Ricky Council IV stars in big fourth quarter as Sixers quiet Thunder

Sixers Council
Boston Celtics center Kristaps Porzingis (8) tries to block a shot by Philadelphia 76ers guard Ricky Council IV (16) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Kicking off their 2024 Summer League action, the Philadelphia 76ers took to the hardwood in Salt Lake City, Utah, for a matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder. This would be the much-anticipated debut for several Sixers, including rookies Jared McCain and Adem Bona.

While both of the Sixers’ young newbies starred in their own way, it was Ricky Council IV who stole the show with a 19-point fourth-quarter performance that sealed a 102-92 victory for Philadelphia.

Ricky Council the IV quarter

Coming into the final quarter of Monday night’s game, Council struggled to find his shot, missing his first four attempts from deep. After proving himself as an undrafted rookie last season, effectively forcing the Sixers to sign him to a new four-year deal, Council was eager to prove Philadelphia’s faith was not misplaced, but through three quarters, it was certainly not the showing he expected out of himself.

Despite his early mishaps, Council’s confidence did not waiver, a decision the young player had to make, remembering what his teammates last season had instilled in him.

Council would go on to make his next five attempts from range, finishing the night five of ten. Philadelphia held a moderate lead stemming from a strong second-quarter team performance, but without this explosion from Council, there is no certainty they still would have pulled this game out.

While Council’s performance may have distracted viewers from the performances of the Sixers’ rookie class, it could not pull full focus as both Jared McCain and Adem Bona burst onto the scene.

Jared McCain’s backward but encouraging game

The scouting report on McCain coming out of college was that he boasted an elite shot but was far from a finished product, with questions surrounding his driving, ball-handling, and defensive capabilities. In a Freaky Friday of a Monday, McCain couldn’t get a shot to fall, missing all six he took from deep, but proved himself as a physical presence both defensively and driving into the lane.

McCain’s shot will surely return in future games, but it was certainly encouraging to see such a well-rounded performance from the Sixers’ first-round pick. There’s still much to do, and he’ll have to prove it against much fiercer competition, but it was a positive impression left on the court by Jared McCain, and the same could certainly be said of his fellow draftee, Adem Bona.

Adem Bona excites early and often

Like he was shot out of a cannon, Adem Bona was moving and never stopped.

Winning the tip-off in convincing fashion, Bona quickly worked his way to the basket, calling for a lob and nearly ending the summer league career of Thunder center Kylor Kelly. While that bucket was not made to fall, Bona quickly responded with a big-time slam off the pick-and-roll with Jeff Dowtin Jr.

Bona finished the game with seven points, seven rebounds, and two blocks, but it was his energy and hustle that stood out above everything else. That was the scouting report on Bona coming out of college, and he certainly delivered in his first game with the Sixers, showing off what he already knew he was capable of.

“One of the things I would love to show this year is to be able to do everything defensively, on ball, pick and roll, switching,” Bona Metro Philadelphia. “That’s one thing I think I would love to show my rookie year. Also, offensively, to be able to initiate plays, get out to pick and roll, and play fast, which is one of my strengths.”

The Sixers will next face the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday night at 7:00 p.m., and you can catch the game once again on ESPN.