Syracuse's Southerland looking to impress Sixers
ORLANDO - James Southerland is looking to create his own destiny.
At Syracuse, he was the beneficiary of the Orange's drive-and-kick offense. At 6-foot-8, 210 pounds, the three-point specialist was a matchup problem for anyone trying to guard him on the perimeter.
Southerland thinks he can do the same thing for the 76ers, who are in need of a long-range shooter. Three of their top five three-point percentage shooters from last season - Royal Ivey, Dorell Wright, and Nick Young - became unrestricted free agents last Monday. Jrue Holiday, the squad's third-best three-point shooter, was traded to the New Orleans Pelicans on draft night.
Another reason for Southerland's confidence is Sixers first-round pick Michael Carter-Williams, a point guard out of Syracuse. Carter-Williams will be expected to replace Holiday, an all-star point guard. The duo's teamwork will be on display at the Orlando Pro Summer League, which runs Sunday through Friday here at the Amway Center's practice court.
"I feel like both of us complement each other well," Southerland said. "It's great to have someone you know you have been playing with for a while on the same team as you."
The chance to continue playing with Carter-Williams is part of the reason he doesn't regret turning down the San Antonio Spurs' draft offer.
The Spurs called Southerland before they were about to make the 58th overall pick on draft night. They wanted to know if the New York native would consider playing overseas for a season. The team did not promise to offer a contract or even a roster spot for the following season.
"I turned that down because there was no guarantee," said Southerland, who attended New York's Cardozo High, which produced Ivey and former NBA players Rafer Alston and Duane Causwell (also a Temple product).
"If I was to go overseas, I could just go by myself," he continued. "I don't really need a team to send me overseas. And also if they would have drafted me, it would have basically closed the door to other options.
"So at that point, it was better to go undrafted."
After playing here with the Sixers, he'll play for the Golden State Warriors in the Las Vegas Summer League, which runs Friday through July 22.
"I'm just going to go out [in the summer leagues] and just get exposure and just play hard and hopefully make a roster," Southerland said.
The 23-year-old averaged 13.3 points and 5.2 rebounds last season at Syracuse. Southerland made 39.8 percent of his three-pointers and averaged 2.5 made per game. He hit nine against Arkansas to tie a school record.
"Everybody recognizes his ability to shoot the basketball," said Sixers assistant Michael Curry, who is running the Sixers' summer-league team. "Every time he comes off a pick, he [puts] guys in all different kind of flares. He starts a chain reaction.
"So the speed of which he plays, the fact that he can really shoot the basketball makes him a big threat every time he's on the court, even when he's not getting shots."
Needing improvement on defense, Southerland has been working on guarding opponents off the dribble.
With his size and shooting ability, he would be an economical replacement for Wright (6-9), who will receive $6 million for signing with the Portland Trail Blazers.
Contact Keith Pompey at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @PompeyOnSixers.