Sixers to pack defense for Vegas summer league

Sixers to pack defense for Vegas summer league
July 7, 2014, 8:45 pm
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After playing in 51 games for the Sixers last season, Brandon Davies will play for the franchise's Las Vegas Summer League team. (USA Today Images)

While one group of players wore the Sixers’ gear for the Orlando Pro Summer League, the team has less than a week to prepare for another summer league in Las Vegas.

So what better way to get acquainted with a nearly four-hour practice on Monday at the team’s training gym at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine? With only four holdovers from the group in Orlando -- Nerlens Noel, Jerami Grant, K.J. McDaniels and Arsalan Kazemi -- a fresh group of 12 players will work out with two-a-days for the next three days before traveling to Las Vegas on Friday.

Needless to say, it’s going to be a rush to get the players on the same page before the games begin on Saturday.

“These guys came in hungry,” Sixers Las Vegas summer league head coach Chad Iske said after the long workout session. “I think they saw what has been going on in Orlando and they know what we’re looking for.”

What are the Sixers looking for?

Effort, energy and defense.

Lots of defense.

“We’re taking a defensive mindset with this group,” Iske said. “Transition defense is going to be a big thing for us and our closeouts and containment off the dribble. We’ll have a defensive focus throughout the week.”

Fortunately, Iske will have some familiar faces to lean on. Along with Noel, Grant, McDaniels and Kazemi, second-year center Brandon Davies will play in Las Vegas after appearing in 51 games for the Sixers last season. Adonis Thomas, who played in two games with the Sixers, four with Orlando and 34 games for Springfield in the D-League, also will join the squad after he finishes up playing for Brooklyn in Orlando.

Additionally, several players with local ties were in the gym on Monday with the Sixers. Tyreek Duren from La Salle, former Temple forward Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson, Penn State guard Tim Frazier as well as former Delaware teammates Jamelle Hagins and Devon Saddler will play for the team (see story).

But like the Sixers’ squad playing in Orlando, the group headed for Vegas will be looking to turn some heads for a possible invite to an NBA training camp in October.

“Every time you step on the court you have to prove yourself,” said Frazier, a four-year star with the Nittany Lions. “If you have a name, you still have to go out and perform -- night in and night out.”

Teams will play a minimum of five games in Las Vegas, giving the players plenty of opportunity to draw some notice.

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