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Blue Coats check-in: New addition Kenneth Lofton, Jr. makes strong early impression

Kenneth Lofton, Jr. has shown why he’s the reigning G League Rookie of the Year through three games with the Blue Coats.

Chicago Bulls v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Ending 2023 with a bang, the Delaware Blue Coats secured a convincing victory over the Rip City Remix on the road, finishing with a score of 130-117. The start of the G League regular season is here, with the Coats currently sitting third in the conference with a 2-1 record.

Kenneth Lofton, Jr. fitting in with authority

The Sixers signed Kenneth Lofton, Jr. to a two-way contract over a week ago. Since then, he’s played in three games with the Delaware Blue Coats averaging 24 points, 9.3 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 2 steals and 1.3 blocks in 30.6 minutes of play. Not bad for the reigning G League Rookie of the Year.

Lofton Jr. has scored 30 or more points in two of his three games with the Blue Coats. These aren’t empty stats either, as his efficiency has been excellent early on. He’s shooting 53.3% from the field and 44.4% from three (on six attempts!). His offense is both real and sustainable, as he has showcased excellent body control and a soft touch around the rim.

Keep a close eye on Lofton Jr.’s three-point percentage in the coming weeks. Expanding his shooting range beyond the three-point line may prove pivotal in earning additional rotation minutes, especially in matchups against larger, slower forwards where he could potentially be utilized as a power forward.

Mo Bamba has had his fair share of ups and downs with the Sixers in limited time, so I’m a big fan of them signing and hopefully developing Lofton Jr. into a backup. Theoretically, he brings a completely different skillset to the big man spot than either Bamba or Paul Reed.

Darius Bazley rolls out of bed with 20 & 10!

Just a month after the Blue Coats traded a first-round pick for him, Darius Bazley has shown his value, putting up impressive averages of 18 points, 10 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1 steal and 2.7 blocks over the last three games.

Bazley’s athleticism and defense are very real, however his lack of a jump shot in the modern NBA will overshadow his impact from these areas. Through nearly 10 games, Bazley’s three-point percentage has yet to crack 30 percent. This will have to improve if Bazley truly has an NBA comeback in the works.

Shooting concerns aside, Bazley’s frame, athleticism, activity and young age (he’s only 23!) make him an intriguing candidate for an end-of-roster spot or for a future training camp deal. He’s capable of putting up double-doubles on a nightly basis in the G League, and has proven he’s one of the better talents.

Terquavion Smith’s efficiency trends in the right direction

If you’ve been following our previous Blue Coats updates, you’re aware that the young guard, Terquavion Smith, has posted some impressive stat lines but faced challenges with efficiency in the G League. However, it appears that Smith might be hitting his stride with the Blue Coats, as he has shot 44.2 percent from the field and 36.4 percent from three in the last three games. These percentages alone are good, but even better when you factor in Smith taking 17.3 shots and 11 threes per contest over this stretch.

Terq Smith is a certified gunner, and long-term improvement with efficiency should be enough to get him time with the Sixers — especially if they keep blowing out teams in three quarters. You can never have too much floor spacing.

Ricky Council IV continues to shoot the ball well

Two-way player Ricky Council IV has been a steady shooter with the Delaware Blue Coats, hitting 41 of his 103 (39.8%) attempts from three throughout the G League Showcase. Now three games into the regular season, and Council IV has shown zero signs of slowing down his perimeter shooting. Through three games, he’s hit 41.2 percent of his threes, taking nearly six attempts per game and bumping his season average to 40 percent.

Council IV is an average-to-above-average player in all aspects outside of shooting, which makes his perimeter shooting progression intriguing at the very least. Keep an eye on his shot moving forward.

The Delaware Blue Coats will play their next game on Friday, Jan. 5, at 7 p.m. at Chase Fieldhouse in Wilmington, engaging in a back-to-back matchup against the Westchester Knicks. The game can be watched on DETV Channel 28 or streamed on YouTube.

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