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NBA China Games | What They’re Saying

Since arriving in Shanghai late Wednesday morning, the 76ers – both individually and collectively – have been part of a flurry of activity, between community initiatives, sponsorship appearances, and fan entertainment events.

So much has been going on, in fact, it’s almost easy to lose track of one of the primary purposes of the team’s visit to the South Pacific – that it will be playing its final two pre-season tune-ups against the Dallas Mavericks as part of the annual NBA China Games.

With the first of these pairings looming Friday, at the 18,000-seat Mercedes Benz Arena, here’s a round-up of a couple key subplots that have emerged from the media sessions the Sixers have conducted here.

Hard to Miss

Throughout Shanghai, the most populous city in the world, at 24 million people, there’s plenty of signage promoting this year’s NBA China Games – on lampposts, billboards, buildings, you name it.

Clearly, the league has put a lot of effort into a establishing a strong presence in the local marketplace.

“It’s insane, it’s really insane,” said Markelle Fultz. “Just to be able to drive down the street, and see yourself or one of your teammates on a poster, it’s pretty crazy to see all the way out here, how global the [NBA] is. It’s pretty cool.”

As for Shanghai itself, where temperatures have so far been in the high 70s and low 80s…

“It’s been beautiful,” Fultz said. “Just coming here, experiencing this opportunity that we have, the fans here are amazing. They love us, both teams. It’s really overwhelming.”

Taking Stock at the Pre-Season Midway Point

The Sixers are one of two teams in the Eastern Conference, along with the New York Knicks, to have won both of their pre-season games.

What does that mean? Probably not a whole lot, but from a holistic standpoint, Brett Brown sounds like he’s liked how his club has been playing.

“I think the corporate knowledge and the carry over from our structure and the familiarity with me, the players, that counts for a lot,” Brown said Wednesday. “This might not have been a beneficial trip if we were just a brand new team. You can see how that could have changed some things. But because we have been together, we get into things a little bit quicker.”

Continuing to remain top of mind for Brown is the state of the Sixers’ small forward rotation. Wilson Chandler (left hamstring) and Jerryd Bayless (left knee) are each dealing with injuries, leaving the lionshare of vacant minutes to youngsters Furkan Korkmaz and Landry Shamet.

“I think Wilson’s injury is still the area that I have to / we have to think through,” said Brown. “Last game, I ended up going with Landry Shamet first. We’ll figure out what that’s going to look like our next game.

“After that, I think there’s a good solid feeling and formula and rotation with our core players.”

Managing Minutes

For Friday’s game, Brett Brown hinted he might be inclined to go with his top guys a little bit longer than he did in each of the Sixers’ first two pre-season contests, when the first-stringers and logged anywhere from 20 to 24 minutes of action.

“By and large, I think we’re thoughtful and we’re solid on what we’ve been doing,” Brown said Wednesday. “We’ve had long conversations with our coaching staff, with our sports science people, and just making sure we can deliver them to opening night responsibly, and they’re ready to play basketball.”

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