Philadelphia 76ers vs Orlando Magic: Recap & Analysis
Monday night, the Philadelphia 76ers played their final game at the Wells Fargo Center before the home opener on October 18th. The Sixers defeated the Orlando Magic 120-114, in a game which wasn't very close until the team's deep bench played the entire 4th quarter. For a second straight game, Markelle Fultz started along Ben Simmons in the backcourt with JJ Reddick coming off the bench. A starting lineup with Fultz instead of Reddick has the potential to be one of the best defensive units in the league given the switching ability of the personnel. With Jerryd Bayless and Wilson Chandler out a couple weeks with injuries, Brett Brown will have to carefully manage the rotation and see who in the deep end of the rotation steps up before the regular season tips off.
Markelle Fultz didn't attempt one three against the Magic. HE ATTEMPTED THREE! I am not counting the last second heave of the first half. Compared to the first preseason game against Melbourne United, Fultz showed no hesitancy pulling the trigger from deep. He operated well out of the pick and roll, hitting a few mid-range pull-ups off a screen. Fultz's ability to get in the lane will be vital for the Sixers this season, as will his ability to make split-second decisions on whether to shoot his shots or kick out to shooters. Fultz's effort on the defensive end has been promising, showing an ability to stay in front of opposing players and an uncanny ability to make up ground with emphatic blocks:
Fans should be encouraged by Fultz's mindset versus the Magic and expect the young guard's confidence to see continued growth as the season progresses. Trust The Process.
Joel Embiid vs Mo Bamba
The Orlando Magic selected Texas center Mo Bamba with the 6th overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. Bamba, along with Embiid and Fultz, trained with Drew Hanlen in California this summer. Pure Sweat (Hanlen's training/skills company) posted a number of videos this summer showing Embiid and Bamba trash talking each other in pickup games. Let's just say the trash talk didn't stop there:
Embiid scored 21 points, while shooting a ridiculous 9-10 inside the three point arc. Bamba himself had a solid debut, scoring 12 points while knocking down a couple shots from long range. The two 7-footers are the blueprint for how NBA big men are expected to play in today's NBA, protecting the rim while being able to stretch the floor on offense. We'll be seeing plenty of trash talk for years to come.
The rookie out of Wichita State entered the game in the 1st quarter vs Orlando, compared to waiting until the 4th in Friday's matchup against Melbourne. Shamet has shown to be a smart, instinctive player in the first couple preseason contests. When playing without the ball, Shamet knows how to use leverage to create space receiving hand-offs in Brown's system. He's a great shooter spotting up (43% 3-pt in college) and off one-dribble pull ups, a skill often utilized in Brown's pace and space offense. Coming out of Wichita State, Shamet's defensive impact was criticized. While having average height (6'4"), Shamet's frame (180lbs) and lack of elite athleticism caused scouts to wonder whether he could guard at the NBA level without fouling. I've been encouraged by his effort and toughness on that end of the court, although I expect the fouling concerns to materialize once the regular season begins. Shamet has the opportunity to earn minutes when the regular season tips off against Boston, especially with the absence of Jerryd Bayless and Wilson Chandler. After the draft in June, I don't think many people would've thought Shamet would be competing for meaningful playing time come the regular season.
Next Game: 10/5 in China vs Dallas Mavericks