The Sixers kicked off the summer league on a high note beating the Milwaukee Bucks by a final score of 107-106. Although the team blew a big lead late they were still able to hold on to the victory. As a whole, the team played great on both ends of the court and provided a lot of good highlight plays to give the fans a show.
Milton looked great in the start of his second summer league. There were a lot of eyes on him to see if he can be a facilitator and possibly be the backup point guard for this upcoming season. He put on a performance to show why the Sixers game him an NBA contract this season. From the start of the game, Milton came out with the intent of getting the players around him going. Whether it was in the pick and roll or throwing up lobs to Zhaire Smith and Norvel Pelle, Milton showed he can run an offense. He had some struggles from the field but still was able to set his teammates up and also get some good looks for himself. This was a great audition for the backup point guard spot.
Today was the first time we got to see the 20th pick in action in a Sixers uniform and he did not disappoint. Thybulle came out and showed his defensive skills that were the biggest part of his college game. Although some speculated that he was highlighted in a zone defense, today showed that in any kind of defensive scheme that Thybulle is a stud. He racked up a couple of steals and was all over the floor showcasing his good hands and defensive instincts. In the Bucks first trip down the court, Thybulle switched on defense to contest a three-pointer that ended up missing and the Sixers would end up scoring in transition. He had a couple of sloppy turnovers on offense, but showed he could stretch the floor by knocking down a three-pointer of his own. All in all he had a good game and looks like he will be able to come in and produce for the Sixers off the bench as a three-and-D guy.
After all the things that Zhaire Smith went through last season on his journey back to the basketball court, it was good to see Smith fully healthy and looking good. Smith came out and immediately showcased his top-level athleticism. From the beginning of the game, he was throwing down lobs left and right. Smith also looked good on the defensive end of the ball chasing defenders and switching all game. The Sixers have always needed a guard that could come out and defend other guards and Zhaire Smith is looking like that athletic guard that will be able to be a proven defender and also score on offense.
I liked what I saw from the big man in the game. One downside was that he racked up nine personal fouls in 22 minutes of action, but otherwise he played well. He was aggressive on the boards and played above the rim on offense, which was fun and exciting to see. Pelle also racked up a handful of blocks, showing that he can be a rim protecting center. The biggest bright spot that I saw from Pelle today is the energy and emotion that he brought with him on the court. Teams need a guy like that who is going to come off the bench and keep the team fired up on the floor. Although he is going to need to work on staying out of foul trouble, I am excited to see what Pelle is going to bring to the Sixers on a two-way contract this upcoming season.
Shayok was probably the biggest surprise for the Sixers today. He came out and showcased his offensive talents. In 21 minutes of action, Shayok scored 19 points and went 7-13 from the floor, included going 3-6 from beyond the arc. The Sixers bench is going to need shooting, and Shayok showed he could be an option that they could go to. He hit spot-up shots and also showed he could shoot off of the dribble, which was great to see. His offensive aggressiveness was great to see and will hopefully continue throughout the rest of the summer league. Along with his offensive game, he also played well on defense, showing he can move and stay in front of players. If he can keep this kind of play up throughout the rest of the summer league I would be very shocked if the Sixers do not use their second two-way contract on him, or potentially give him a spot at the end of the roster.
Shake Milton: B+
Zhaire Smith: A
Matisse Thybulle: B+
Norvel Pelle: B
Marial Shayok: B