On a Saturday in early October, the center of the 76ers basketball universe was Wilmington, Delaware. The annual Blue/White Scrimmage took place at the 76ers Fieldhouse, the home of the Delaware Blue Coats. The arena was sold out and featured many events including the Blue Coats House Band powered by the Paul Green Rock Academy and presented by The Painted Lines.
The scrimmage itself was as expected. The pace was furious to begin, and turnovers were plentiful in the first quarter. The game settled a bit in the second quarter, and at the half it was a 1 point game. In the second half the Blue team, comprised of the 76ers’ probable opening night starters, took command. The end result was an 88-66 Sixers win (and loss). Here are some individual quick notes for each player.
Embiid dominated inside defensively early on. His newly improved handles were put on display as well. Offensively, he knocked down some midrange jumpers that were taken in rhythm and had a smooth release on a three that did not fall.
Simmons played fairly late into the game even when it was mostly out of hand. He pushed a pace that has to be seen up close to be understood. At 6’9.5″ (without shoes), he is one of the fastest players in the NBA. He was in good spirits after the game as he and Josh Richardson spoke to the media.
Tobias Harris is listed as a Small Forward but he seems intent to punish smaller players in the post.— J Blevins (@JBlevinsNBA) October 5, 2019
Richardson had some nice finishes inside in the early going and showed good chemistry while running with Simmons. Josh also had the quote of the day in postgame.
“I’m not gonna be Jimmy Redick” Josh Richardson talks about making his own mark on this team versus trying to fill a hole left by Butler and JJ— J Blevins (@JBlevinsNBA) October 5, 2019
Horford was exactly as one might expect in a scrimmage. He was solid, unremarkable, and steady. Horford spoke after the run about just working to learn his teammates and the scheme. It’s very easy to see how each player can fit with a player like Al Horford. Speaking with a security guard and fan before the game, they said simply, “He’s a professional.”
Highsmith took some time to get his opportunity Saturday. For him, Shake Milton, and some others, it had to feel a bit like a home game. Highsmith played quite a few games at the 76ers Fieldhouse this past spring as a key member of the Delaware Blue Coats. Late in the game, Highsmith put a few excellent minutes together on both ends.
Haywood Highsmith draws a foul on a drive and converts both free throws. He then gets a rebound and draws a non shooting foul before dropping a three.— J Blevins (@JBlevinsNBA) October 5, 2019
Highsmith is showing what he can do late in the scrimmage.
Korkmaz has been working late after practices all of training camp. He is clearly making a concerted effort to get stronger physically and be able to play through the increased contact of the NBA. After a good showing at the FIBA World Cup, Korkmaz has come into camp looking slimmer but stronger than he had last spring. A bit of a surprise returnee to the 76ers, Furkan measured in at 6’7″ without shoes. His release on his shot appears quicker, and he played very well in the free flowing scrimmage. He was one of the standout players to be sure.
Pelle went at it against Christ Koumadje late in the action on Saturday. Pelle was able to convert a lob into a dunk out of a pick-and-roll. His elite catch radius on lobs is a calling card offensively for Pelle. On the defensive end, he displayed his signature timing and shot blocking ability, even rejecting the much taller Koumadje in a one-on-one situation.
Neto is in a subtle competition for bench point guard against Trey Burke. On Saturday, you’d have to say Neto was the clear winner. His steady management of the Blue squad led the team to a third quarter blowout. You can start to see that Brett Brown might prefer the steady classic floor general approach of Neto over the more mercurial Burke.
Scott was the marquee veteran of the White team which, for all intents and purposes, was comprised of the second unit. Scott did knock down at least one three from above the break, but his style of play is as the definitive team role player. He is somewhat miscast when considering him a star who is required to carry team on his back.
Ennis was solid, made his presence known but unspectacular on Saturday. As a veteran he looked like he was working on getting into the flow, playing defense, and executing a scheme more than out trying to shine for the crowd’s entertainment.
Smith operated more as a ball handler than most could have reasonably expected last spring. He is still a very young work-in-progress, but his bounce and speed were on display.
Matisse Thybulle was the belle of the ball for sure on Saturday. Playing defense from the baseline, being asked to guard the corner three plus the baseline drives, allows Thybulle to survey the court and play opportunistic defense. When asked about this role defensively, Brett Brown said, “It’s so much more than that…. it’s so much more than that,” while conceding that Matisse was operating in that space.
Thybulle had 5 steals and a block by unofficial count Saturday in the first half alone. Offensively, he was able to knock down a few shots, but ball handling in traffic remains an area for improvement.
White has a furious comeback driven by Shake Milton to take a 37-36 lead at the half.— J Blevins (@JBlevinsNBA) October 5, 2019
Shake had a couple of one on one buckets on Joel Embiid. He added a 3 late in the half.
Matisse Thybulle's defense kept this from being a blowout.
Bolden displayed his calling card. He was athletic and made a couple of shots but got caught defensively on his heels a couple of times. He tends to overplay defensively, which leads to foul problems and reaching. His body has slimmed down, and he looks noticeably quicker, so there is cause for optimism.
Burke, like Neto, was brought into camp to be a bench point guard option for the Sixers. Like Neto, Burke does not fit the mold of long and huge players. But his waterbug style serves as both a test for the 76ers in camp and a potential “horses for courses” matchup option for Brown. On Saturday, the length of the 76ers Blue squad sort of swallowed Burke, who struggled to get much of anything.
Koumadje measured in officially at 7’3.25″ without shoes. He did not enter the scrimmage until the fourth quarter and had his hands full with Norvel Pelle. Koumadje is a huge presence defensively though (literally) and was also able to get a put-back dunk while barely having to leave his feet. I would not be surprised if we see Koumadje again at the 76ers Fieldhouse.
O’Quinn was mobile, heady and passed well to teammates out of the post. Was a nearly seamless fit surprisingly. O’Quinn, 29, shows a remarkable ability to fit within a new team in a typically chaotic environment like an open scrimmage.