While it likely feels like a lifetime, It was only about six weeks ago when we saw the Philadelphia 76ers fall at home to the Atlanta Hawks in Game 7 of the second round of the playoffs. After that highly disappointing defeat, fans are eager to turn the page and look towards the future, and there’s no better place to do that than NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.
We were denied Vegas basketball in 2020 thanks to the COVID-19 global pandemic, but the action in the desert is back and the Summer Sixers do not lack for intriguing names on this year’s roster. Every Sixers draft pick from the last two years is expected to play, beginning with 2020 first-round pick Tyrese Maxey, who is expected to assume a larger role with the big club in the 2021-22 season following some tremendous postseason performances. It will be a terrific opportunity to see Maxey run the offense as “the guy” for extended stretches (ya know, and not in a situation where the entire team is basically out due to COVID and Adam Silver makes them play anyway).
The rest of the 2020 draft class should be fun to watch, as well. Paul Reed became a fan favorite with his “get it out the mud” mentality, and backed it up on the court with a G League MVP campaign. Isaiah Joe flashed his potential as a 3-point marksman, and springy two-way contract Rayjon Tucker might literally bounce out of the gym if he’s not careful.
Of course, today is also our first glimpse at the 2021 rookie class, starting with 28th overall pick Jaden Springer. Still just 18 years old, Springer was viewed as a great value that late in the first round and projects as a 3-and-D backcourt partner alongside Maxey. Daryl Morey has indicated Filip Petrusev will spend this year overseas, but Petrusev has expressed a desire to come over and could fit the much-coveted “Stretch 5” role down the road. While I’m sure he’ll see plenty of time with the Blue Coats, fellow big man Charles Bassey might be in the mix as the third center for the Sixers. Finally, undrafted Michigan State wing Aaron Henry was just signed to the Sixers’ other two-way contract; we’ll see how far away he is from contributing at the pro level out of the gate.
On the other sidelines, as far as Summer League teams go, the Mavericks lack for “star power”. Dallas did not make a single pick in the 2021 NBA Draft. While technically on the Mavs’ Summer League roster, 2020 first-round pick Josh Green will not be playing this afternoon after earning a bronze medal representing Australia. The headliners for Dallas here include 2020 second-round pick Tyrell Terry and Nate Hinton, who went undrafted but was picked up by the Mavericks on a two-way contract last year. The pair combined for just 32 NBA games played as rookies.
Summer Sixers by a million.
Who: Philadelphia (Summer) 76ers vs. Dallas Mavericks
When: 4:00 pm ET
Where: Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas, NV
Watch: NBA TV, TSN2