Davies' summer league goal is to improve offense

ap-sixers-brandon-davies.jpg

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.

Instant Replay: Sixers 113, Bucks 104

Instant Replay: Sixers 113, Bucks 104

BOX SCORE 

The tone was set in the opening minutes of the third quarter. 

The Sixers quickly made up a halftime deficit and rolled from there, outscoring the Bucks, 67-50, in the second half for a 113-104 victory over Milwaukee on Monday.

The Sixers have now won four of their last five games with their only loss in the stretch coming the game Joel Embiid sat out. 

Milwaukee used a 19-4 run to take a 54-44 lead, but the Sixers scored the final basket of the first half and the first eight points of the third quarter to tie the game. 

Embiid scored 12 points in the fourth quarter to finish with 22 points, 12 rebounds and a career-high tying five blocked shots.

Inside the box score
• The Sixers scored 18 of their 24 first-quarter points from the 3-point line, connecting on 6 of 13 attempts from beyond the arc. Philadelphia hit on 14 of 37 three-point attempts, while Milwaukee was just 5 for 14. 

• Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 21 points in the first half, but battled foul trouble after the break and finished with 23 points for the game. He picked up his fourth foul with 6:04 left in the third quarter and was whistled for his fifth foul just 38 seconds into the fourth quarter. 

• Eight Sixers scored in double figures, led by Embiid with 22. Dario Saric added 17, Ersan Ilyasova scored 12, Gerald Henderson and Robert Covington had 11 and Sergio Rodriguez, Jahlil Okafor and Chasson Randle each added 10. 

McConnell MRI negative
The Sixers will be without their starting point guard for the time being, as T.J. McConnell left the team to return to Philadelphia to receive treatment for a right wrist strain and did not play against the Bucks (see story).
 
An MRI taken on McConnell’s right wrist came back negative, according to Sixers coach Brett Brown.
 
“He has a strain,” Brown said. “There’s no structural damage. In relation to what that means with regards to his return to play, I don’t know that yet.”

Sergio Rodriguez started in McConnell’s place and scored 10 points with seven rebounds and six assists. 

Monster jam
Embiid threw down a thunderous dunk to give the Sixers a 77-76 lead with 1:00 left in the third quarter. He then forced a turnover on the other end and later blocked a shot attempt by Matthew Dellavedova at the third-quarter buzzer. 

Noel sits
Sixers center Nerlens Noel was a late scratch from Monday’s game due to a sprained left ankle. 

Up Next
The Sixers will host Toronto (27-13) on Wednesday and Portland (18-25) on Friday at the Wells Fargo Center before traveling to Atlanta to face the Hawks (24-17) on Saturday. 

MRI on T.J. McConnell's wrist comes back negative; Nerlens Noel has ankle sprain

MRI on T.J. McConnell's wrist comes back negative; Nerlens Noel has ankle sprain

The Sixers will be without their starting point guard for the time being, as T.J. McConnell has left the team to return to Philadelphia to receive treatment for a right wrist strain and will miss Monday's game vs. the Bucks in Milwaukee.
 
An MRI taken on McConnell’s right wrist came back negative, according to Sixers coach Brett Brown.
 
“He has a strain,” Brown said. “There’s no structural damage. In relation to what that means with regards to his return to play, I don’t know that yet.”
 
McConnell is averaging 4.8 points and 5.4 assists in 38 games. He has started Philadelphia’s last seven games, a stretch during which the Sixers have gone 5-2.

With McConnell out, Sergio Rodriguez will start at point guard Monday against Milwaukee.

Rodriguez started 29 of the first 30 games he played this season, his first in the NBA since 2009-10. The 30-year-old is more of an offensive threat than the defensive-minded McConnell, averaging 8.8 points and 5.8 assists.  

“You immediately go to losing that defensive energy T.J. is known for,” Brown said. “Sergio is a more gifted scorer. T.J. is a more gifted defender. To have Nerlens (Noel) and Joel (Embiid) behind the scenes, we can make up some ground with Sergio.
 
“People understand Sergio’s pedigree. He’s a 30-year-old legend in Europe. He has a wealth of experience. He’s a medalist and an MVP of the Euro league. He also was our starting point guard for a while. We’re happy to give him back that responsibility.”

No Noel
In addition to McConnell, the Sixers on Monday will also be without the services of Nerlens Noel, who is dealing with a left ankle sprain. Noel came down with a season-high 12 rebounds in Saturday's loss to the Wizards.

Still restricted
Sixers center Joel Embiid will still be on a 28-minute restriction Monday against the Bucks.

Embiid sat out Saturday’s 109-93 loss to Washington after playing 28 minutes in a 102-93 win over Charlotte on Friday. He has reached 30 minutes just once in his 27 games this season.