Sixers summer league

3 observations after Sixers notch first summer win of 2023 

The team improved to 1-1 in Salt Lake City.

Jaden Springer, Colby Ross
Getty Images

The Sixers came back Wednesday night to earn their first victory of the summer.

With a 104-94 win over the Jazz, the Sixers improved to 1-1 in the Salt Lake City summer league.

Javonte Smart had 19 points on 7-for-10 shooting, six rebounds, three assists and two steals. 

Jaden Springer recorded 18 points, six steals and three assists.

The Sixers’ third and final game in Utah will be Thursday at 7 p.m. ET against the Thunder. They’ll begin play in Las Vegas on Saturday.

Here are observations on their win over the Jazz:

Entertaining two-way duo 

The Sixers began slowly for a second straight game, falling behind 11-2 and trailing 34-20 after the opening quarter. 

Smart was a bright spot with a couple of driving layups. Ricky Council IV’s strength popped early on, too. Council likes using his body to create advantages and does so effectively; he’s not just bulling into the lane without any plans or control. 

Fellow rookie two-way contract player Terquavion Smith let Council’s hops shine in the second quarter, setting him up for an alley-oop dunk. Council added another slam in the third. 

About a minute after his alley-oop, Council skied for a block. His athleticism is a massive asset on both ends of the floor. 

Smith had a slow shooting start that included a couple of very wayward misses. There’s nothing wrong with the NC State product’s immense self-confidence, and it should serve him well in the G League. Still, shot selection looks like a worthwhile area to sharpen. If Smith can gain a slightly better sense for where his best spots are and trim the rushed decisions, we imagine it would help his chances of sticking in the NBA.

A valid counter to the point above is that perhaps Smith should never deviate from his aggressive instincts. He found a groove late in the second quarter Wednesday, hitting two threes and a layup, and ended with 14 points and five assists in 24 minutes.

Springer’s free throws 

From the field, Springer had a nearly identical game to the Sixers’ opener.

After a 3-for-11 evening Monday, he shot 4 for 12 against Utah (and hit 1 of 3 three-point tries). 

Obviously, those numbers aren’t a plus. Springer’s work at the foul line has been excellent, though; he’s 14 of 16 so far. Compared to last summer, his free throws have been markedly simpler and smoother. While it seems improbable that Springer will ever be a high-volume foul shooter in the NBA, that’s absolutely a significant development in terms of his shooting form yielding more consistent results. Springer raised his free throw percentage in the G League regular season from 65.1 as a rookie to 77.5 last year. 

Though Springer was again not especially crafty as a finisher, it’s positive that he attacked the rim, got himself to the line, and was nearly perfect there. 

Quick hitters 

Rookie Azuolas Tubelis made his summer league debut and was not a central figure. In his 13 minutes, he had two points, four rebounds and two assists. 

Filip Petrusev remained the Sixers’ top big man and chipped in 10 points and eight rebounds. 

Smart looked good throughout the night. While that’s somewhat expected for a 24-year-old who’s been a two-way player with the Heat and Bucks, credit to Smart for two nice performances. 

D.J. Steward followed up a 15-point showing Monday by posting 15 more on 5-for-12 shooting. The 6-foot-1 guard played last season under Bobby Jackson, whose Stockton Kings team had the G League’s best record. Jackson is now a Sixers assistant coach.

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