Davies' summer league goal is to improve offense

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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.

Adjusting to new home, Ben Simmons plays role model at Sixers Camp

Adjusting to new home, Ben Simmons plays role model at Sixers Camp

WAYNE, Pa. — Three steps. 

That’s all it takes before Ben Simmons is recognized walking through the streets of Philadelphia. 

This year’s No. 1 pick has been in the spotlight long before the Sixers drafted him in June, and now he's experiencing what it's like to be known as an NBA player in his new city. 

“I’ve been enjoying walking around South Street, getting some Ishkabibble's,” Simmons said Tuesday after a special appearance at the Sixers' Camp at Valley Forge Military Academy. 

At 6-foot-10, Simmons towers above most on the court, let alone on the sidewalk. Fans have been eager to welcome him to Philadelphia for a new chapter of the organization after three years of struggle. 

“Positive things,” Simmons said of the comments he receives. “I think a lot of people are excited, so I’ve been looking forward to it.”

Simmons understands the impact a professional athlete can have on young fans, and was excited to be at camp Tuesday.

Growing up in Australia, he never had the opportunity to hear from NBA players when he attended basketball camps. Now that he's in that position, the 20-year-old was glad to provide that memory to the 240 campers. 

“That would mean a lot if I was able to experience that,” Simmons said. 

Simmons demonstrated skill drills, such as passing fundamentals, interacted in a Q&A session and signed autographs for each camper. He also took individual photos for those who traveled internationally, including from Nigeria, Italy and Greece. 

“I’m just like them, but older,” Simmons said. “I’m just trying to be a good role model to them.”

Simmons plans to spend most of the offseason in Philadelphia as he gets settled into the city. He still has to move into his new home, but at least he knows where to get a cheesesteak in the meantime. 

NBA Notes: Dion Waiters signs 1-year deal with Heat

NBA Notes: Dion Waiters signs 1-year deal with Heat

Two people with knowledge of the situation tell The Associated Press that the Miami Heat have agreed to terms on a one-year deal with free agent guard Dion Waiters.

The two sides came to agreement on Monday. Waiters will make $2.9 million. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because the team has not announced the deal.

Waiters averaged 9.8 points for the Oklahoma City Thunder last year, but had several big games in the playoffs. He played particularly well against Dallas and San Antonio in the playoffs before his role was reduced in the seven-game loss to the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference finals.

Waiters will give the Heat another scorer off the bench (see full story).

Blazers: C.J. McCullom inked to four-year extension
PORTLAND, Ore. -- A person familiar with the deal confirms that guard CJ McCollum has agreed to a four-year, $106 million contract extension with the Portland Trail Blazers.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity on Monday because the deal hadn't been formally announced by the team. It was first reported by Yahoo Sports.

McCollum, who was named the NBA's Most Improved Player, averaged 20.8 points, 3.2 rebounds and 4.3 assists for the Blazers during the regular season. He raised his scoring average by more than 14 points over the previous season.

As the 10th overall pick for the Blazers in the 2013 draft, McCollum bided his time on the bench for his first two seasons. He became a starter in the backcourt with Damian Lillard last season after four of the team's starters departed in the offseason (see full story).

Michael Jordan donates $2 million to ease racial tensions
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Michael Jordan is trying to help ease tension between African-Americans and law enforcement.

The NBA great and Charlotte Hornets owner said Monday he's giving $1 million to the Institute for Community-Police Relations and $1 million to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. The aim is to help build trust following several shootings around the country.

Jordan says in a statement to The Associated Press on Monday that "as a proud American, a father who lost his own dad in a senseless act of violence, and a black man, I have been deeply troubled by the deaths of African-Americans at the hands of law enforcement and angered by the cowardly and hateful targeting and killing of police officers," (see full story).

Sixers officially sign guard Brandon Paul

Sixers officially sign guard Brandon Paul

The Sixers continued to add to their roster Monday, announcing the signing of guard Brandon Paul. 

Paul participated on the Sixers' summer league squad in Las Vegas, where he averaged 10.7 points, 3.2 rebounds and 0.7 assists in 19.5 minutes. He also played for the Hornets in Utah. 

The 25-year-old went undrafted out Illinois in 2013 and has been playing overseas and in the D-League since then. Last season, he led FIATC Joventut (Spain) in scoring with 13.2 points per game. Paul also has been a member of the Canton Charge (D-League) and Nizhny Novgorod (Russia). 

Next season he could play for the Sixers' Development League affiliate, the Delaware 87ers. 

Paul is one of several offseason additions for the Sixers. The team has signed Ben Simmons, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Dario Saric, Jerryd Bayless, Gerald Henderson, Sergio Rodriguez, James Webb III and Shawn Long. The Sixers also have reportedly agreed to a deal with Cat Barber.