Support Surrounds Summer Sixers
Since the Sixers touched down in Las Vegas last weekend for the MGM Resorts NBA Summer League, plenty of players who ended the previous season with the team have showed up to be with the club.
Ben Simmons, for one, made appearances at each of the Sixers’ first two games in Vegas.
Justin Anderson, the rising third-year wing man acquired from Dallas at the 2017 trade deadline, attended Saturday’s press conference introducing free agent signings JJ Redick and Amir Johnson, then hung around for the Sixers’ pairing with Golden State later in the evening.
Big men Richaun Holmes and Jahlil Okafor dropped by Thomas & Mack Center Sunday, when the Sixers squared off against San Antonio.
By the looks of it, Nik Stauskas has arrived in Vegas, too, while his pal T.J. McConnell has been with the Sixers since the summer squad started play in Salt Lake City, voluntarily providing an active mentorship role over the past week and a half.
Sixers assistant Lloyd Pierce, coaching the team in Las Vegas, believes the turnout is a telling sign of the current climate surrounding the franchise.
“It’s what we’re building, as an organization, as a team, as a culture,” Pierce said Sunday. “We’re trying to build this where we’re all in it – we’re all in it together, we’re all trying to support one another. Everyone’s development is tied to the same wavelength.”
Joel Embiid, who had plans elsewhere Monday, is expected to link up with the Sixers this week as well.
“They’re all young guys, they enjoy being around each other,” Pierce said of the Sixers, the nucleus for which is made up of mostly 25-year olds and younger. “It’s very similar to a college atmosphere because of their age. It’s great to have our coaches down there, our management down there, and they’re all interacting throughout the game.”
Toughness a Trait Sixers Hope Briscoe Provides
In Sunday’s 101-95 setback to San Antonio, Isaiah Briscoe turned in one of the more productive of his four performances with the Sixers to-date. The undrafted Kentucky product tallied five points, marking the second time he’s scored for the team. He also dished out a summer-high three assists.
With Markelle Fultz sidelined with a lateral ankle sprain, Briscoe could possibly see his involvement increase over the duration of the Sixers’ summer slate.
“Just stay ready – that’s the main thing,” Briscoe said over the weekend, as he discussed his summer league mindset. “Wait until my name gets called, and when it’s called, just show that I belong.”
Briscoe heads into Tuesday’s pairing with Boston averaging 10.6 minutes per game. There’s one specific quality that NBA Summer League coach Lloyd Pierce would like to see the 21-year old display in the instances he’s given run.
“Toughness,” Pierce said. “He’s played at Kentucky, he played with a bunch of pros throughout his time there. I hope he can step on the court, not be intimidated, step right into those minutes and provide some toughness.”
Briscoe was indeed part of an extremely talented batch of prospects to come out of Lexington over the past two years. During this period, his teammates included future draftees Skal Labissiere, Jamal Murray, Tyler Ulis, Bam Adebayo, De’Aaron Fox, and Malik Monk.
Last month, Briscoe was invited to the Sixers’ training complex in Camden for a pre-draft workout.
“He’s a guy that can get into the paint, and create for other guys,” said Pierce. “He’s a guy that can play off the ball and on the ball. Defensively, we need him to be just a pest.”
Off the court, Briscoe seems to have developed a nice, fun rapport with his summer league teammates, including this year’s No. 1 pick.
“It’s been good, great experience,” Briscoe said of his stint with the Sixers, adding that he’s learned a lot from veteran point guard Larry Drew II. “I’m enjoying the process. It’s a long process, but you just got to enjoy it.”
Harrison Quietly Contributing
Very subtly, Aaron Harrison has proven to be one of the steadiest members of the Sixers’ summer league roster. The rising third-year swing man is one of five players on the team to average double-figures while also appearing in at least four games.
Sunday, in the Sixers’ six-point loss to San Antonio, Harrison topped the Sixers in scoring, with 14 points. He also summoned up a strong second-half effort the night before in the club’s come-from-behind victory over Golden State.
“Just trying to be as efficient as possible,” Harrison said, when asked to evaluate his performance with the Sixers.
Efficient he has been. Harrison has posted 10.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 1.8 steals in just 15.9 minutes per game. He’s converted 46.2 percent of his shots, and drilled 4 of 10 3-point tries.
“I know I’m not going to go on any NBA team and get 30 minutes. When I’m out there, I just try to play as hard as I can, be as efficient as I can, and affect the game.”
In respect to his skill development, Harris said he’s focusing this summer on his jump shot, defense, and building strength.
“Just little things that I think that can take me to the next level.”
Each of the past two seasons, Harrison has made it into a handful of NBA games (26 total), all with Charlotte. The Kentucky product was acquired by the Delaware 87ers, the Sixers’ NBA G League affiliate, last February, and finished the campaign with 17.5 points, 4.6 rebounds, and a career-best 73 3-pointers.
Now, Harrison is doing what he can to help the Sixers’ undermanned summer cause.
“We just trying to stick together,” he said. “We’re still getting better as a team. All of us play as hard as we can when we step on the floor. We just fight hard.”