There are ten teams competing in Orlando Summer League this season with a variety of different kinds of players. As teams are filled with veterans, young prospects, and out-and-out rookies, Summer League is a time of year filled with wonder, promise, and ugly basketball.
We’ll be previewing the rosters of all ten teams that will be involved in the Orlando Summer League by giving about 30-50 words on each player and letting you know how legitimate their NBA chances are.
The next team on our list?
Philadelphia 76ers Summer League roster
The Sixers are probably the most athletically exciting team in Orlando, with exciting collegiate players at every position. Oh, and they have Aaron Craft. He’s alive, kicking and fighting for an NBA chance.
Well, given the Sixers’ draft picks of Joel Embiid — recovering from foot surgery — and international prospect Dario Saric, neither of their first rounders are here. But given that the team had a catacomb of second rounders, we’re lucky enough to have a couple of them grace us with their presence. Vasilje Micic is not going to be on their team, and Jordan McRae is going to be on the Las Vegas iteration of their team, but we still get two of them.
K.J. McDaniels, SF: McDaniels was one of the best athletes in this season’s draft class, and given his penchant for defending, it was a complete shock to me that he fell out of the first round. He’s going to be a solid defensive role player in the Quinton Ross or P.J. Tucker mold for years in the NBA at worst in my opinion.
Jerami Grant, F: Grant on the other hand a long way to go to make himself an NBA player. He’s a 3/4 tweener without the bulk or frame to play the 4, but without the ball skills to play the 3. However, he’s a tremendous athlete that will be fun to watch develop in Delaware this season. My guess is that they just try to turn him loose defensively on the perimeter and pray the perimeter skills follow, but I’m not hopeful.
Players under contract
Nerlens Noel, C: This is the moment many Sixers fans have been waiting over a year for. Noel will finally debut in Summer League and put on their jersey. And after getting to see his first game in action before this was published, they won’t be disappointed. His motor is top notch, and he simply out-athleted everyone to 19 points, 4 steals and a block. He’s appointment viewing in Orlando.
Pierre Jackson, G: The scoring guard who look the D-League by storm last season suffered a torn right Achilles in his first Summer League game today. This is made all the more unfortunate by the fact that his contract was not guaranteed for this season. Hopefully Jackson makes a full recovery and is able to come back to Orlando and Vegas next year and earn the roster spot that he so deserved last season.
Hollis Thompson, G/F: Thompson is one of those guys who everyone loves but I don’t quite get it. Undoubtedly though, his motor level is high, he’s a long defender that causes issues for smaller wings, and his shot has improved to the point where he was a 40% three-point shooter on 160+ attempts last year. If the shooting holds, he’ll be an awesome “3 and D” player for many years in the league. It’s worth mentioning that he has a non-guaranteed contract, but he’s not in any danger of that being voided.
Casper Ware, G: Ware is a small scoring guard out of Long Beach State who played in Europe the last two seasons before being signed by the Sixers at the end of last season. He has a fully non-guaranteed deal, and Jackson’s injury leaves a large opening for him to make the roster. He’ll need to play well for the next two weeks to make the team.
Travis Bader, G: Bader is a shooter, through and through. He’s the all-time NCAA leader in three-pointers, and excels when running off of screens to get free for his jumper. Unfortunately though, he’s probably not an NBA athlete given the speed of the game. He’ll probably be a great European player in the Jaycee Carroll model though.
Aaron Craft, G: The NCAA defensive player of the year last season, he doesn’t have great length or size, but he has the highest motor of any player in his class. Given that we’re all about “motor” here on Upside and Motor, we’ll be rooting for the Craft experiment to succeed in Philadelphia or somewhere in the NBA. He looked solid in Philly’s first game, making life hell for Elfrid Payton and Seth Curry.
Ronald Roberts, F: Roberts is a superb athlete, but he’s still pretty skinny for the power forward position and doesn’t have the ability to step away from the basket yet. He’s a tough rebounder for his size, and with the athleticism he’s an excellent candidate for Delaware to try and develop and turn into a backup power forward.
Isaiah Sykes, G/F: Sykes is an undersized small forward that has tremendous feel for the game and length, but turned the ball over a lot in college and doesn’t quite have the shooting ability you would like out of a small forward. My guess is that he’s probably just a bit too small as well to be a defensive stopper prospect too. He’ll succeed in Europe though if he so chooses to go that route.
JaKarr Sampson, F: Sampson made the most mind-boggling decision of any NCAA prospect to turn pro after his sophomore season, and unsurprisingly went undrafted. It will require a lot of work from him to get to the NBA, mostly on his jump shot as he’s an NBA small forward that played mostly in the post in college. But he’s an NBA-level athlete so it’s possible he can make these developments and get to the league in a couple of years.
Talib Zanna, F: Zanna performed well this season for Pitt, averaging 13 points and 8.5 rebound per game, but he’s probably not a fluid enough athlete to make it into the NBA. The rebounding potential will probably intrigue some teams to take a shot on him as a developmental D-League prospect. But ultimately, he’s an undersized center prospect until he improves his skill level.
Melvin Ejim, F: The somewhat surprising Big-12 Player of the Year last season, Ejim is an undersized stretch-4 prospect that doesn’t quite have the lateral athleticism to play the 3 full-time. He’s basically the opposite of the Jerami Grant-type tweener. Ejim is multi-talented and skilled offensively and on the glass, but won’t be able to defend on the perimeter and is just too short to play inside. His game screams European star to me though. He’ll make money playing basketball for a long while.
Non-rookie, non-NBA players
Jamelle Hagins, F: Hagins is a great athlete that split time last season between France and the D-League. He’s probably not skilled enough to play in the NBA, but he has the size and length that scouts drool over. Teams will continue to try to develop him in the hopes he can become a backup big, but my guess is that he has a long D-League career as the league keeps expanding.
Ed Daniel, F: Mostly known for his long afro and Murray State’s long undefeated run with Isaiah Canaan, Daniel is a tough power forward. But at 6’7, he’s probably just a bit too undersized to make it in the NBA despite his seven-foot wingspan. It’s unfortunate, because he’s a huge dunker and a fun player to watch. He’ll have at least one highlight this week that will make you drop your jaw to the floor.