The Sixers are currently utilizing roster space on effective role players that entered the NBA as undrafted free agents. Robert Covington and TJ McConnell, both undrafted free agents just a few years ago, made key contributions to the Sixers in the ‘17-’18 season. So if any franchise knows the value of finding players amongst NBA Draft rejects, it is the Sixers.
So it is a bit strange that the Sixers have invited just one undrafted free agent to summer league thus far: Tra Holder, point guard out of Arizona State University. (We’ll get to him later.)
The Sixers could have limited roster space not too long from now. Jonah Bolden may come over from Europe. Dario Saric may come over. The Sixers left draft night with three additions (Zhaire Smith, Landry Shamet & Shake Milton). And free agency begins in just 6 days — although, contracts can’t actually be signed until July 6th. So it’s not as if the Sixers should struggle to fill their roster. But still, what can be gained from being conservative in inviting players to Summer League? Many enticing options have already been scooped up by rival teams, such as Rawle Atkins (Raptors), Trevon Duval (Rockets) and Alonzo Trier (Knicks), among others.
As currently constructed, the Sixers appear to have one of the smallest rosters for Summer League. (Presumed participants for Philly at this point are Zhaire Smith, Landry Shamet, Shake Milton and Tra Holder.) That roster should grow a bit more. I’d guess that Bolden, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and Furkan Korkmaz will participate in Summer League. But I doubt Fultz will be in Vegas, and I’d prefer he continue training with Drew Hanlen anyway.
Hopefully the Sixers turn it up a notch soon and go pursue a few UDFAs to finalize the Summer League squad. At the very least, we need some entertainment value. Grab a James Blackmon Jr. here, throw in a little Melo Trimble there. Voilà.
Moving on to the one UDFA that the Sixers have invited to Summer League, Tra Holder is a 6’1” guard out of Arizona State that probably weighs less than I do. Holder put in a heck of a college career, though. He played four seasons at Arizona State, and this last season was his best statistical performance.
Through 32 games in ‘17-’18, Holder’s per game averages were 18.2 points (on a not so pretty 40.7% from the field), 4.2 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1.3 steals and 2.4 turnovers. Holder started in all 32 of his team’s games in each of the last 3 seasons. As far as I can tell, the highlight of Holder’s college career came on November 24th, 2017, when Holder dropped 40 points on Xavier, going 14 of 22 from the floor. And just five days before that performance, he scored 35 against UC-Irvine, on 13 makes out of 15 FGA.
Tra was really the life-blood of ASU’s run to the NCAA Tournament and cemented himself as one of the better scorers in the school’s history. He worked phenomenally in Bobby Hurley’s offense where he wasn’t asked to carry the load but was given the freedom to play-make without very many set plays.
He crafted his game towards driving into the lane and becoming a menace at the free throw line — a very impressive skill for an undersized guard like Holder. Despite starting the season as a Player of the Year candidate, he regressed as the year concluded and kind of molded into the form that many had seen from him in his first three years. He’s an average 3-point shooter and, as a point guard, isn’t a great passer. On defense, quicker guards would often get by him without a hitch and his size obviously limits him on that end of the floor.
Some have tried to compare him to T.J. McConnell and I think that is probably his ceiling as a player — a great role player whose hustle and tenacity can make his skills stand out to teams in certain situations. Their personality is similar, too, Tra brought a fiery attitude to the court despite being pretty quiet off of of it and became the leader of ASU his senior season.
Sounds like a guy I can enjoy in Summer League. Big thanks to Jordan for sharing his insight!