Maurice Harkless was a controversial draft choice for the Philadelphia 76ers, but he's doing his best to make a strong first impression. As the 76ers opened up summer league action, Harkless was in the spotlight and he made the most of his opportunity. In 23 minutes of action, he had nine points and five rebounds. While those might not be numbers that jump off the pages, they were impressive nonetheless. As a fan, I am happy to see Harkless get off to a nice start. Given the changes that are facing the 76ers, he is going to be counted on to do a lot this season.
When the 76ers chose Harkless with the 15th overall pick, many fans like me questioned why they would do that. After all, the team needed a suitable power forward and Harkless didn't really fit that bill. At 6'8", his size made me think that the team was just getting another Thaddeus Young. Some of the criticism was eased when the team traded up to select Arnett Moultrie later in the first round, but there were still questions about Harkless.
Not long after the draft, the pressure on Harkless increased when the 76ers confirmed that they were parting ways with Elton Brand and Lou Williams. Those were two of the most important players on the team over the past few seasons. Bringing in Nick Young was a nice move but there was a clear message. These rookies are going to have to contribute right away. It's nice to see the top pick get off to a positive start.
No one is going to be thrilled about one summer league game. In fact, most fans won't even care. However, I always like to see what the new players do when they first hit the floor. Given the draft controversy, and a hip flexor injury from two months ago, I am happy that Harkless not only played but played well. That shows me that he has the drive to live up to expectations. He seems like a player that understands what is being asked of him and that's all we can ask for right now. Hopefully, he will continue to play strong throughout the rest of the summer league and build momentum for training camp.Mark Paul is a Philadelphia resident and lifelong 76ers fan.
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