The Sixers (1-1) faced the Oklahoma City Thunder (1-1) in each team's final action of Salt Lake City Summer League. An abhorrent first quarter was too much to overcome, although Philadelphia made a valiant comeback in a 100-91 defeat.

Before we get to what I saw, some notes.

Contextual Notes

David Akinyooye started Tre Mann, Hunter Maldonado, Jared Butler, Ousmane Dieng, and KJ Williams.

Nick Nurse did not coach the Sixers in this game. Assistant Rico Hines served as head coach.

Hines started Terquavion Smith, Jaden Springer, Ricky Council IV, Azuolas Tubelis, and Filip Petrusev.


Definitely understand any concern or frustration related to Springer seemingly being the same offensive player he was at the end of last season. Going into year three, I'm not sure what realistic progress would look like on that end of the floor at this point. But, it seems likely that we're looking at a maybe average role player on that end of the floor. Nonetheless, it was clear the Sixers wanted to put the ball in his hands more in this game, if only to see what he was willing to try. And I thought he was pleasantly aggressive with the rock.

No, it ultimately didn't translate to much in a blowout loss. But, Springer was the only beacon of light for Philadelphia in the first half. He attacked the basket with paint with strength, taking the ball right to the Thunder's chests and demanding that someone help. Springer didn't care if there was simply no way he was going to get all the way to the rim; he was going to take on the contact and live with whatever the outcome was. His aggression was rewarded to the tune of six free throws in the first half - nearly half of the Sixers' attempts from the charity stripe through two quarters.

Springer even had a few nice moves to the basket, taking contact through a finish for the bucket and the harm. He moved well through space, navigating around a defender quickly for a smooth layup in the halfcourt on one possession.

He did make a few bad decisions as he drove, running possessions into the ground because he dribbled himself into no man's land. But, that didn't dissuade Springer's confidence. He continued to accept the ball and navigate decisions as the clear top option.

If he can ever get enough strength under his jumper to eliminate the load he currently needs to get threes off, Springer might actually be an interesting shooter. He has an exceptionally wide jab step that creates a good bit of room. If he can leverage that in tandem with a serviceable shot, Springer is suddenly a much more valuable offensive player.

Besides being eager to shoot and weaponizing some exceptional athleticism, Council IV has a terrific sense and motor for chasing long offensive rebounds. There have been a number of plays in each of these Salt Lake City games in which he's blown up a would-be long defensive rebound by beating the opposition to the ball and crashing to secure it himself or tipping it away so that another teammate can get it or it goes out of bounds. Not only does it take away a transition opportunity for the opponent, but it might even create an extra play for the Sixers.


The first half was a classic ugly Summer League game. Sloppiness, bad chemistry; all the signs of a team of prospects thrown together at the last second. The turnovers were absolutely brutal. And Philadelphia operated at a massive deficit basically from the jump.

You almost had to wonder about the effects of a back-to-back. Perhaps the Sixers were extremely fatigued from playing a close game on Wednesday. However, that excuse holds far less validity when you consider that Oklahoma City was on the second night of a back-to-back, as well. But, this is Summer League, after all. There's going to be some odd variance.

Even so, it was bizarre to see Smith so unaggressive. Of course, that's just in relative terms. He was still the second leading scorer on the Sixers. But, he certainly wasn't shooting at every inch of space like he did in the first two games.

I think the best thing I can say about Petrusev is that you notice him grabbing rebounds. If the ball is coming off the rim in his vicinity, he's a good bet to come down with it. That's more than I can say about Tubelis, though. I really don't see it with him right now, and that's being charitable.

The Sixers will head to Las Vegas for NBA 2K24 Summer League. They'll face the New York Knicks on Saturday at 5 p.m., Eastern time. You can watch the game on NBA TV.

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