Even if your mother always warned you not to get ahead of yourself, let’s get ahead of ourselves anyway. After all, Coach Klein did teach Bobby Boucher in The Waterboy that “what Mama don’t know, won’t hurt her.”
Classic movies from 1998 aside, the 76ers are reportedly close to trading for the Celtics‘ No. 1 overall pick in next week’s draft. If completed, Philly would very likely select Markelle Fultz, the tantalizing University of Washington freshman with major upside. Can you imagine Fultz on the court with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons? The Sixers could boast three of the most promising young players in the NBA. Fultz is 19 years old, Simmons is 20, and Embiid is 23. Lest we forget, Philly also possesses promising 23-year-olds Dario Saric and Richaun Holmes on its youthful roster.
If Fultz’s workout with the Sixers (scheduled for 6 PM Eastern Time Saturday night) goes as well as expected, the trade could soon be finalized, and 76ers fans could witness their fantasy coming true of a Fultz-Simmons-Embiid big (and young) three. Today’s discussion question is: assuming the trade is completed and the Sixers wind up with Fultz, how special can this trio be together? What kind of obstacles do you expect them to face? If Brett Brown still elects to play Simmons at point guard, would that mostly help or hurt Fultz’s development on the court?
We’d love to hear your insight in the comment section.
With the No. 3 pick in this month’s draft, the Sixers aren’t overly likely to have a chance to draft either Markelle Fultz or Lonzo Ball, but that doesn’t mean the team isn’t doing its due diligence on those top prospects. President of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo told reporters today, including Derek Bodner (Twitter link) that they’ve talked to Fultz’s reps about the possibility of working him out, though it seems like he may only audition for the Celtics.
Meanwhile, Colangelo said the Sixers haven’t yet met with Ball, but would still like to do so, as Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly.com tweets. With the exception of those two point guards, Philadelphia has workouts lined up for all of this year’s top prospects, according to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer (Twitter link).
Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons won’t participate in Summer League play for the Sixers, Colangelo confirmed today (Twitter link via Bodner). Both players are coming off season-ending injuries, so it seems the team will take it slow and look to get them ready for the fall.
2016 first-round pick Furkan Korkmaz, a draft-and-stash prospect, may play for the Sixers in the Summer League, depending on his international commitments (Twitter link via Bodner). For now, Korkmaz is traveling to Philadelphia to visit the Sixers and work out with some of the club’s players, per Pompey (Twitter link). The young shooting guard wants to come stateside for the 2017/18 season, but has a pricey buyout – $2MM, according to David Pick – and the 76ers may want to stash him for a little while longer.
The Sixers are unlikely to secure disability insurance on center Joel Embiid if they sign him to a long-term deal, according to Bobby Marks of The Vertical. Embiid’s pro career was stalled for two seasons by right foot ailments and his 2016/17 campaign was limited to 31 games by a left knee injury. He’s still a prime candidate for the Rookie of the Year award after averaging 20.2 PPG, 7.8 RPG and 2.5 BPG when he was able to take the court.
Embiid is eligible for a rookie extension this summer and Marks suggests that Philadelphia should follow the Nets’ lead on the sticky insurance issue. Under the multi-year terms that Brooklyn stipulated when re-signing center Brook Lopez, its contractual obligations would have been cut in half in the second year and down to 25% in the third year if Lopez had re-injured his right foot and wound up playing fewer than 60 games and averaged less than 15 minutes. Marks suggests the Sixers should wait until next summer and see if Embiid can play regularly next season. Embiid, who will make $6.1MM in the 2017/18 season, becomes a restricted free agent in the summer of 2018.
There are built-in risks if the Sixers take a wait-and-see approach with Embiid. He could opt to sign his qualifying offer of $8MM and become an unrestricted free agent the following summer. He could also sign a monster offer sheet from another team willing to risk the possibility of Embiid suffering a major injury setback with any contractual protections like the Lopez deal.
Philadelphia appears optimistic that Embiid will be ready to go next season and GM Bryan Colangelosaid recently he expects Embiid’s body will hold up on back-to-backs. Embiid underwent arthroscopic knee surgery late last month.
Bryan Colangelo has become the least trusted GM in Philadelphia, charges Marcus Hayes of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Hayes blasts Colangelo for being evasive about releasing injury details regarding Joel Embiid, Nerlens Noel, Dario Saric and others, and more recently for refusing to say whether Ben Simmons will play in the Summer League. The writer contends that Simmons needs the work to help with his transition to point guard and criticizes Colangelo for not being more open about the team’s plans.
There’s more news out of Philadelphia:
A long string of injuries and the February trades of Noel and Ersan Ilyasova made Colangelo’s first full season in charge look like another Sam Hinkie season, writes Bob Ford of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Ford adds that the team wasn’t able to address several important questions for the future of the franchise, such as whether Simmons can handle the point guard role, if he and Embiid are an effective combination and if Jerryd Bayless can be counted on as a starter.
Pacers forward Paul George might be worth a gamble if the Sixers want to make a splash this summer, Ford writes in a separate column. George has a player option for 2018/19, which means he will be effectively entering the final year of his contract next season. With rumors that he is interested in joining his hometown Lakers, Indiana may be tempted to move him in a trade instead of losing him with nothing in return. The Sixers have young talent to offer, and may have two high picks, depending on the results of next month’s lottery. “At the three, Robert Covington kind of has that position locked up with not a lot of depth at the position currently,” Colangelo recently told reporters. “But we’ve got some interesting draft prospects in the top 10 that happen to address that situation and that need.”
Covington underwent minor arthroscopic surgery this week to fix a meniscus tear in his right knee, the Sixers announced on their website. Covington will rehab the knee in Philadelphia and is expected to be ready for full basketball activities this summer.
“I don’t want to take his passion from the game,” McMillan said of Stephenson. “We always have to control ourselves, that’s including myself on the sidelines. Sometimes that can become a distraction. We talk about that all the time. You can’t be drunk on emotions out there. We got to be able to get back, get to the next play. That’s for me, too.”
The combo guard knows he needs to control his emotions, adding that he doesn’t want to give the opposition anything they can use as an advantage.
“Sometimes I tend to get out of control,” Stephenson said. “I was getting frustrated with Kevin Love scoring on me. But that’s the passion I have for the game. I need to stop showing it. If somebody’s scoring on you and you show frustration, they’re going to keep going to it. I felt like I showed that. That’s what Paul [George] was talking about. Don’t show them no weakness.”
Clifton envisions McMillan shortening his bench for Game 3, which could mean more time for Stephenson in the Pacers‘ first home playoff game of 2017.
Here’s more from
GM Bryan Colangelo said the Sixers will address the power forward position this offseason, as Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News relays. “I think the stretch-four position is something, backing up Dario [Saric] or starting in front of Dario, whichever it is if we can find someone that’s better. We’ve got to probably address that four position,” Colangelo said.
The Sixers need to sign Ersan Ilyasova in free agency, Cooney contends in the same piece. The scribe pegs the power forward’s market value at $10-12MM per year, which he considers a reasonable rate for a player who fits in well next to Joel Embiid in the frontcourt.
Okafor was the subject of numerous trade rumors prior to February’s deadline. and his future with the organization remains uncertain. Brown said Okafor understands this is an important offseason for him (Twitter link), adding, “Our mission this summer is to get his body right.” (Twitter link). GM Bryan Colangelo, who also spoke to reporters today, didn’t say that trading Okafor will be a priority, but he noted, “If a deal comes along that makes sense for both, we’ll listen.” (Twitter link).
There’s more today out of Philadelphia:
Brown and Colangelo both identified shooting as the Sixers’ most pressing offseason need. Brown said the team also needs to find a backup power forward, sign some veterans, assess Simmons’ abilities as a point guard and find the right shooting guard to play alongside him, tweets Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly.
Brown added that early-season injuries to Simmons and Jerryd Bayless were the biggest obstacles the Sixers faced in their 28-54 season (Twitter link). Simmons fractured a bone in his right foot during training camp and missed the entire year. Bayless, who signed a three-year, $27MM deal last offseason, tore a ligament in his left wrist during camp and was limited to three games. “You felt like you just blew out your backcourt in about a week,” Brown said.
The Sixers are expecting a much healthier version of Embiid next season, Pompey tweets. After missing his first two NBA seasons, Embiid was limited to 31 games in his rookie year. Although he played spectacularly, averaging 20.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game, Embiid was on a minutes restriction and Philadelphia’s medical staff was very cautious about his availability. “I don’t think back-to-backs will be an issue” for Embiid next season, Colangelo said.
Colangelo promises an aggressive approach in free agency, saying, “If there is the right free agent to spend money on, we will.” (Twitter link). The Sixers will enter the July bidding with more than $50MM available under the salary cap. Colangelo also vowed to be “prudent and wise” with any signings (Twitter link).
The Sixers lost to the Celtics in Game 7 of the 2012 Eastern Conference semifinals and Lavoy Allen believes that if Philadelphia had prevailed in that contest, the franchise would be in a much different position, as Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer relays.
“We would have had a couple of more years with [Nikola Vucevic], Andre Iguodala, and a few of the guys,” said Allen. “We would have had some more good years if we would have kept that team together.”
Instead, the team pivoted, making a trade for Andrew Bynum. The big man wasn’t able to stay on the court and a year later, The Process was born.
Here’s more from Philadelphia:
Coach Brett Brown would like to see Ben Simmons participate in summer league, but it’s unclear if the 2016 No.1 overall pick will be healthy enough to play, Pompey passes along in the same piece. “His health and the judgment of his health rules the day. I don’t know what that looks like when we are talking about the summer league,” Brown said.
Brown would like to see the Sixers add shooters this offseason, David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News relays. “We need shooters,” Brown said. “That’s kind of the bottom line. We need to get Ben Simmons the ball, we need to have Joel be Joel, and get a bunch of shooters around them.”
If the Sixers want to win next season, T.J. McConnell may give them the best chance to do so, Marcus Hayes of the Philadelphia Daily News opines. Hayes is a fan of the point guard’s defense and he believes McConnell will return better immediate value at the position than Simmons or a first-round draft pick would.
Coach Jeff Hornacek admits that the all-in switch to the triangle mid-season may not have been the best move for the Knicks, Al Iannazzone of Newsday relays. “It shouldn’t have been that big of a deal,” Hornacek said. “But from the players’ side they probably thought it was too big a change. We’ll figure what’s best for us, what everybody wants to do and try to go from day one and leave it like that.”
If the Celtics are going to make a deep postseason run, they must rediscover their 3-point shot, A. Sherrod Blakely of Comcast Sportsnet argues. Marcus Smart, who will be eligible for a rookie extension this offseason, is among the team’s bench players who have struggled from behind the arc since the All-Star break.
It has been a somewhat underwhelming year for NBA rookies. No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons has missed the entire season due to a foot injury, while other top selections from the 2016 draft – such as Brandon Ingram, Jaylen Brown, Kris Dunn, and Buddy Hield – have shown promise but haven’t provided consistent production throughout the season.
With the regular season winding down, a small handful of viable candidates for the NBA’s 2017 Rookie of the Year award have emerged, and none of them are 2016 first-round picks, which is somewhat unprecedented in recent history.
Since the turn of the century, 18 players have been named the NBA’s Rookie of the Year, including co-winners Elton Brand and Steve Francis in 2000. Of those 18 players, 17 were drafted in the first round a year earlier — the only exception is Blake Griffin, a first overall pick who missed his first NBA season and won the award in his second year. Additionally, all 18 Rookies of the Year were top-11 picks, with Michael Carter-Williams (11th) and Amar’e Stoudemire (ninth) representing the lowest-drafted winners.
This year, the top three contenders for Rookie of the Year don’t meet the criteria noted above. Joel Embiid was a top pick, but he missed his first two NBA seasons before finally making it onto the court this season. Dario Saric was selected outside of the top 11 (12th), and spent two seasons playing overseas before arriving stateside. And Malcolm Brogdon, the top non-Sixer in contention for the award, was selected in the second round last year, 36th overall.
Of those top three candidates, a group that includes two players drafted in 2014 and a 2016 second-rounder, Embiid was easily the most impressive on a per-game basis, averaging a staggering 20.2 PPG, 7.8 RPG, and 2.5 BPG in just 25.4 minutes per contest. However, injuries derailed his season once again, and he was limited to just 31 regular season games, making it tough to vote for him.
His teammate Saric emerged as a top contender for Rookie of the Year in recent months, bringing his season-long averages up to 12.9 PPG and 6.3 RPG after a slow start. Since January 24, around the time Embiid played his last game of the season, the Croatian forward has averaged an impressive 16.9 PPG, 6.8 RPG, and 2.9 APG in 36 contests.
In Milwaukee, meanwhile, Brogdon has been a steady contributor for the Bucks all year, chipping in 10.3 PPG, 4.3 APG, 2.8 RPG, 1.1 SPG, and a .404 3PT%. According to Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com, who spoke to about a dozen voters around the league, Brogdon has “real support” to win Rookie of the Year, though some voters still like Embiid, and Saric may have an overall lead.
What do you think? Is one of those three players is deserving of the Rookie of the Year award this year, or should another rookie take home the hardware? Submit your vote below and then jump into the comments section to share your thoughts!