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Las Vegas Summer League: Sixers vs Bucks Preview and Game Thread

NBA: Chicago Bulls at Philadelphia 76ers Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Las Vegas Summer League has arrived and even though the Sixers did not lay claim to a lottery-selected rookie in the 2019 NBA Draft, there is plenty to be excited about.

The Sixers’ Summer League roster features headliners Zhaire Smith, Shake Milton and Matisse Thybulle, as well as two-way contract designee Norvel Pelle and possible two-way contract designee Marial Shayok. Other interesting players include:

  • Haywood Highsmith (All-Name First Team and former Sixers two-way contract recipient)
  • Terry Harris (for no other reason than the fact that he is Tobias Harris’ brother)
  • Christ Koumadje (2019 undrafted free agent measuring in at 7’4” tall)
  • Deshon Taylor (guard out of Fresno state who shot 39.6% from three for his NCAA career)

You can take a look at the full roster below.

What to Watch For

  • Matisse Thybulle’s off-ball movement and instincts: Thybulle’s path to contributing to the pro squad in 2019-20 seems clear: hit threes and play plus defense. So as far as hitting threes goes, I’m interested to see how Thybulle moves around the court offensively to get good looks from deep. Does he have the energy and endurance to fly around screens or is his shot preference more so of the set/spot-up variety?
  • Zhaire Smith’s on-ball defense: Josh Richardson, and to a lesser extent Ben Simmons, will likely be responsible for guarding primary ball handlers in the starting lineup. But who could come off the bench and hound opposing point guards for the Sixers (especially bigger initiators as likely backup point guard Raul Neto stands at just 6’2”)? Zhaire Smith could be a candidate for Brett Brown. Zhaire’s quickness and overall athleticism make him an intriguing option as a point guard defender, but through high school and college, Smith often functioned as a wing/frontcourt defender. I’d like to see Zhaire be tested at the point of attack to get an idea as to whether he can be groomed for that kind of a role off the bench.
  • Can Shake Milton create?: Before the Sixers signed Raul Neto, there was a bit of a fear among fans that the Sixers were going to rely on Shake Milton for backup point guard minutes. Now with Neto on board, that fear is alleviated. However, Milton could still get some opportunities to initiate as a combo guard. Milton flashed self-creation ability at the G-League level, doing so with footwork and touch. On the skill spectrum, Summer League is much closer to the G-League than the NBA, but I’m still excited to see Shake operate in real time to get a sense of whether he projects to merely eat garbage time minutes or actually provide value off the bench.
  • Can Marial Shayok shoot the rock?: The word on Shayok as a prospect is that if he sticks in the NBA, it will be on account his shooting. Shayok shot 38.1% from three on 331 career attempts at the NCAA level, a commendable mark; however, Shayok really didn’t produce at volume until his senior season, after transferring to Iowa State from Virginia. Did he have an outlier final season or is there untapped potential and a growing player there? Whatever he does in Summer League as a shooter statistically will be too small of a sample size to make any real conclusions. But his shooting form, shot selection, off-ball instincts, free throw motion, could all be indications of his chance of success.

Game Info

Who: Philadelphia 76ers vs. Milwaukee Bucks (Summer League Rosters)

When: 3:30 pm EST

Where: Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas, NV

Watch: ESPN2

Follow: @Liberty_Ballers

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