The Orlando summer league, which is basketball’s version of Spring Training, is over and so is the Philadelphia 76ers‘ first chance to look at undrafted free agents, journeymen, rookies and other players who made up their 2012 summer league roster.
Doug Collins has a veteran-laden team, with free agency taking up a lot of opportunities that would have otherwise been for the young guys. The team recently signed long-time players Royal Ivey and Kwame Brown to add depth at point guard and center.
The 76ers are in a re-building phase, and I hope they know that. While their free agent signings, mostly two-year deals for veterans, point in the direction of another hopeless playoff run, I’m hoping coach Doug Collins sees that it will take a year full of learning curves and disaster to develop his young core led by Jrue Holiday.
Who joins that young core will be decided in a month or so, and here are my odds for each key 76ers summer league participant.
Current Roster Locks
The following players are roster locks but did not participate heavily in the Orlando Summer League, except for Andre Iguodala who could be traded between now and the start of the regular season.
As you might have noticed, 11 of the 15 roster spots are already taken up barring an unforseen trade, which means that the following summer league players will all be fighting for four spots on the 76ers’ opening day roster.
Clay Tucker, G: 80-1
Clay Tucker was a long shot coming into the Orlando Summer League season. He’s 32 and still hasn’t played a single game in the NBA, even though he’s made two other Summer League rosters and played overseas for nine years.
With a very unremarkable performance in Orlando where his scoring was overshadowed by inefficiency, his chances of making the final roster are slimmer than Charlotte’s chances of winning the NBA title.
Terrence Jennings, F: 75-1
Jennings entered Orlando as the third or fourth best big man fighting for one or two spot, and his extremely poor showings in terms of both scoring and rebounding leave him on the outside looking in.
The only thing he really has going for him is a decent collegiate career at Louisville, but he’ll likely only make the roster in the case of serious injuries along the front line.
Chris Johnson, SF: 60-1
Johnson has never wowed anybody with his athleticism, strength or skills, but he’s always been an all-around solid player who would fill the NBA role of “organizational depth” nicely.
Unfortunately for him he came to a team that has a lot of returning or signed vets, otherwise his consistency and polish in the summer league—7.3 points and 6 rebounds per game—would make him a candidate to be on the two-man inactive roster (14th and 15th).
Now, however, he’ll likely have to look for work once training camp rolls around.
Solomon Jones, PF/C: 48-1
Solomon Jones is another player who had a nice summer league, averaging 7.4 points and 5.4 rebounds per game in five contests. His seven years of NBA experience make him a better roster candidate then the other younger forwards I mentioned.
On the flip side, he’s 28 and has hit his ceiling. He’ll probably earn a training camp invite, but unless the Sixers see something they love he’s still a long shot to be employed by the start of the regular season.
Zack Rosen, PG: 40-1
And apparently the Sixers—who included him on their summer league roster—were fond of him as well. A lot of things seemed to be going right for a player who never had much of a team around him, which led to a four-year stretch devoid of success.
Then came the actual gameplay. Rosen couldn’t have disappointed more, averaging only 3 points and 3.3 assists per game while shooting less than 25% from the field and failing to run the point skillfully. He looked a little shell-shocked by the NBA competition, and those struggles pushed him down the guard ladder which was already loaded to begin with.
With a little bit of coaching and experience, Rosen could be a nice backup point guard. But with Royal Ivey already on the roster, the Sixers are clearly looking for more than that from a young guard.
Jon Scheyer, SG: 30-1
Jon Scheyer was once one of the most heralded collegiate players in the country, scoring at will and leading Duke to its first championship in a healthy amount of time. But like his two championship teammates, Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler, he hasn’t found much success at the American professional level.
But like both of them, he’s been given another chance this year. The Sixers need someone who can score and play physical defense, and Scheyer showed he can still do that with a decent summer league showing.
He hit some big threes and shot over 41% from the field, and while he isn’t necessarily a favorite to be the team’s sixth guard (and second one taken from this list), it wouldn’t surprise me to see him still in a 76ers uniform by the end of the preseason..
Devin Searcy, PF/C: 21-1
Searcy showed a lot in his summer league appearances, ranking 3rd in the Orlando league in terms of rebounding (7.6 per game) while adding over seven points and nearly a block per contest as well.
He warranted a long, hard look from the coaching staff by averaging a double-double while in Japan last season, and even if the team isn’t impressed by his 53.6 shooting percentage—which they should be—they’ll be impressed by his rebounding efficiency.
Searcy could be another victim of a veteran-laden team here in Philadelphia, but he’ll definitely be around during the preseason to remind Rod Thorn why he deserves a spot on the team. He’s not a lock by any means, but isn’t necessarily a long shot either.
Jacob Pullen, G: 15-1
Pullen’s youth could be his undoing, seeing as I don’t know what else could. He was terrific in three games, leading the team with 13.7 points and tying Zack Rosen for the lead in assists with 3.3. He was counted on nightly for his scoring prowess, something that’s carried over from his college days at Kansas State.
Jacob will be fighting with the next guy on this list, Xavier Silas, for a spot as one of the last guards to make the roster. Silas already spent a year on the team’s roster, but if he isn’t completely healthy on Day 1 of the preseason, a door could definitely open for Pullen.
I see a lot of scenarios where Pullen is the odd man out, but there are plenty of ones where he’s on the outside looking in as well.
Xavier Silas, G: 10-1
The aforementioned Silas is the only one on this list besides Nik Vucevic—a center—who’s actually played in an NBA game with the Sixers. In two games, the 6’5″ guard scored 11 points, grabbed four rebounds and dished out three assists.
A head injury in the last game of summer league could be an obstacle that Silas has to overcome. He wasn’t lighting things up before it, but he was playing well enough to make the battle between him and Pullen a very interesting one down the stretch.
His relationship with the Sixers coaching staff, which has already been established after last year’s ten-day contract, could be the difference. I’d take Pullen based on scoring potential and talent, but the 76ers front office might not. That makes Silas’ situation one that is pretty close to a toss-up.
Justin Holiday, G/F: 6-1
One of the more underrated players on this list, Justin Holiday—the brother of Sixers point guard Jrue Holiday—impressed many during the summer league, and will likely be a strong candidate to make the Sixers’ roster.
The shooting guard/small forward averaged 11.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 0.8 blocks per game. He showed an ability to take over the game in the 79-71 victory over Brooklyn, scoring 18 points when Arnett Moultrie and Moe Harkless were out with injuries.
Even though the Sixers already have five players who can play the small forward position, those players’ versatility coupled with Holiday’s versatility will give the front office the incentive they need to keep him around. Expect—but don’t guarantee—Holiday to make the roster and even challenge another veteran for the final active roster spot.
Nikola Vucevic, C: 3-2
Nikola Vucevic was barely better than mediocre in his rookie season, partly due to a lack of playing time and partly due to injuries. He wasn’t ghastly on offense, shooting well from beyond the arc and hitting mid-range jumpers, but his defense left much to be desired. In 51 games, he averaged 5.5 points and 4.9 rebounds per game.
His ability to rebound the ball in the pros coupled with his scoring essentially guarantees him a spot on the roster, but after missing the summer league he’ll have a lot to prove in training camp and the preseason. He isn’t a lock, but pretty darn close.
Fans, however, better he can improve during the regular season, make an impact and steal time away from projected starter Kwame Brown.
Moe Harkless, SF: Even Money
Moe Harkless isn’t a lock yet, but for a different reason then Vucevic.
Harkless was the No. 15 overall pick for a reason: He’s Philadelphia’s small forward of the future. But as been brought up many times, the small forward position is crowded; the Sixers wouldn’t mind keeping Justin Holiday just to give him limited playing time, but stunting the growth of Harkless by having him warm the bench would be foolish.
If the Sixers trade Iguodala for a player that doesn’t play SF, Harkless will be on the active roster and probably get 20 minutes a game as he shares time with Dorell Wright.
If Iguodala is still on the team at preseason’s end, things get a little murkier. Either they bench Harkless, play Harkless in favor of Wright as the backup or they send Harkless to the D-League. Two out of three see him making the roster, but there is enough doubt to leave him off as a lock for now.