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Cameron Oliver hopes to maximize Summer League opportunity with Sixers

The former Delaware 87ers forward is an X factor on Philadelphia’s Summer League roster.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-Iowa State vs Nevada James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

With the glut of guards on the Philadelphia 76ers’ Summer League, 21-year-old forward Cameron “Cam” Oliver could have a sizable impact as a combo forward. After an impressive sophomore year averaging 16.0 points, 8.7 rebounds and 2.6 blocks in 31.9 MPG, the University of Nevada-Reno product went undrafted in the 2017 Draft. A quick stop with the Milwaukee Bucks’ G League affiliate, Wisconsin Herd, then joining the Delaware 87ers via trade on Jan. 26, Oliver gradually improved over the 2017-18 regular season.

During 18 games with the Sixers’ G League affiliate, Oliver’s numbers jumped from his initial stint with Wisconsin. In field-goal percentage (48.6 percent, 51.4 percent), three-point percentage (29.8 percent, 40.0 percent), rebounds per game (6.7 RPG, 7.5 RPG) and blocks per game (0.86 BPG, 1.0 BPG), Oliver improved primarily coming off of the bench. With the Summer Sixers bereft of NBA talent at the forward positions, excluding swingman Furkan Korkmaz and Jonah Bolden, Oliver could see extensive minutes. Jonah Bolden was a revelation last year and will join the frontcourt, originally per his agent, for needed two-way juice.

Familiarizing Sixers fans with what Oliver brings to the table as the likely starting power forward, the 6’8”, 239-pound bruiser’s game aesthetically pleases. Let’s evaluate his 24-point performance against Sioux Falls last year. In the first highlight, Oliver makes himself available for his guard to kick out to and proceeds to drill the three against a sagging defender.

Oliver’s motion is pretty unorthodox, as his body weight shifts towards the basket when he releases, but has the touch and motion that warrants optimism. Another important sequence (0:42 mark) shows, ironically, former Sixers two-way wing James Young throwing a deft outlet to a rim-running Oliver in transition who throws down an emphatic one-hand dunk. After, Oliver’s post game pops as he nails a fadeaway turnaround jumper and uses his 6’8” height and 7’1” wingspan to float a shot over a defender. Easily my favorite highlight from this game comes around 1:41 when Oliver “turns garbage into gold” Jonah Bolden style with the reverse put-back dunk in transition.

That was a single Cam Oliver game and it’s understandable why 87ers’ GM Elton Brand coveted him in a deal. Oliver’s blend of power, mobility and floor spacing at the 4 should complement the Sixers’ young guards plus he checks a lot of boxes for a modern-day big man.

Through a montage of his highlights spanning from Dec. 26, 2017 to Jan. 2, 2018, Oliver shows his alley-oop potential and finishing around the basket. And at 239 pounds, get out of the way when he’s elevating.

Now, Oliver dishes out the damage against his former team in an 87ers uniform. Evaluating his 19-point, 13-rebound performance against Wisconsin last season, we’re welcomed with Oliver’s nonstop offensive activity. He covered a ton of ground this game by cutting to the rim, floor spacing where defenders are hesitant of Oliver beating them off the dribble, and finishing with authority at the rim.

With Landry Shamet and Demetrius Jackson likely patrolling the point guard position for the majority of the team’s minutes, Oliver provides the duo with a legitimate pick-and-roll big who can flash to the perimeter for a three or engulf alley-oop lobs for flushes. Spending time alongside Jackson last year in Houston for a brief period, the two already possess a strong rapport. Oliver loves the chemistry Philadelphia will bring to Las Vegas, and is primed to play in his second Summer League opportunity.

With a full season featuring experience in both Summer League and the G League, Oliver is equipped to handle a significant role at 21.

“During last season it was a big learning lesson for me but now I evaluated myself over the summer, put a lot of work in, [and worked on] a lot of my weaknesses,” Oliver said. “I just have a lot of confidence now. My confidence was shot because of the draft and everything…going through that big process mentally. Mentally I’m stronger, physically I’m better. I’m just ready to show that I have more confidence.”

Hoping to parlay that confidence into results, Oliver is using the Sixers’ minicamp as a building block for July success. When asked what he’s working on, Oliver mentioned developing versatility.

“All-around. Mainly, I’ve been focusing a lot on defense,” Oliver said. “My offense is going to come easily. Defense is what’s really going to make you win games. [I want to] just show my athleticism and defense, and be able to showcase as much as possible.”

With a golden opportunity, Cam Oliver has the skill package and mentality to have a memorable July experience as a Summer Sixer.

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