Summer leagues give glance at how some young 76ers might play

Nerlens Noel played in two of the Sixers' six Las Vegas summer league games. TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer
Nerlens Noel played in two of the Sixers' six Las Vegas summer league games. TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer
Posted: July 21, 2014

LAS VEGAS - The 76ers' participation in the Orlando and NBA Summer Leagues has come and gone, and the team won't be seen again until the preseason begins in October.

Summer leagues are basically glorified pickup games, but they do provide a look at draft picks. They enable fans to see what some of the participating veterans have learned and introduce fans to undrafted rookies trying to make NBA rosters.

So here are some things we learned about the 76ers:

Nerlens Noel could become an NBA all-star if he packs on more pounds.

Jordan McRae can score; we knew that. He can add value to a team as a lockdown defender; we didn't know that.

Undrafted free agents Sean Kilpatrick and Ronald Roberts proved they're at least worthy of garnering training-camp invitations.

But perhaps the biggest thing we learned is that the Sixers' draft picks are all long, athletic players who specialize on the defensive side of the court.

For the Sixers, fielding teams in the summer leagues was more than just two weeks of basketball games. And the Sixers accomplished much more than winning the Orlando championship.

"Overall, the effort that we preached in both camps, especially mine, our transition defense, protecting the paint, I think we are getting better at it," said assistant Chad Iske, who coached the NBA Summer League squad in Vegas.

Noel, point guard Casper Ware, and second-round picks K.J. McDaniels and Jerami Grant participated in both summer leagues.

For Noel, the summer leagues were a reality check. The 6-foot-11, 223-pound center showed flashes of stardom. Displaying unique athleticism for a man his size, he was a terror in the open court.

Yet he was overmatched and knocked around in the post. His primary goal before the start of the season is to bulk up.

Meanwhile, McRae impressed the Sixers with his all-around play.

The 6-foot-6 shooting guard/small forward looked like a lottery pick - not someone taken 58th overall at the draft last month. He was the Sixers' best player in Las Vegas, averaging a team-leading 21 points. He was a shutdown defender who finished with a total of seven steals and three blocks in four games.

"Jordan McRae's performance all week has been noteworthy," Iske said. "The stat lines he put up . . . he's been pretty consistent. I think you see a lot of guys who've been able to have one good game, two good games. But he's been able to answer the bell every night and put up good numbers and be effective."

Roberts and Kilpatrick were also effective.

Roberts, a forward out of St. Joseph's, displayed his athleticism and ability to play above the rim in Orlando. The 6-8, 225-pounder dominated 7-foot Thunder center Steven Adams on July 6 with his athleticism and quickness.

Kilpatrick showed he's a clutch player when given the opportunity. The former all-American at Cincinnati averaged 11.5 points in Las Vegas. He finished with 20, 19, and 15 points in three games in which he was given extended minutes.


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