As the opening of training camps inch closer by the day, teams have begun to fill out the back ends of their roster. Some call these guys camp bodies, and while many of them do actually have a chance to make the team that signed them, there is a better chance they will end up with the team’s D-League affiliate to gain some seasoning.
The Philadelphia 76ers recent signings of undrafted free agents Cat Barber, James Webb III, and Shawn Long fit the bill. Despite what his name might make some assume, Barber is a basketball player and not a groomer for Joel Embiid’s feline pets.
After going undrafted out of NC State, Barber went to Las Vegas Summer League with the New Orleans Pelicans. Barber played sparingly (11.6 minutes per game) in Vegas, averaging 6.25 points on 41.7 percent shooting. However, there is a reason to believe Barber could be a great scoring option for the Delaware 87ers. During his junior year in college, Barber averaged 23.5 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 4.5 assists while shooting 43.4 percent from the field and 36.1 percent from three. If he can improve his efficiency, Barber could get a call-up to play in a relatively barren Sixers’ backcourt.
Webb and Long will be competing for spots on the wing, another area of need for Philadelphia. Both played for the Sixers in Las Vegas and Salt Lake City, but like Barber, neither player played a ton in Summer League. Webb made 8 of his 20 threes this summer after shooting 33 percent from distance during his time at Boise State. 20 shots are too small of a sample size to draw definitive conclusions, but if he can continue to knock down threes at that rate he has an outside chance at making the team or at the very least impressing in the D-League.
Long shot even better than that from behind the arc, making 7 of his 13 three-pointers over the summer with the Sixers. That’s another incredibly small sample size, with his 34.1 percent success rate in college for Louisiana-Lafayette making it look like a mirage, but if Long hits his shots he could provide sorely needed spacing for the Sixers or 87ers.
The Sixers will be among the worst teams in the NBA this season, which means they offer a great opportunity for UDFA’s like those three to eventually receive a call-up as the team auditions young players to find keepers going forward.
Outside of the opportunity to play, another way teams can make training camp spots with eventual D-League placement enticing is guaranteed money. The Sixers have invested in these three players. Barber’s guaranteed money has yet to be reported, but Webb and Long each received $65,000 guarantees in their contracts. Those types of small guarantees are often used with players like this in order to subsidize their D-League salaries, which are still capped at a maximum of $26,000 a year.
There is nothing to stop any of the three from taking a more lucrative deal overseas, but should Barber, Long, or Webb not make the Sixers’ final roster, Philadelphia could have at least helped stock the 87ers with a few talented prospects heading into the 2016-17 season.