The Delaware Blue Coats kicked off their season this weekend against the Raptors 905 (Raptors affiliate) and the Maine Red Claws (Celtics affiliate), walking away with a disappointing 0-2 record. Despite losing both games (126-125 vs. Raptors 905, 132-124 vs. Red Claws), there were some positives for the Blue Coats. Demetrius Jackson and Shake Milton are both on two-way contracts with the Sixers, and Jonah Bolden, though currently demoted to the G-League, is on a 4-year deal with the Sixers. All three players showed flashes over the Blue Coats opening weekend.
Demetrius Jackson likes it in the G-League, or at least his results would indicate as much. Jackson scored a total of 60 points over the first two games of the G-League season (34 points against the Raptors 905, 26 points against the Maine Red Claws), shooting 51% from the floor including 6 three-pointers. The Red Claws were able to thwart Jackson’s facilitating, limiting him to only 4 assists. However, the Raptors 905 weren’t as successful the day before in limiting Jackson’s distributions, as he handed out 13 dimes.
In baseball, a replacement-level player is known as a 4A (AAAA) player. Too good to be playing triple-A ball, not good enough to be playing Major League ball. That seems to be an apt description for the 24-year-old Demetrius Jackson.
Jonah Bolden received every opportunity to make an impact, as Blue Coats head coach Connor Johnson (who took the job on June 18th after spending four seasons on Brett Brown’s coaching staff) played Bolden 74 minutes over the first two games. Bolden’s G-League tenure got off to quite an encouraging start, with Bolden scoring 28 points on 9 of 16 shooting (3 of 8 from 3PT), to go along with 16 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 blocks against the Raptors 905. Unfortunately, Bolden wasn’t able to maintain the strong play against the Maine Red Claws.
Bolden struggles against the Red Claws began with his shooting. The rookie was able to hit just four of his 15 field goal attempts and just one of his five shots from beyond the arc. Maybe more concerning, although a raw glimpse of his play, was Jonah’s -18 +/- differential, bad enough for 2nd worst on the team. It wasn’t all bad against Maine though, as Bolden did rack up 15 boards and dished out 3 assists.
Like Bolden, Shake Milton had an even distribution of one promising showing and one uninspiring outing (though Milton’s high wasn’t as exciting as that of Bolden) and was permitted plenty of tic with 70 minutes total. Against Raptors 905, Milton really let it fly, taking 22 FGA but connecting on just eight (1 of 6 from 3PT). Milton hardly made his mark elsewhere in the box score, tacking on just four rebounds and two assists. He did contribute one block but also had a turnover.
Against the Red Claws though, Milton had a better performance. He tied his point total from the game against the Raptors 905 with 17, but did so more efficiently: 7 of 15 from the floor and 3 of 6 from deep. His one assist was mitigated by a frustrating three turnovers, but Milton was able to tally five rebounds and three steals.
- DJ Hogg: The Texas A&M product hasn’t gotten as many minutes as some might hope, seeing just 14 minutes of action against the Raptors 905 and just a minute more versus the Red Claws. (Remember that Hogg was initially slated to receive one of the Sixers’ two two-way contracts.) Hogg hasn’t been a scoring threat, laying a goose egg in the Raptors game and recording just seven points against the Red Claws. He was a positive in both games according to plus/minus, but with such a limited sample size, it’s tough to put much stock into those numbers.
- Novel Pelle: Summer League participant Novel Pelle is another guy like Demetrius Jackson, in that so far, he just seems at home in the G-League. Over 39 minutes of play this weekend, Pelle scored the ball with near perfect efficiency, going 11 of 12 from the floor. He was active on the glass, gobbling up 18 boards. Pelle was able to offer some rim protection with five total blocks on the weekend, but how effective he truly was is questionable, as he accumulated 11 fouls.
- Haywood Highsmith: I didn’t know who Haywood Highsmith (which sounds like a video game-generated name) was prior to this weekend. But the 6’7” small forward out of, ahem, Wheeling Jesuit?, now has my interest to be sure. Highsmith scored 16 points (1 of 1 from 3PT), adding in 8 rebounds vs. the Raptors 905. Against Maine, Highsmith contributed 15 points, and although his rebounds were down at just two, Highsmith flashed some range going 3 of 4 from deep. Should I really be interested in Highsmith? I don’t know, have you really looked at the Sixers’ wings lately?
vs. Raptors 905
vs. Red Claws