Fultz’s Focus Remains Defense
The morning after the last of their three outings in the Utah Jazz Summer League, the 76ers flew one hour south to Las Vegas, where they open play in the MGM Resorts NBA Summer League Saturday versus Golden State (10:30 PM EST).
Upon landing, and being greeted by a 115-degree heat blast, the Sixers immediately headed to practice at the University of Nevada – Las Vegas. Markelle Fultz, who sat out Thursday’s Jazz Summer League finale for rest, took part in the session, and seemed ready to go for Saturday’s tilt.
As for his goals for the second part of the Sixers’ summer league schedule, the No.1 pick doesn’t plan to change his priorities much. The bulk of his focus continues to be on the defensive side of the ball.
While Fultz and the Sixers were in Utah, he and assistant Lloyd Pierce, who will be coaching the team in Las Vegas, played text tag, with Pierce sharing feedback on Fultz’s defense. Fultz found the communication to be valuable.
“That’s what I want – I want criticism,” said Fultz. “That’s going to make me better as a player to help this team.”
“He’s going to work on defense, first,” said Pierce, who coordinates the Sixers’ defense during the regular season. “That’s an area that he’s come into our organization wanting to address. He’s been criticized, probably unfairly.
“When you’re a No. 1 pick, and you’re as talented as he is, and he’s a young guy still learning, when he hears something, you see his competitive side come out, and you see him wanting to address it.”
Specifically, Fultz is concentrating on staying in front of his man, working through screens, and showing toughness. He believes that his defensive success will be dictated, in large part, by mindset.
“Here, everybody’s skilled,” Fultz said of adjusting to the NBA. “Any given day, you’re going to get blown by – everybody can score the ball. Just the fact of being more mental, until you’re locked in.”
On the offensive end, Fultz did just fine in the Jazz Summer League. He scored 40 points in 49 minutes, sinking 46.9 percent of his total shots (15-32) and 6 of 13 3-pointers.
Watching from home in the Philadelphia area, Pierce saw a prospect who, more than anything else, was “fluid.”
“He’s fearless, he’s very fluid, with or without the basketball,” Pierce said Friday. “He knows how to score, he scores in a variety of ways – behind the 3-point line, with the mid-range pull-up, he can get downhill into the rim.
“I think the thing I enjoy watching the most is he’s a very willing ball-mover – just gets off the ball easily. He’s not one of those guys that’s going to pound it. Anytime you’re a willing ball-handler, or willing passer, your teammates enjoy playing with you, and I think our guys are going to like playing with him.”
Sixers Make Addition to Summer League Roster
As the Sixers shift from the Utah Jazz to MGM Resorts NBA Summer League, the team’s roster will remain almost entirely intact, with the exception of one addition. Mouhammadou Jaiteh, a 6-foot-11, 247-pound Frenchman, has landed a spot in the club’s frontcourt rotation. He’s played professionally overseas the last six seasons, and worked out for the Sixers prior to the 2015 draft.
“This is a very good opportunity,” said Jaiteh, who averaged 8.6 points and 5.3 rebounds in 20.0 minutes per game for Strasbourg IG of the French A-League. “I like the organization, I like what they want to do for the future, and I really want to do everything, if I can help.”
From his days on the French junior national team, Jaiteh, who’s preferred nickname is “Mo,” got to know Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot. Jaiteh captained the group back then.
“Having another French guy is very helpful for me,” said Jaiteh, a self-described rebounder, floor-runner, and finisher at the rim. “We’re going to talk a lot in French. I’m going to understand everything. He knows all the plays, he already has one year done. So for me, that’s a perfect situation.”
Jaiteh will wear the No. 14 for the Sixers.
For Korkmaz, Confidence Key
After leaving Istanbul for Philadelphia, and then flying from Philadelphia to Salt Lake City, Furkan Korkmaz now finds himself in Las Vegas. In two appearances in the Utah Jazz Summer League, the 19-year old Turk totaled 13 points on 2 for 12 shooting. Both makes were 3-pointers.
The Sixers expect Korkmaz to become more effective as his comfort increases, which seemed to happen between the first and second games the swingman played in the Utah Jazz Summer League.
“He just got off the plane, what, three days ago? He flew in and jumped into a game,” said Lloyd Pierce. “He’s a shooter, he’s an athlete, he’s a gifted athlete, he’s a skilled basketball player. I think if he just goes out there and plays with confidence, I think he’ll be fine.”
Korkmaz, the 26th pick in last year’s draft, agreed.
“Day-by-day,” he said, “I will be better.”