The Sixers kicked off their abbreviated Summer League schedule yesterday in Orlando. If you haven't heard, the Sixers went the budget route in splitting a roster with the Nets. Representing the Sixers are Marreese Speights and Jrue Holiday. After the jump we'll talk a little about the game, and a little more about how the Sixers are wasting time and money.
The combined team lost to Indiana in overtime, 75-67. Speights led the game in scoring with 28 points (on 26 shots), he also grabbed 11 boards and blocked two shots. Jrue Holiday's offense was lacking, but he made up for it with 4 boards, 4 steals and two blocks on the defensive end. Jrue ran the point, but didn't spend a whole lot of time initiating offense, mainly because offense was rarely run.
I had a hard time watching the game due to a poor stream, but what I did see seemed somehow much worse than Summer League games of the past. Maybe it was the mixed roster, maybe it was the horrible announcers they had, but whatever the reason, this game looked like a pickup game in some random high school gym.
Speights' insane shot total really shouldn't be that shocking. The Summer League has always been about gunners. The shackles were removed from players like Nate Robinson and Lou Williams in the past and they dominated Vegas. Speights saw great success last season as well. This isn't a knock on Speights, it's just that this type of game is perfectly suited to his game.
Now, let's talk about why this joint team was such a horrible, terrible idea. At some point this Summer, the Sixers are going to need to learn a whole new offensive system. They're going to have to learn and/or re-learn responsibilities, movement, reactions, cuts off the ball. It can be broken down into simple sets or plays, but there is a lot to learn. By joining up with the Nets in a cost-cutting move, they're blowing an opportunity to get their young guys familiar with the system in what passes for live game situations. Instead, all we saw today were 1-4 sets, isos with Jrue handling the ball at the top of the key. Occasionally, Speights would set a screen for him, but for the most part it was one pass (at most) and then a contested shot. Other than physically seeing Jrue Holiday on the court, playing the point, I really don't know what the Sixers expect to gain from this experiment.
If they were going to enter a Summer League at all, they should've brought their own team and they should've brought more of the young guys and Coach Jordan should be on the sidelines, getting these guys acclimated to the offense. Lou Williams should be there getting a head start on the guard position in the PO, especially since there's a chance he could be the starting PG for this team.
If money really was the issue, then fine, just bag the Summer League altogether and get Jrue Holiday in the gym with Andre Iguodala for the Summer. Let Speights spend the Summer working on post moves, defensive positioning and rebounding with Moses Malone. I think there would be much more to gain from that type of experience than essentially throwing two of your youngest players into a haphazard pickup game that in no way resembles actual NBA action.
I won't lie to you, I've been looking forward to the first game in Orlando. I wanted to see Holiday just as much as you did, and I'll probably watch any game I can while they're down there. It's just a shame that the Sixers didn't take full advantage of the opportunity and honestly at this point I'm just crossing my fingers that Speights and Jrue come out of Orlando in one piece. This is a big Summer for the Sixers, I think Iguodala realizes it. I know most of the fans realize it. I guess I just wish the on-the-court preparation didn't seem like such a waste to me.
Eddie Jordan seems to agree with me on this one:
"I'm not a fan of it," Philadelphia coach Eddie Jordan admitted. "I like working with your own players and teaching your own guys, getting your own guys in your system."
"I don't want to have to berate their player for not picking up. It just doesn't seem right to get on their players for doing something that you want them to do."