I enjoy NBA summer league basketball immensely. I like basketball, of course, and will watch it when I get the chance to. But there’s more: Where else can you see young NBA talent and young, not-quite-NBA talent play in a gym that would be too small to hold Holy Family’s basketball camp? At the end of the Orlando Summer League, the top two teams even play in what might as well be a camp championship!
With the Sixers drafting two top players this year who won’t get on the court for a year or two, the summer league becomes a little more fun. How much different will the summer league team be than the regular season squad? You might be seeing swaths of the actual team already! Plus, this year, Sixers fans get to see Nerlens Noel — a player the team took in 2013 who didn’t suit up all last season.
Noel finally saw some game action on Saturday, and acquitted himself quite well in the opener: Though he only grabbed two rebounds, Noel had 19 points, 4 steals, 4 assists and a block in 26 minutes in the first game, a loss to Orlando.
But it wasn’t just Noel’s statistics. The 2013 No. 6 overall pick’s first play in the summer league was literally, a baseline jam.
Even more impressive was this and-1 drive to the lane, where it first looked like Noel would have to settle for two free throws.
He also had this awesome block.
And this breakaway dunk!
Unfortunately, that breakaway dunk came on the same play that Pierre Jackson ruptured his Achilles. These are the Sixers, and good news always has a silver lining.
Because he’ll also play in the Las Vegas Summer League later in the summer, he was given the day off yesterday (the Sixers topped Oklahoma City 84-73). But Sunday’s game did have one great moment on the court: This impressive box-out from Talib Zanna, who played in college at Pittsburgh.
Sign that guy up! If you can box out a guy all the way into the base of the basketball hoop, you deserve a roster spot.
The best action of the weekend may have been off the court, however, as Sixers coach Brett Brown made funny faces on the bench behind Nerlens Noel (courtesy of Kevin Smick on Twitter):
But my personal favorite part of the weekend was the Sixers’ new pitch for 2014-15 season tickets. Though Nerlens Noel will play this season, the Sixers’ top two draft picks won’t. The team may not have anyone who can actually shoot again. So this is the pitch to fans.
Yes, the official Sixers’ season ticket pitch includes this shot.
It’s going to be a long season. A fun one, hopefully, but a long one.