work in high school. Playing Division I basketball wasn't even a definite, as Webb had to take classes at North Idaho College before entering the friendly confines of Boise, Idaho. Webb isn't viewing this opportunity to play in the Summer League for the Sixers as a lottery ticket, it's a lifeline for his playing career that he seeks to capitalize on.
Webb cashed in at his workout with the Philadelphia 76ers, parlaying an exceptional workout into signing with a team he felt comfortable with leading up to the draft.
"That was probably one of my best workouts," Webb said. "I missed like one shot during the workout. I got good feedback leading up to the draft and I can't complain because I got picked up."
Webb describes the Sixers as "young and exciting" and is anxious to get to play professionally with a team that is growing and could give him an opportunity. While his role for summer league has yet to be determined, Webb believes that he'll be utilized in a similar manner to what he was asked to do at Boise State University last season.
"To knock down the open shot when I have it, just play defense and hustle," Webb said. "All the intangible stuff that people don't like to do."
Playing in the Mountain West Conference during the 2015-16 season as a redshirt junior for the Broncos, Webb exhibited both exceptional defense (94 DRtg per sports-reference.com) and athleticism, while contributing 15.8 PPG and 9.1 RPG.
As his game diversified from his sophomore campaign, the 22-year-old lost a bit of touch of his range (24.8 percent from three last season). However, Webb's other skills flashed and he was able to benefit the team in a plethora of ways. His stats (points, rebounds, assists, steals) increased from his sophomore to junior season at Boise State and Webb's complementary play to scorers Nick Duncan and Anthony Drmic, last season, illustrated his affinity to improve.
At 6'9" and 202 pounds, Webb doesn't only prioritize versatility as a forward, he understands how he can accommodate teams while the NBA shifts in nature.
"I'm trying to mold my game into a wing player at the next level, but I can do what anybody needs me to do," Webb said. "Versatility, I feel like, gives me more of an opportunity to stay on the floor. Especially since the league is going small now."
NBA teams' propensity to downsize their rotations and open up the floor was especially evident in Indiana, where Paul George was asked to play heavy minutes at the 4 after assuming the wing spots his first four seasons prior to injury. Webb doesn't solely admire the Pacers' offensive catalyst, he's also trying to emulate PG13's game.
"I'm working out with Mike Penberthy, Paul George's trainer, to transform into a dynamic wing player and improve my ball handling," Webb said. "I'll do whatever team's need but I'm also trying to transform into that type of player [George] with time."
George is the epitome of this alteration of the association and the "position-less" dichotomy between previous eras of the NBA and what's currently a buzz word describing teams' rotations. Webb's understanding and realization of this changing landscape only breeds optimism for his ability to stick in a hyper-competitive professional environment, where wings have to perform a bevy of tasks.