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.

Report: Nerlens Noel upset with Sixers' situation at center

Report: Nerlens Noel upset with Sixers' situation at center

After being in the middle of trade rumors over the last few months, Nerlens Noel appears to frustrated with his situation with the Sixers, according to the Inquirer's Keith Pompey.

The Sixers have three starting-caliber centers — Noel, Jahlil Okafor and Joel Embiid, who's now healthy — heading into this season.

"I think it's just silly," Noel told Pompey. "With the departure of [former general manager and president] Sam Hinkie, I would have figured that management would be able to set something done this summer.

"Don't get me wrong. We all get along great on the court and off the court. But at the end of the day, it's like having three starting quarterbacks. It doesn't make any sense.

"And it's just not going to work to anybody's advantage having that on the same team. That's how I'm looking at it. I'm not opposed to anything, but things need to be situated."

The Sixers flirted with having two big men on the court at the same time last season, with Noel and Okafor but with no real success. 

He has a point, and the team knows it.

During the summer, reports swirled saying the Sixers were looking to trade either Noel or Okafor for backcourt help.

Noel, who's in the final year of his rookie contract, doesn't appear to believe the current situation will work.

"I think something needs to happen," he said.

Bryan Colangelo: 'Never a period of discomfort' with Sixers' bigs

Bryan Colangelo: 'Never a period of discomfort' with Sixers' bigs

CAMDEN, N.J. — The Sixers on Friday unveiled their brand new, state-of-the-art practice facility in Camden, New Jersey (see story).

Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo, while speaking to media members at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, touched on a variety of topics. That included the team's surplus of big men, an issue that has been years in the making.  

One of the major questions surrounding the Sixers this offseason is how the team plans to utilize all three of its talented young big men in Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor and Joel Embiid. With Embiid finally healthy and on track to play this season, the Sixers have some tough decisions when it comes to balancing playing time as well as maximizing each player's potential.  

There have been rumors throughout the summer that Colangelo has been actively trying to shop either Noel or Okafor because of his discomfort with having three big men on the roster. His comments on Friday cleared up the situation. 

"We're excited for the season. We’re excited to have three, talented young players that can play that position," Colangelo said. "I said something this summer that was somewhat tongue and cheek that was taken so seriously and everybody hung on that one word that I would be uncomfortable going into the season or absolutely uncomfortable, it was literally overstated so many different times. It was never a period of discomfort, in fact, it's actually comfortable knowing we have that much talent there.

"The discomfort comes in trying to manage and maintain the happiness of three talented young players and that’s something that I think will work itself out."

This offseason has been one of transition for the Sixers. The days of "The Process" are long gone, and the Sixers seem poised to finally become a competitive franchise again after years of tanking.

During their summer overhaul, the Sixers brought in nine new players in hopes of forming a roster that features actual NBA-caliber players that could compete on a nightly basis. 

The team now not only features a surplus of bigs, but for the first time in a long time, a healthy balance of talent at each position. 

"The availability of those players is going to be an experiment all season long, not just with the bigs but with this entire team," Colangelo said. "We’ve got a good mix of talent and there's going to be a lot of competition at every position."

Colagelo expressed that under the former regime ran by Sam Hinkie, the Sixers lacked any sort of competitive drive and identity, something that he emphasized greatly when first put in charge. 

"We really have brought some things to this team that I think was sorely lacking," Colangelo said. "One was veteran leadership, whether it's Gerald Henderson, Jerryd Bayless or bringing Elton Brand back. Playmaking ability between Jerryd Bayless, Sergio Rodriquez, Dario Saric coming into the mix, Ben Simmons — these are playmakers as much as they are good basketball players and scorers.

"So we’ve got a good mix of talent, but what we actually have will play itself out on the court in the coming months."