12 New Sixers Fines... Sort Of
The Opening Tip
Hello & Happy Almost Weekend - It's the Corner Three!
Oh Yeah, The Sixers
In the spirit of a certain loser free point guard who got fined by the league for calling his current boss and ex-bff a liar, here's who I would fine and/or seek prison time for:
CITY OF TORONTO
CITY OF BOSTON
CITY OF ATLANTA
Inspired by what has become a yearly conversation/admonishment by Spike and Mike whenever the Embiid - Era Sixers try to operate like a flip the Switch team when they actually are not and never ever will be, this week's top 10 is dedicated to some of my most memorable and actual Flip the Switch teams
10. 2018 Warriors
09. 2009 UNC Basketball
08. 2008 Florida Football
07. 2001 Sixers
06. 2016 Nova Basketball
05. 2008 Phillies
04. 2001 Miami Football
03. 2004 USC Football
02. 2017 Eagles
01. 1996 Bulls
Mike's Corner... Actual Basketball?
Every week Spike or Mike will give you something that's on their mind. It's Spike's week, and he's talking about Sixers playing in the Rico Hines league.
We have so little! A sentiment that is undoubtedly false (6 straight playoff appearances, the reigning MVP, a relatively storied franchise and a top 10-12 desirable location), but also even more undoubtedly true (fucking look around). So when there's a pre-preseason untelevised scrimmage out west that they're not even keeping regulation score, we're rolling with it baby!
There'd been offhand reports about the Somewhat Sixers dominance in the Rico Hines UCLA summer runs, but this week we got some actual video. Nice of the new Sixers assistant coach to leak the tapes. Reportedly, it was Terquavion Smith, Jaden Springer, DeAnthony Melton, Ricky Council, and Bball Paul. A team after my heart. And they balled out! All five of them! Against real players -- Jalen Green, Pascal Siakam, Harrison Barnes, Kevon Looney, etc. And the Sixers squad more than held up.
I'll direct you to this Liberty Ballers piece for clips. But I'll highlight two particular plays in there that are evidence of growth and replicable in-season.
1) Jaden Springer gets downhill on Raptors rookie Gradey Dick -- Siakam yelling "send him here!" as in "make him go left" -- so Jaden gets him to bite left and blows past him right. That forces the big to rotate over, which is exactly what Springer wants, baiting him into jumping to block a floater he hasn't even gone up for yet, so he can shuffle it to a rolling Bball Paul. Gradey switches quickly, but Bball has faster reaction time to read the situation, takes one dribble around him, and goes up for a 2-handed dunk. I love this play. The easiest thing in basketball is an open shot. It's why I hated how much they overhelped last season, you're just handing them the easiest thing in the game. Drive, draw the defense, find the open man -- been around since Hubie Brown was a young man in 1898. So when Springer, who's struggled with his ballhandling since leaving Knoxville, can blow by a lottery pick, force the defense to recover, and make the right pass to his big for a dunk? That's a good sign. I'm in August heaven.
2) Speaking of Bball! I will never stop thinking of Live Ricky 5, when I told him how much I hated when they were going at him in isolation and his teammates would leave their man to help. "Send no one." "That's what I'm saying in my head." The best. Here's a situation where he's isolated against Siakam. Doc Rivers nowhere to be found. Pascal drives right, Bball slides his feet, there's no advantage gained, and Siakam kicks it out to Mouhamed Gueye (who I like) on the perimeter. Melton still has some of that Doc stink on him (and he also thinks he's quick & long enough to recover on anything, and he's not terribly wrong), so he's pinching in at the low block to help deter a Siakam layup. But then he has to close out on Gueye, who attacks the closeout. But Bball has rotated to block his path. Melton recovers to get a hand on the drive, forces an awkward gather. Then Gueye spins for a baseline hook, and Bball Paul is right there to swallow it up. The play ends with Terq speeding upcourt for a very sick contested layup. Love this for Bball Paul -- standing his ground in isolation without any help. Rotating to protect the rim. And a block leads to a runout for easy offense. That's what it's all about, brother.
Psychotically, I watched Rico Hines give a post-scrimmage pep talk to the guys, the gist of it being - yeah Jalen Green & Pascal Siakam can do pretty much whatever they want with the ball in their hands at the NBA level, but most of the guys here are going to be complimentary players in this league, and you're gonna have to find a way to contribute. I love that shit! Ask Melton about that. Ask Springer who was an excellent freshman at Tennessee, got drafted in the first round, and has barely sniffed an NBA court for two years because he had not yet acquired the complimentary skills to play alongside better players who command the ball. He also said "some of you guys can't shoot for shit." Which I also love, and know to be true.
I love complimentary players. Stars are stars, I can't relate to how good they are and a lot of times I don't like their shot selection. But being a role player who can defend your position, make shots off the catch, screen & roll, see an opportune cut, demonstrate a knack for getting 50/50 balls, then mayyyybe occasionally attack a closeout and make a play, mayyyyybe run a fast break -- that's what 95% of the league is gonna be doing. That's what Melton got elite at. That's what Springer's gotta be doing. That's how Bball Paul became the best backup of Joel's career. Ricky's got a ways to go. Terq I have higher hopes for, I think the ceiling's pretty up there. But he's gotta learn to be able to do all that other stuff, and more importantly accept the role of doing that other stuff, in order to see NBA playing time.
I'm not in on the Sixers generally, but I'm in on most of these guys. And in August, while we're still not allowed to look at the roster for another week, I'm taking what I can get.
Connor Barwin's Make The World Better Foundation's annual concert is Saturday. As always, there is a VIP Pre-Show Tailgate. A ticket gets you food, booze, and a live Carl Landry Record Club. The event is across from the Dell from 4:30 till 6:30. Get tickets here!
Peace, Love and Process Be Cool, Go for a walk around the city