Charles Bassey only saw nine minutes but he certainly made an impression on his head coach. Doc Rivers called him “the best of the young guys” on the court during Tuesday night’s 120-85 blowout loss to the Utah Jazz. He even made a first-half appearance for a struggling Andre Drummond.
Bassey – the 53rd overall pick out of Western Kentucky – threw his 6-foot-9, 230-pound frame around with reckless abandon. He couldn’t stop Rudy Gobert. Then again, no one could. But Bassey may have done enough to warrant more minutes after scoring five points and collecting four boards. Rivers had only positive things to say about him.
“I thought Charles was the best guy of the young guys. I thought he was fantastic,” Rivers told reporters after the game. “He knows the coverages and stuff already, and that’s really impressive for a young guy.”
Rivers specifically pointed to a scene late in the game when Bassey dressed down an unnamed veteran. The player wasn’t in the right coverage and Bassey let him know. It was a testament to the rookie’s film study.
“He actually got on a guy late in the game because the guy didn’t do the right coverage,” Rivers said. “It should have been the other way around. It shouldn’t have been the rookie telling the vet. It should have been the vet telling the rookie. So just watching him, he knows how to play.”
Bassey has logged 25 total minutes in six games this season. He is averaging 1.5 points, 1.3 rebounds, 0.5 blocks. Remember, the native of Nigeria sat out the summer league and only saw action in three preseason games due to contract negotiations.
“He’s raw but he’s willing to ask for help,” Rivers said. “He has a good nose for the ball, I like him. I like him as a player.”
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Rivers Says ‘No Cavalry Coming’
Rivers was asked about his missing starters about a dozen times during his post-game press conference. Each time the head coach re-iterated one phrase: “I don’t want to talk about the guys who aren’t here.”
Joel Embiid and Matisse Thybulle remain out due to COVID-19 protocols and no one knows if they’ll fly out to join the final four games of the Sixers’ West Coast swing. They are also down Danny Green (hamstring) while Seth Curry continues to play through a foot contusion. No excuses, according to Rivers.
“We don’t worry about that because they’re not here,” Rivers said. “There’s no cavalry coming. Right now we got to play with what we have, we understand that, we just got to do better. We don’t have a margin for error in games. We almost have to play perfect to have a chance to win a game and for awhile we were doing that and right now we’re not.”
The Sixers have dropped five straight contests, including two to start their six-game road trip. It doesn’t get any easier with matchups against the Denver Nuggets (November 18), Portland Trail Blazers (November 20), Sacramento Kings (November 22), Golden State Warriors (November 24) on the horizon. Those teams own a combined 34-23 record.
“Nothing,” Rivers said when asked about an immediate change. “There’s nothing to shift, it’s a long season, you go through a lot of games and like there’s nobody here worried. When you have the injuries we have and the games that we’ve played … listen, I want to win every game but I do understand what we’re under right now, too.”
Georges Niang’s Utah Homecoming
Georges Niang spent four seasons in Utah and left on good terms. Former Jazz teammate Donovan Mitchell was excited to see Niang who was remembered there for being a “loud jokester.” Mitchell called him one of the best teammates he ever had.
“He’s one of the best teammates I’ve had,” Mitchell told Ryan Miller of KSL.com. “He’s never had a bad day. He’s always keeping everything positive.”
Niang had been scorching hot coming into this one but cooled off. He finished with just seven points and three rebounds in 30 minutes off the bench. He did grab two early steals that kept Philly close before the game got out of hand. The Jazz also feted him with a video tribute with 2:24 left in the first quarter (via The Inquirer’s Keith Pompey).