An eleven-hour drive, a couple days of work in Orlando, then another two-hour drive and I arrive at a rented beach house in Emerald Isle, NC for my family’s singular vacation of the year. I’ve come to just simply label it “beach week”.
To start, the environment at this beach house is a lot different than my hotel room in Orlando for the OPSL. For one the television only has five basic news channels. So bye-bye All-Star game, SportsCenter, British Open and any “Fast and Furious” re-runs that may have graced the screen. No need to shed a tear though, I have a bootleg copy of “Fast 6” so we’re all good.
This compared to my setup in Orlando almost makes me miss the Amway Center.
But I digress, the first night at the beach for my family vacation we grill out and are forced to watch one of the many Disney movies my parents continue to bring year after year. I oblige and before I know it, Mark Wahlberg and “Invincible” are on the screen. I confess it was my first time seeing the Philly-centric film.
After a few minutes, I realized it’s actually a good flick. The movie made two solid impressions on me: all athletic scenes look 1000 times better in slow motion and playing with heart still matters in sports. Not just in winning games, but in regards to who should actually be on the roster as well. “Heart and effort supersede athleticism with no drive.”
Do you like it? I just made it up.
Using that premise lets take a look at which players in Orlando should be guaranteed regular season roster spots on the Sixers and who after their performances at the OPSL will fighting to make the roster at training camp.
Michael Carter-Williams – Obviously no surprise, you can’t cut your 1st round lottery pick. Carter-Williams did have a less than stellar debut during the week shooting less than 30% from the field and adding a lot more turnovers than you would like to see. Granted, he didn’t really have help scoring the ball so he did have to take the majority of offensive shots, which is in no way MCW’s game.
There were a list of positives MCW and 76ers fans can look at moving forward. His defense was top notch, locking down the opposing teams point guard and always transitioning steals to immediate fast breaks. Offensively, Carter-Williams strength is clearly his navigation through the lane. Whether he finds an improbable angle to make a floater or looks off a defender to make a nice assist.
OPSL Grade – C…I think although it may have looked ugly this experience will only be good for him in the long run. The part of Carter-Williams game he needs to work on is expanding his offense. The Sixers don’t play another meaningful game for over a year so he will have plenty of chances to do that.
Arnett Moultrie – It was hit or miss for Moultrie at the OPSL. He was invisible in the first game but finished strong averaging 16.5 points and 10.5 rebounds in his last two games. Moultrie’s energy level was the deciding factor of whether or not he had a good performance as evidenced from two games with over ten rebounds and two games with less than five.
This could also be attributed to Moultrie being out of shape. When asked about it, Moultrie said “I’m in good enough condition to compete, but not in good enough shape to dominate on a game to game basis, but by the time the season come around I have no excuses or injuries this time and I have all the time in the world to do what I need to do”. .
OPSL Grade – B…A good overall showing for Moultrie at OPSL. The most improved aspect of his game was clearly his mid range jump shot as it was his go to option on offense. Moultrie still needs to improve his low post play on both shoulders and his overall conditioning to be successful but according to his quote it’s just a matter of time, will see Arnett.
Arsalan Kazemi – The Iranian International is already a coach favorite on the 76ers. Coach Michael Curry said after game 3 of the OPSL, “He’s amazing, just wow, everyone likes him and he plays hard and is always in the right place”. This statement was the consensus opinion of Kazemi’s performance in Orlando. Kazemi helped the 76ers in every intangible category imaginable. In other words, Kazemi lives his life “A quarter mile at a time”.
Grade- A…As soon as Kazemi steps on the court the lineup has a better overall basketball IQ. Kazemi could be a long term staple of the 76ers. The one thing he will be looking to improve on is his mid range jump shot which he plans on doing in the upcoming future.
Who from OPSL will fight to make the roster?
Rodney Williams – Williams quietly had the most consistent summer league outing of anyone on the team. He seemed to score 10-15 points a game and you wouldn’t even notice. Williams is lethal in transition and also adds a defensive stopper to the team. The only problem with Williams is his half court offense. He isn’t a threat to create his own shot and if by some miracle he gets free on his own, the resulting FGA probably isn’t going in.
OPSL Grade – B…Williams has unlimited potential due to his athleticism. He could immediately contribute solid defense and a transition threat to the team, but until he improves his half court offensive game that will be all he contributes to the 76ers.
Khalif Wyatt– Wyatt had the most to prove at OPSL and he didn’t disappoint. Anyone who doubted Wyatt could score at the NBA level was clearly wrong. Wyatt led the Sixers in scoring in Orlando while being by far the most efficient shooter. He also showed he could play a facilitator role with a better assist to turnover ratio and better +/- than Michael Carter-Williams. The only question mark Wyatt had coming in was his defense which looked much improved throughout the week.
OPSL Grade – A…The 76ers roster next year might be one of the worst offensive rosters in the past 20 years. Wyatt is a flat out scorer who controls the tempo of the game and makes the right decisions with the basketball. He could prove an invaluable source of points for the 76ers this year.