The Philadelphia 76ers open up Utah Jazz Summer League on Monday, July 4th. Eyes will be on Ben Simmons but fans could be surprised by others.
Summer League has been an important time for the rebuilding Philadelphia 76ers. Not only is it a way for draft selections to transition into the NBA, it is also a way for the team to uncover some hidden gems.
The Philadelphia 76ers will participate in the Utah Jazz Summer League and the Samsung NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, as they did last season.
The schedule for the Utah Jazz Summer League includes July 4th vs. Celtics at 7:00pm ET, July 5th vs. Spurs at 5:00pm ET, and July 7th vs. Jazz at 9:00pm ET. The Samsung NBA Summer league schedule for the Philadelphia 76ers includes July 9th vs. Lakers at 8:30pm ET, July 10th vs. Bulls at 8:30pm ET, and July 12th vs. Warriors at 8:30pm ET. Depending on how the team does, there could be some more games coming their way.
The Philadelphia 76ers will once again try to find a gem, like they did with T.J. McConnell, who will be once again be on the Summer League squad.
McConnell is one player everyone will be eyeing these next two weeks. McConnell had a great Summer League stint last season, earning him a surprise role with the team. After making the regular season roster, McConnell exploded in the beginning of last season and earned himself the “everyday player” title. His role diminished with the arrival of Ish Smith, but maintained decent productivity. Even with McConnell’s success, he hasn’t solidified a roster spot yet.
The Philadelphia 76ers have recently signed point guard Jerryd Bayless, who seemingly will have a leg up on McConnell to start, but the team is still searching for another guard option. This puts McConnell’s role and playing time at jeopardy. McConnell will have to replicate his early season success to remain a relevant factor of this roster.
He is still on one of the most team-friendly contracts in the league, which helps him in when the Philadelphia 76ers decide on his future with the team.
Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot was the Philadelphia 76ers’ biggest steal of the draft. Even with that, there are still big questions about his game transitioning into the NBA. The Adriatic League he played in is questionable talent-wise, but he has the physical tools to become a very good starting wing in the NBA.
The two biggest factors in Summer League that could foreshadow his early success in the NBA is how his mid-range/3-point jump shot will land against potential NBA defenders, and how he can defend the wing position.
Luwawu-Cabarrot will have exciting moments in Summer League, as his transition game will be on for show, but if his weaknesses start to be polished, he could become a nice contributor as early as next season. It will also be important to see how he produces offensively while he’s on the court with Ben Simmons.
Off-ball movement will have to be emphasized when Simmons is on the court, and Luwawu-Cabarrot will benefit from making the correct cuts and moving in-and-out of the perimeter the most this Summer League.
Richaun Holmes is the Philadelphia 76ers with the murkiest future, and it’s not entirely due to his play. Holmes was a bright star in last year’s Summer League before getting injured, and played decently well in the regular season in the minimal chances he had towards the middle of the season.
Holmes struggled to stay on the court due to injuries and may have fell out of favor with coach Brett Brown towards the end of last season. Now, with Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, and Dario Saric joining the packed front court, Holmes will have to have an even bigger summer league than he had last year.
The most underwhelming part of Holmes’ game was his outside shooting. Holmes shot 16-67 (23.8%) from 10ft. and over, including 3-pointers. Holmes showed some potential stretch-four ability while playing at Bowling Green, but his game hasn’t translated in that way.
Holmes can still be the Philadelphia 76ers’ small-ball center, but that depends on how much the team values that aspect. Although Holmes has had little chances to prove his worth, he may very well be an odd man out this season.
James Nunnally is a familiar face for the Philadelphia 76ers, as he had a short 9 game stint with the team in 2013-14. Nunally has since played overseas, one season with Tuenti Movil Estudiantes (Spain), and one season with Sidigas Avellino (Italy). Nunnally is an attacking scorer who may prove to be surprising this Summer League.
His outside shot caught fire overseas, and although the perimeter defense isn’t as lockdown as in the NBA, he could prove to be an effective scorer off the bench. Nunnally is a pure small forward, a position the Philadelphia 76ers may not be in need of considering Robert Covington‘s presence and the ability to shift Simmons, Jerami Grant, or even Dario Saric to play the three when needed.
Nunnally is perfect for an end of the bench role where he can contribute scoring whenever the team is facing injury issues.
Along with these four potential impact Summer League players, the team has also added Bryon Allen, Javon McCrea, Alex Caruso, Maodo Lo , James Webb III, Kwame Vaughn, Levi Randolph, Shawn Long and Tomasz Gielo to round out the roster, per Keith Pompey.
The Philadelphia 76ers will hope to find a surprise player in the next few weeks, but more importantly hoping Ben Simmons finds his groove early. The Summer League squad may be more exciting than ever this season.