Ricky Council IV stands out in Sixers’ SLC summer league win over Jazz: Likes and dislikes
The Sixers (0-1) faced off with the Utah Jazz (0-1) in each team's second game of the Salt Lake City summer league circuit. Ricky Council IV stood out in a 104-94 Sixers win.
Before we get to the action, some notes.
Nick Nurse started Javonte Smart, Jaden Springer, Terquavion Smith, Ricky Council IV, and Filip Petrusev.
Evan Bradds started Keyonte George, Ochai Agbaji, Micah Potter, Luka Samanic, and Vernon Carey Jr.
Smith operates with a glowing green light that is brightened by his own mindset if not by the confidence instilled in him by his coaches. It doesn't really matter where he is on the court or how much space he has, the rookie two-way signee will let it fly.
If the Jazz went under ball screens or dared to be a step slow lifting up on the other side of the pick, the ball was going up. Smith showcased more three-level scoring, attacking off the bounce and switching hands mid-drive for a smooth finish over a Utah contest at the rim.
Council IV stood out much more today than he did on Monday, at least in my eyes. His jumper is a work in progress. But, Council will walk into the Sixers' headquarters in Camden on day one of training camp and be one of the three most athletic players on the team right away. The guy simply detonates at the rim, flying high for powerful dunks. He has lift that allows him to just jump with the trees and still find the basket because he can get above the rim and that close to the basket.
Council also had some nice defensive moments, refusing to stand down on a Jazz drive in the fourth quarter. He vacuumed space with every bit of contact applied his way, forcing the ball-handler to turn around and reset the possession after getting deep into the paint on the drive. Council had some nice off-ball moments, too, screening for a teammate and cutting sharply to the basket late in the game.
It's very refreshing to see the Sixers operate with pace and force. Perhaps it's easier when you don't have Joel Embiid and James Harden eating up touch time and the legs are young. But, these guys were pushing it every chance they got. The kick-ahead passes were very deliberate, plugging shooters or whoever had the angle for a catch-and-go around the perimeter.
When Springer senses a chance to junk up the opposing offense by getting his hands involved, he doesn't just deflect the ball or try to cause a logjam. Springer pursues the ball until it's firmly in the other team's hands or his team comes up with it. He stays exceptionally low in his stance, and that low center of gravity helps him irritate ball-handlers quite well. If you're near Springer, you better be very secure with the rock.
I'll never discourage a guy from shooting in summer league. But, sometimes Smith will shoot so early in the touch that he won't wait for another look to develop. If he's open and it's a good shot, totally fine. It's when he's catching or taking one dribble and pulling up from several feet beyond the arc that you question it.
The only risk is you don't want to have the reputation of an unconscious jacker when you're just trying to get your foot in the NBA door; on the other hand, you also don't want your teammates to get annoyed that you're not really looking for them.
Why? Because, the ball won't always make it back to you if you're taking ill-advised shots early in the clock. If you're a shooter/scorer the way Smith clearly is, that's not the position you want to put yourself in with teammates on this type of stage.
The Sixers (1-1) will face the Oklahoma City Thunder (1-1) on Thursday. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m., Eastern time. You can watch the game on ESPN2.