Davies' summer league goal is to improve offense


Davies' summer league goal is to improve offense

With 51 NBA games under his belt, Brandon Davies is the wily old veteran in the Sixers’ practice gym at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. After all, Davies has appeared in 51 more NBA games than anyone else wearing the Sixers’ practice jersey.

But that doesn’t mean Davies is taking anything for granted as he prepares to go to Las Vegas with the Sixers’ second summer league squad. There is plenty to learn for the 6-foot-10 forward from Brigham Young, even after a season in the NBA.

“One thing I learned is to be an ‘everything guy’ -- making sure my effort was there every day,” he said. “Whether it was in practice or in a game. I just need to be the guy they can count on in both ends of the floor.”

Defense, however, is where the focus remains. In fact, Davies has been working on his defense ever since the season ended in April. Working out in the gym at PCOM, Davies has been able to test himself against the likes of Nerlens Noel and a few of the other players who work out with the Sixers.

Of course, defense has always been Davies’ calling card. Averaging two steals per 48 minutes in his first NBA season is nothing to sneeze at, especially for a big man.

“That’s what gets you on the floor,” Davies said after Tuesday’s practice session. “There aren’t too many guys who are willing to do it.”

However, shooting the ball is another matter. It’s one thing to stop the opposition from shooting, but when all the opponent has to do is let you shoot it in order to get the ball, it’s an issue.

Davies shot just 42.2 percent last season, with 54 field goals in his 51 games. He also shot just 64.2 percent from the foul line (34 for 53), which doesn’t bode well for a big man.

That’s just part of it, though. Davies went 34 for 59 (57.6 percent) on shots from the rim, and was slightly better than 50 percent on layups (25 for 49). But step away from the bucket and things didn’t go very well for Davies.

On shots longer than three feet, Davies went 20 for 69 (28.9 percent) in 2013-14, including 11 for 29 on shots between three and 10 feet. That means Davies was 9 for 40 on shots longer than 10 feet. With those numbers it’s a wonder Davies took 10 three-pointers.

Nevertheless, with the defensive work, Davies is also working on his shooting. He says he’s expanding his range a bit and working to be more consistent at knocking down open shots.

Assistant coach Chad Iske, who is the Sixers’ head coach for the Las Vegas Summer League, notices Davies putting in the work.

“He’s been great. Ever since he showed up here last year, he’s been one of the hardest workers -- one of the first guys into the gym and one of the last guys to leave,” Iske said. “His effort on the court is contagious, which is one of the things everybody loves about him. He makes others around him play harder with his effort [and] he’s brought all that to the camp and a leadership quality, too.”

But as they say in pro sports, “know thyself.” In that regard, Davies knows he’s in the NBA for his defense.

“For myself and the coaches it’s always about getting better defensively and stronger and faster,” Davies said.

And with a non-guaranteed contract worth $816,482 for next season, Davies could be a bargain as a defensive big man. And if Davies can add some shooting along with the defense, too, even better.

Report: Sixers anthem singer Sevyn had contract barring political statements

Report: Sixers anthem singer Sevyn had contract barring political statements

Sevyn Streeter, the performing artist who claimed Wednesday that the Sixers replaced her for the national anthem because of her intent to wear a jersey with the words "We Matter," signed a contract that prohibited political statements, according to CBS3's Jan Carabeo.

Per the report, Streeter was offered an alternate shirt and told she could wear her own shirt in the stands after the performance.

"I was angry, extremely, extremely angry and disappointed and honestly brought to tears by all of it. It broke my heart," Streeter told The Associated Press. "Honestly, I was very excited about being able to perform the national anthem. I was really looking forward to that."

The Sixers didn't directly confirm or deny the allegation but responded with the following statement:

"The Philadelphia 76ers organization encourages meaningful actions to drive social change. We use our games to bring people together, to build trust and to strengthen our communities. As we move from symbolic gestures to action, we will continue to leverage our platform to positively impact our community."

This statement is consistent with efforts being made throughout the NBA calling for action over gestures, as detailed in a feature in B/R Mag. 

“I’m past the gestures,” Carmelo Anthony told B/R Mag. “I’m past that. It’s all about creating things now and putting things in motion. So, that’s what I’m on. I’m trying to get guys on board with that and help them understand that — enough of the gesturing and talking and all of that stuff — we need to start putting things in place.” 

Despite shooting struggles, Dario Saric impressive in Sixers' regular-season debut

Despite shooting struggles, Dario Saric impressive in Sixers' regular-season debut

After two years filled with will he or won't he speculation over joining the Sixers, this certainly wasn't the effort Dario Saric had envisioned for his NBA regular-season debut. 

"I felt comfortable, but sometimes it's not your day and this was my bad day," said Saric, who scored five points in the Sixers' 103-97 season-opening loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder. "I'll try to watch the video and fix what I can fix and move forward."

The raw numbers look bad. The rookie forward shot 2 of 12 from the field, including 0 of 4 from three-point range. He did notch seven rebounds and two assists, but also contributed two turnovers.

But as you know, numbers don't always tell the story. 

Saric displayed the offensive versatility and headiness on defense that had the Sixers salivating over him for two years while he played for Anadolu Efes in Turkey. He was able to penetrate in the lane several times against the Thunder on Wednesday night and used pump/head fakes to get his defender off balance, but the shots just didn't fall.

"He struggled with his shot," Sixers head coach Bett Brown said. "But just the physical play, some of the intellect of guarding things suddenly that we all might not pay attention to that coaches do. You see him go out of his way to make a rotation, that he just felt the game. I think that some of his pick-and-roll reads on trying to hit cutters, trying to slow up rollers and still go back to shooters like (Ersan) Ilyasova is, stood out to me.

"He's intelligent. He is a smart basketball player. The stats will show that he didn't make some of his shots, but I think that just that gamesmanship, that intellect stands out to me." 

The only time Saric looked a tad overmatched is when OKC went to its mustachioed muscle tandem of Steven Adams and Enes Kanter inside. After the game, Brown lamented leaving Saric in for so long against that pairing, which combined for 33 points and 17 rebounds on the night.

Teammate Jahlil Okafor tried to come to Saric's aid in those moments, but returning from a torn meniscus and on a minutes restriction, his plan wasn't exactly met with enthusiasm by the coaching staff.

"I actually kind of hinted to the coaches that I wanted to play with him (Embiid) because they put Kanter and Adams in," Okafor said. "I was kind of hinting to the coaches that if they want to play big ball we can play big ball with them."

Their response?

"Stay disciplined. Have your lawyer call my lawyer," Okafor said with a laugh. "That's the go-to line."

Even with Saric's few hiccups on defense, Okafor is confident the 22-year-old Croatian will be able to hold his own against NBA players and get the buckets to start dropping on the offensive end.

"I love Dario. It's been a pleasure having him around," Okafor said. "He's such a selfless guy.

"He did struggle a little bit with his shot, but all of the shots that he missed are shots that we know he can make and shots that we've seen him make since he's been here. So we're good. We know what he's going to do."