Terquavion Smith continues to shine in Sixers’ loss to Mavs in Vegas Summer League: Likes and dislikes
The Sixers (1-0) faced off against the Dallas Mavericks (0-1) in Las Vegas Summer League action on Monday night. Terquavion Smith showed out on both sides of the ball, but the Sixers surrendered a 15-point fourth-quarter lead in a loss to the Mavericks.
Before we get to the game, some notes.
Jaden Springer was unavailable due to right ankle soreness. Marcus Bagley was out with a right hamstring injury.
Bobby Jackson coached the Sixers in place of Rico Hines.
Jackson started Terquavion Smith, Ricky Council IV, Javonte Smart, Lou King, and Filip Petrusev.
Jared Dudley started McKinley Wright IV, Jaden Hardy, AJ Lawson, Olivier-Maxence Prosper, and Dereck Lively II.
- You could see Smith take it up a notch in defensive effort very early in this one.
Of course, when defense isn't your forte, you're going to make some mistakes. And those mistakes manifest in picking up two fouls in short order. He was whistled for the harm on a bucket from Wright IV, and sent Hardy to the line for two a short moment later.
While trying too hard can cause things like that to happen, just being more aware on defense will help you make more plays. And on the possession after fouling Hardy, Smith leveraged his positive wingspan to reach out for a deflection on a pass to the weak side of the floor out of the pick-and-roll. The effort got the Sixers out and running, Smith taking the ball in for a left-handed dunk in transition.
But, it wasn't just some good instincts coupled with excessive exuberance. Smith made a real effort to stay in front of the ball. The Mavericks couldn't switch hunt on him or turn the corner, Smith moving his feet well and staying in front of the ball. There were even instances in which he turned the ball-handler around to force a possession reset, Smith beating his man to spots and denying dribble penetration.
- Don't look now, but Petrusev is beginning to get a hang for the defensive end of the floor, too.
I trust him to secure any defensive rebound that comes down on his side of the court in these games. He's also starting to track the ball better as a rim-protector. There was even one possession in the first half in which Petrusev stayed with the ball on a drive through the crowded paint and swatted the shot at the rim before the ball even got close to the basket.
Even if it isn't a gang-buster play like that, Petrusev is making real contests on shots just beyond the rim with more consistency. The rim protection is just a bare minimum skill nowadays. Petrusev is going to need to be able to step away from the restricted area to make his defensive impact. I'll leave it up to you to decide whether it'll translate to the hardwoods of the NBA.
- Smith's shooting and scoring at three levels is clearly the big draw, but his passing has been a dazzling secondary skill.
He's making no-look passes to the front of the body for shooters to catch and go up without sparing a second to think about it. Smith worked the pick-and-roll beautifully, making the defenders in the two-man game dance before threading passes to Petrusev for floaters or shots inside. Over the last few games, he's gotten better and better at leveraging dribble penetration to manipulate defenses out of position and punishing them with pocket-passes to cutters or lurking teammates at the rim.
Smith is a really fun prospect, quick and herky-jerky whenever the ball is in his hands. He has NBA range shooting off the catch, too. For that reason alone, he might have a chance to crack the Sixers' rotation in year one. He's shown multiple layers of versatility within a very short period of time.
- It wouldn't surprise me if we see Azuolas Tubelis' deal reworked to an exhibit 10 contract. I just don't think he's nearly good enough to justify a two-way spot right now.
The Sixers (1-1) will face the Atlanta Hawks (1-1) on Thursday. Tip-off is scheduled for 3:30 p.m., Eastern time. You can watch the game on NBA TV.