FINALLY, basketball is back…almost. The Sixers play their first pre-season game in a few hours against the Wizards and will look to shake off the rust quickly and start the pre-season with a win. Here are the top three things to keep an eye on during the game.
3: Point Guard War
The Point Guard position is an uncertain one in Philadelphia with five guys all competing to get the start come the season opener. With training camp already dictating the early pace for guys like Tony Wroten who sits out with injury, it will be interesting to see who gets the most minutes and more importantly who makes the most of their minutes.
With Pierre Jackson out also, guys like Isaiah Canaan and even Scottie Wilbekin’s minutes are set to sky rocket. The question is, who is going to look the most efficient when on the court? There are a few candidates for the position but with some big names injured, players may not get a better opportunity to prove themselves ahead of the upcoming season.
2: Lord Covington
He’s won the support of Brett Brown and he’s rapidly winning the support of the Sixers fanbase. Robert Covington averaged 13.5 points last season for the Sixers alongside 4.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game. His presence on the floor is becoming more dominant but also predictable. So to combat this, Covington has been working on his up-fake to try and catch opposing defenders off balance so he can get an open shot after a simple opponents scouting report will demand you don’t let Covington simply catch and shoot.
Jab steps, advanced ball control drills and much more have been embedded in training camp to try and progress Covington’s game and make him more versatile. The first pre-season game should be a reflection of that so keep an eye out for Covington..he may well spring a few physical moves that people would not typically associate with him.
1: Noel and Okafor
There would be no other aspect to watch at number one let’s be honest. It’s not just the city of brotherly love waiting to see how the duo play together but the entire NBA. Noel is expected to be playing as a power forward so that Okafor can rotate in at C so it’s very much a new experience for both players.
Nerlens has been working hard on his jumpshot and also his free throws reportedly in order to adapt to his new position and has been in Okafor’s shoes, making him almost the perfect role model to base your game around.
A lot of sites are still expressing doubts over the duo however so what I will personally be looking out for is how the two bounce off each other. Yes there’s a lot of expectation which should not be there at such an early stage in pre-season and yes the team want to start with a win. But this is a time to learn about your teammates in a live game environment. Personally, I just want to see how the two perform overall. Some improved Noel mid range shots after being 15 for 55 on shots from 16 to 23 feet last season, some free throw conversions from Okafor and that big defensive game that has been spoken so highly of.
But more than anything..we know it’s going to be rusty. It’s pre-season and the first game the guys have played in 6 months..give it time. We’re just happy to see the Sixers back on the court, big things are coming!