We all know after the Finals conclude and the NBA Draft is over, that the summer sports schedule is so thin late night USA Ping Pong competitions on Fox Sports are a revelation. That’s especially true in summer 2013 because the Phillies have been so difficult to watch.
But it’s time to stop complaining as NBA summer league action tips off this coming weekend.
Beginning July 7th, the Southwest Orlando Pro Summer League begins and this year the League has expanded from eight to ten teams. The Sixers will be joined by Houston, Boston, Orlando, Miami, Utah, Oklahoma City, Indiana, Detroit and Brooklyn from the 7th to the 12th at the Amway center. The 76ers first game will be Sunday at 9 am vs. Houston.
This year’s 76ers draft registered a seven on the NBA rebuilding Richter scale. New GM Sam Hinkie made a tremendous splash with his first move by trading away All-Star guard Jrue Holiday for Kentucky center Nerlens Noel.
With a brand new roster that still has that new car smell, there is a lot to evaluate during this year’s OPSL. Headlining the roster is Holiday’s replacement, Syracuse guard Michael-Carter Williams and the 54th pick, Oregon’s Arsalan Kazemi. Given the Sixers thin frontcourt, Kazemi has the potential to be an immediate impact player on this team. Noel, the new franchise centerpiece will not be able to play because of his knee injury, so there will be plenty of tick for Micheal Eric and Zeke Marshall, the two centers prospects on the Sixers summer league roster.
After the jump, a look at the names and bios of the players on this year’s summer league roster…
Michael-Carter Williams (#1 — PG, Syracuse) – The former Orange standout has some big shoes to fill with the 76ers replacing Jrue Holiday. His 6’6 height and wingspan to go with it resembles a Magic Johnson build. Williams has the athleticism and the court vision to play in this league but his jump shot will be pivotal in determining his overall success.
D.J. Cooper (#0 — PG, Ohio) – The past Ohio Bobcats superstar has earned a spot on the summer league roster and will be looking to solidify a roster spot this fall. Cooper is a bit undersized at six foot 176 pounds but don’t let that fool you. In his 2012-2013 season with Ohio, Cooper averaged 14.1PPG, 7.1 assists, 3.2 rebounds and two steals a game. An impressive resume will make for an interesting litmus test for Cooper.
Micheal Eric (#51 — C; Canton Charge D-league) – Eric was signed and later waived by the Cavaliers last season and has yet to play an NBA game. The Nigerian player averaged pretty much a double double in his last season for Temple. While playing for the Canton Charge last year in the D-League playoffs Eric averaged 17 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. With Andrew Bynum seemingly on his way out, Eric has a real chance to make the roster pending a good performance in Orlando.
Justin Holiday (#8 — SG; Washington) – The only Holiday left on the 76er’s roster will be making his second straight trip to Orlando. Last year, Holiday averaged 4.7 points, 1.6 rebounds and 1.7 assists in limited minutes with the team during the regular season. Holiday plays a defensive role on this team but will need to show an improvement on the offensive end in order to earn more playing time.
Arsalan Kazemi (#14 — PF; Oregon) – Perhaps one of the steals of the draft was when Philly acquired the Wizards 54th pick. Kazemi is an Iranian international who has only seen success during his career in the states. As a freshmen at Rice Kazemi averaged 10.3 points and 9.1 rebounds. He followed that up by being named to the Conference USA first team his sophomore year. Kazemi transferred to Oregon his senior year and averaged 9 points and 9.9 rebounds as he led the ducks to the sweet 16. In short, Kazemi has been a rebounding machine and only at 6’7 his game is similar to that of a Paul Millsap. If Kazemi can continue to grab boards and gain a little weight he could easily transition his game to the NBA and become an impact player.
Travis Leslie (#20 — SG; Santa Cruz Warriors D-League) – Leslie is ready to give it another go at making an NBA roster after performing well in the D-League this year. In the regular season for the Santa Cruz Warriors Leslie average 15.4 points, 1.7 steals, 6.9 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game. Leslie’s strength is his athletic talent, trust me check out his Youtube highlights. If Leslie is going to make a roster this year, he has to prove his game has become more well rounded. The first step in showing that starts in Orlando.
Zeke Marshall (#44 — C; Akron) – The recruiting pride of the MAC Conference Marshall was a top 40 prospect coming out of high school. Standing seven feet tall with a 7’5 wingspan it’s not hard to see why. In his last season at Akron, Marshall tallied 13 points and 7 rebounds a game. His most impressive stat however was a staggering 3.7 blocks per game. The scouting report on Marshall is that he is still raw skill wise and doesn’t show a lot of footwork. This might explain his low rebounding statistics in proportion to his size. If he can protect the paint in summer league however there is a lot to be said for that and Marshall could have a shot at making the fall playing time.
Trevor Mbakwe (#35 — PF, Minnesota) – Mbakwe may have been a first round pick had it not been for his ACL tear two years ago. None the less it made teams skeptical and Mbakwe has joined the roster as an undrafted free agent. Comparing himself to Kenneth Faried, Mbakwe stands 6’8 with a 7’4 wingspan. In Mbakwe’s season following his injury he averaged 10 points and 8.7 rebounds as a Golden Gopher. The key to Mbakwe making an impact will be if he can defend the power forward position.
Brock Motum (#25 — PF; Washington St.) – This Australian power forward is offensively talented and could make an impact with his scoring in Orlando. Last year for Washington State Motum averaged 18.7 points a game and shoots the three ball well for a big man. Combine that with a 75% free throw percentage and you have an efficient player. If Motum can defend he should be able to stay on the court and be a valuable source of points for the 76er’s in the summer league.
Arnett Moultrie (#5 — PF, 76ers) – A strong end to an inconsistent and average season (Thank you Doug Collins.) for the 76ers Moultrie will look to continue that momentum in his second straight trip to the Orlando summer league. The former first round pick hasn’t warranted much praise in his career thus far averaging just about 3 points and 3 rebounds in 46 games for the 76. If he wants his future to be in Philadelphia Moultrie must show production and the time is now.
James Southerland (#43 — SF; Syracuse) – Being the only player over 6’4 that can shoot threes on this roster will get him playing time. Southerland was a 40% three point shooter in college and could really spread out the floor for the 76ers. He averaged 13 points, 5 rebounds and 1.5 steals in his final season at Syracuse. At 6’8 with a 7’1 wingspan Southerland could cause some match up problems for opposing teams as well. Look for Southerland to get a lot of playing time in Orlando.
Rodney Williams (#31 — SG; Minnesota) – The 2nd undrafted Golden Gopher on this roster is an athletic gem and a great transition player averaging 10 points and 5 rebounds last year. Williams actually grew two inches from 6’5 to 6’7 last year so he is still acclimating to his body. He has a very unrefined game and shot an abysmal 20% from 3-point range his senior year. No one doubts William’s athleticism but he has to become a much more efficient offensive player in half court sets. If he can defend to his capability Williams could be a worse shooting version of Tony Allen as he is set to play shooting guard in Orlando.
Khaliff Wyatt (#4 — SG; Temple) – Easily the best flat out scorer on the roster Wyatt plays an old mans game that is hard to not root for. Wyatt averaged 20.5 points and 4 assists per game while shooting 83 percent from the free throw line in his last season at Temple. He also earned a good portion of his points from free throws being the most fouled player in the NCAA last year. With a high basketball IQ and a slow tempo style, Wyatt will keep games under control and produce the best shot when handling the ball. He could be leaned upon heavily for scoring if other players don’t step up in Orlando.
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