Let's take a moment to acknowledge the fact that basketball content consumption is in such high demand that we are breaking down scrimmages as supply. What a time.
On Sunday the Sixers held a Blue v. White scrimmage, that ended in a 124-122 double overtime win for the Blue team. Of course, both teams had players switch sides every quarter but it's important to note some players who stood out in the Palestra, which was jam-packed with Sixer fans. The Team's official Facebook page had the full game replay and there were a few things to take away from watching it, even if it was just a meaningless game.
1. Ben Simmons. The 6-10 point guard
It's not to say that he was bluffing or just pumping up his players, but head coach Brett Brown is really going full bore with Ben Simmons becoming the team's point guard. He is bring the ball up, he is the first person to get the ball when the team takes it out after a made basket, and he is directing traffic. His skill-set has been well documented, a 6-10 player with handles, vision and passing creativity that is rare in a big man. The comparisons to LeBron have always been far-fetched, --not to mention that every incoming talented prospect seems to be "The Next LeBron"-- but Simmons ability to grab the rebound, push up the court and whip a lighting quick pass to an open man in the corner before the help defender cheats over to defend the paint, is very LeBron-esque. The stat sheet, of course, is hard to find in an unofficial game like a scrimmage but this is the best I could find thanks to a poster on Liberty Ballers.
It's missing two shot attempts by my count but Simmons notched 25 points, 12 rebounds and 7 assists, and more importantly, he finished drives with a left-handed layup. You're probably wondering why finishing layups with the left hand is a big deal, well that's because Simmons had a weird habit of switching back to his right hand no matter which side of the basket he was barreling towards, he did it at LSU and in the 2016 summer league. I don't think it was necessarily a hindrance since his athleticism gives him a great advantage in the paint, but this is a great development. Thanks to his incredible first step and his force driving to the basket with size, having the ability to finish with both hands will only open up the offense even more for him, but more importantly, the players around him.
Simmons has been an afterthought for a while now, but viewers are about to get a crash course reminder of what made Simmons a special and unique prospect.
2. Furkan Korkmaz looked good
Korkmaz, the incoming 20-year-old rookie looked really comfortable in the scrimmage. He was hitting spot-up threes, threes in transition, and knocked down floaters off the catch when the ball was kicked out to him. He even found his Anadolu Efes teammate Dario Saric a few times for open three-pointers. Korkmaz has been an interesting prospect for Process deep-divers and he stood out so much that it prompted JJ Redick, who has seen everything in his 10-year career, to say this after the game.
While it is just a scrimmage, I do wonder if Korkmaz could start forming some of the same parallels that we saw from Timothe Luwawu-Cabarott early on in the season. Like Korkmaz now, TLC was expected to spend most of the 2016-17 season developing in the D-league, but he ended up seeing rotation minutes early and started 19 games to boot. If Korkmaz continues to build off of his Euro-basket performance and shows out in the preseason, he could be making a run at some minutes at the backup 2 spot. Nik Stauskus, another player looking to eat minutes at that backup spot, looked pretty bad on Sunday. Again, it's just a scrimmage and this could mean a whole lot of nothing, but Korkmaz nipping on Stuaskus' heels for backup minutes could something to track as preseason starts on Wednesday.
3. Fultz and his new look jumper?
It's very peak basketball internet that something like this has become a bigger deal than what it should be. It was first pointed out by ESPN's Mike Schmitz on Friday splicing a video of Fultz free throw form at training camp side by side with his shooting form at Washington.
You could tell Fultz made some tweaks in his three Summer League games, but since then, it appears he has brought his release even lower than that. On Sunday he displayed that form yet again, but not only on free-throws, but with his jumper and he didn't even attempt a single three-point shot. Is this something to worry about? Fultz did say that he was just experimenting and his form will look a lot more like it did in college once the season starts. Brett Brown, who suggested that this experimenting was something Fultz did all by himself, sounded like he expressed some concern, but then said on Monday that people are making a bigger deal about the topic than what it should be.
Fultz off the dribble jump shot is one of the many things that makes his game special, and I applaud the effort in tweaking his shot to adjust to the NBA. There is a thing called over-correction and overthinking but I wouldn't say this is something to worry about too much. I expect his form to be in between what we saw in Washington and what we saw in Summer League.
The Preseason is upon us.