The Process Disciples: Zhaire Smith, Jamal Crawford, and the Philadelphia 76ers offseason

Philadelphia 76ers, Zhaire Smith

Here we are again, another offseason where the top draft pick of the Philadelphia 76ers has gotten injured and a lot of Philly fans are wondering why more moves weren’t made. Zhaire Smith was starting to show some promising flashes in Summer League, and he was preparing to show the Philly faithful that he was worth trading away hometown hero Mikal Bridges

During a workout, Zhaire Smith suffered a Jones Fracture similar to the one that caused Ben Simmons to miss all of his first season in the NBA. Upon the news of the injury, Jamal Crawford and the 76ers started to have mutual interests. This also begs the question of whether or not the Sixers should have been more aggressive this offseason, or if they made the correct moves for now.

To answer a lot of these questions, we bring in our own Philly faithful to give their opinions on all things Philadelphia 76ers. The writers joining us today are:

1. Based on Summer League, what are your thoughts on Zhaire Smith? Who stood out the most?

Calpin: My thoughts on Zaire Smith after watching the Summer League didn’t change too much from the thoughts I had before. He is a natural athlete, as many in this draft were, who plays hard and consistent defense but does need to work on his shot. He had spurts of offense throughout the Summer League that were exciting but there were also times where he looked erratic and his shot definitely didn’t look up to part of where it will need to be.

The stand out star for me in the Summer League had to be Furkan Korkmaz. He showed that he has the ability to really get hot from the outside when he made eight three-pointers in a game against the Boston Celtics. He averaged nearly 17 points per game over the six games that the Sixers played. It is clear the Sixers can use any bench scoring they can get so the ability for him to show the coaching staff that he can score and heat up from the outside was encouraging enough for me.

Anderson: Zhaire Smith’s gameplay in the Summer League did not change my thoughts about him much at all. I liked his aggressive play and athletic ability. He had some glimpses of passes that stood out to me but making a pass while jumping isn’t always the right way to make a pass. Overall, I liked what I saw and the Sixers will have time to adapt him to the league like with their previous injured draft picks in Simmons and Fultz.

Who stood out most to me had to be Furkan Korkmaz. He was playing like he had a chip on his shoulder and brought the fire nearly every chance he had. Some shots looked forced, but he was a big help in the scoring department with a 40-point performance against the Boston Celtics and a clutch and-one basket to win against the Milwaukee Bucks. He brought the excitement out of the team and that’s a good trait to have as a basketball player.

Fischbein: Well, I’ll start off by saying my expectations were not very high for Zhaire coming into Summer League. Not to say I thought he was a bad player, but because he’ll be asked to play a different game in the NBA compared to what he played in college. There were flashes of great off-ball movement, some nice court awareness, and of course, his athleticism lined up with the hype. Since the defensive tools and the IQ is there, it allows for a lot of hope in his growth. Just based off this year’s Summer League though, I’d give him a grade of a C+.

Furkan Korkmaz was definitely the headline grabber for the Sixers during Summer League. To me, however, the one that stood out the most was Norvel Pelle. If you’re not aware of who Pelle is then that might be due to the fact that he did not play college ball. Pelle was drafted into the G-League by the Delaware 87ers and then bounced around from the G-League to overseas and back. During Summer League, Pelle showed that he can be a defensive asset off of the bench and provide solid production elsewhere in limited playing time. He only received around fifteen minutes per game throughout Summer League, but always gave around seven to ten points, a handful of rebounds, and a couple blocks. The Sixers did sign Pelle, but we’ll have to wait and see if he makes the full-time roster.

2. Do you like the potential fit of Jamal Crawford?

Calpin: For the right money, absolutely. For me what he brings to the locker room is almost just as important to me for what he can bring on the court. The Sixers have a young team and they lost some veterans in Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova in the offseason, bringing in a guy like Crawford, who has been around the league for a ton of time is big time. Plus, Crawford can still get you eight to 10 points on any given night.

Anderson: Yes, I do. The Sixers need another veteran leader in the group besides Amir Johnson and Crawford would bring that to the table. Crawford has been in the league for 18 seasons with the possibility of the Sixers being the seventh team he has played for. Losing Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova will affect their outside shooting results as a team, but with the addition of Jamal Crawford, I believe that makes up for the loss. Crawford would fit well in the Sixers’ gameplan as a veteran role player, so I see this as a nice fit for him.

Fischbein: I LOVE this fit! The skill-set that Jamal Crawford brings to the table is exactly what everyone said the Sixers needed when they started stalling in last year’s playoffs. Then if you add in an improved Markelle Fultz to potentially be in the starting five, you have one high-powered offense in Philly.

3. Do you think the Sixers should have been more aggressive in free agency? If so, what should they have done differently?

Philadelphia 76ers
The Sixers will continue their hunt for a superstar. Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Calpin: I can’t speak to how aggressive or what they were offering some of the big names such as LeBron James or Paul George. Would I have loved to have some of those guys on the team? Of course! But I think they took their shots and I think they were in a lot of discussions so I am happy after they didn’t land the big names they didn’t go out and spend money they didn’t need to be spending. We have a strong, young core and can put affordable pieces around them to still be championship contenders.

Anderson: No, they did not have to go into this free agency aggressive. We knew some discussions were happening when free agency began in July and the whole world wanted to know where LeBron James or Kawhi Leonard were heading, but the Sixers don’t NEED to add a superstar to make this team the best they can be. The Sixers have a young group of players who are getting more and more comfortable in the league over the years, growing stronger physically and with team chemistry. However, it would’ve been amazing hearing one of the All-Star free agents intended to sign with Philadelphia this offseason, but the Sixers are capable of having a successful season without any of them.

Fischbein: No, I do not think the Sixers should have mortgaged their future just to get a shot at keeping Kawhi for more than one year. They already look good just due to the fact that they were granted a meeting with LeBron’s people, so now future free agents know that the Sixers are serious. They grabbed some more young talent in the draft and filled in the gaps with some returning players, and potentially Jamal Crawford. This season should be the one to show that the young core can make another leap, then the free agency splashes can start next year.

4. Who will contribute the most this season, Jonah Bolden, Furkan Korkmaz, or Landry Shamet?

Calpin: To be honest with you, I was not impressed with Bolden in the Summer League. For me, I think that Shamet will be able to contribute the most this season. I think he will get the biggest chance out of these three players and won’t have some of the pressures he had in school in terms of handling the ball. He will become a spot up shooter and guys like T.J. McConnell and Simmons will be able to set him up well. The Sixers live beyond the arc and he will become someone for the team that can hit those spot-up jumpers and that is why I think he will be the most valuable out of these three guys.

Anderson: I still believe in Furkan Korkmaz. He did not play many minutes last season, but this Summer League, he’s shown he wants to be involved more. The 6’7 guard can help the Sixers with scoring off the bench, along with McConnell and hopefully Wilson Chandler as well. Shamet will also contribute with his ball handling, but his injury is setting him back right now. In the end, the Sixers will still be a team that needs good outside shooters, so mainly the one between Korkmaz and Shamet that can make shots more consistently will have more opportunities to contribute this season.

Fischbein: I’ll start off by saying Jonah Bolden did not look nearly as impressive this summer compared to last summer. Korkmaz, outside of the huge 40-point game, was lackluster as well. While showing some more confidence than before, I didn’t see many reasons why he would be able to stay on the floor against actual NBA teams. So, that brings me to Landry Shamet. Sure, we didn’t get to see him all that much this summer due to hurting his ankle, but he’s my answer for this question. He seems like the one who can help the bench squad out the most, and his versatility as a combo guard at Wichita State will definitely come into play at the next level.


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