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Give and Go: Which Sixer has been most disappointing through camp, preseason?

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Give and Go: Which Sixer has been most disappointing through camp, preseason?

Each week, our resident basketball analysts will discuss some of the hottest topics involving the Sixers.

Running the Give and Go are NBC Sports Philadelphia anchor/reporter Marshall Harris and producer/reporters Matt Haughton Paul Hudrick.

This week, we'll break down which Sixer has been the most impressive during training camp and preseason so far.

Harris
For me, it's Nik Stauskas. And there were others who were close (Kris Humphries comes to mind and it's completely unrelated to the boos). After two seasons with the Sixers, we know what Stauskas is. While his three-point percentage was up from 32.6 to 36.8 last season, his field-goal percentage still has never hit 40 percent in three seasons.

The Sixers signed JJ Redick, drafted Markelle Fultz, and welcomed a healthy Jerryd Bayless back into the fold. Compare Stauskas to those players (understanding that the Sixers traded up to acquire Fultz with the No. 1 pick) and the glaring weaknesses of Stauskas at shooting guard become even more evident.

A roster crunch is coming. Watching Stauskas go 2 for 11 from the field in two preseason games hasn't done anything to lead me to believe he's the answer to rounding out even the bottom of the roster.

Haughton
This is a joke, right? Seriously, this can’t be the real Kris Humphries.

The veteran big man has always been at least a serviceable body off the bench in the NBA, but those days may be over based on his play so far with the Sixers. 

In two preseason games with the team, Humphries has played 15 total minutes. He has managed to grab five rebounds in that time, which would be a solid amount if not for the numerous other boards grabbed as he was pushed aside by opponents. Then there is the offensive end where Humphries is 0 for 4 from the field (0 for 2 from three), has two turnovers and just generally looks lost.

It’s hard to explain when you think back that Humphries was just a contributor for a playoff team in the Atlanta Hawks, a squad that runs the same system as Brett Brown with fellow former Spurs assistant Mike Budenholzer as head coach.

Perhaps at 32 years old and 13 years into his NBA career, time has simply caught up with Humphries. If that’s the case, he will continue to hear boo birds from fans until he receives his pink slip.

Hudrick
Marshall and Matt sort of nailed it, so my pick is Fultz. I know, I know. It's really not fair after one preseason game, but that one game was a microcosm of Fultz's issues.

Fultz has always played the point and is used to having the ball in his hands. He has a long ways to go to learn the nuances of playing off the ball with Ben Simmons running the show. 

Defense. It was a concern at Washington. It's a concern after the first preseason game. 

The shot will come, but he's obviously reworking it. I trust Brown, who's helped several players improve their jumper, but it will certainly be a work in progress.

With all that said, he was the No. 1 overall pick for a reason. He's 19 years old. He showed flashes during the summer league and even against Memphis last week. I still believe Fultz becomes an elite offensive player in the NBA.

So don't panic, Sixers fans. All of this is to be expected for Fultz. It's a process.

You just have to trust it.

Joel Embiid has plenty of reasons to be thankful

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USA Today Images

Joel Embiid has plenty of reasons to be thankful

Joel Embiid is very appreciative. He is healthy, signed a mega-contract and has become the face of a franchise on the rise. 

The night before Thanksgiving, following a 20-point win over the Trail Blazers, Embiid reflected on why he is thankful.

“I’m thankful for my family,” Embiid, who grew up in Cameroon, said. “I live by myself, they don’t live here. But my mom is actually here.”

Embiid’s mother took in Wednesday’s action from courtside at the Wells Fargo Center and was all smiles as her son put up 28 points (11 for 19 shooting), 12 rebounds and two blocks in the 101-81 victory (see game recap).

Embiid also recognized the Sixers’ faithful, who have pulled for him during injury after injury and never wavered from their trust in the process.

“I’m thankful for the city of Philadelphia,” Embiid said. “This has become my home and I hope to be here for the rest of my career. I’m just thankful for the fans and just everybody around me, people that have been supporting me.” 

Embiid even gave a shoutout to the media, which doesn’t always happen, especially after a team struggled for so long.

“You guys hype me up so much,” he said. “So thank you.”

And last but not least, the player with 1.02 million followers on Twitter and another 1.4 million on Instagram, Embiid is grateful for every like and retweet. 

“I’m thankful for social media,” he said. 

#Fitting. #Thankful. #HappyThanksgiving 

Sixers use stifling defense to blow out Trail Blazers

Sixers use stifling defense to blow out Trail Blazers

BOX SCORE

The Sixers blew out the Trail Blazers by 20 points and reached the 10-win mark, their 2015-16 total, 17 games into the season (see observations)

Still, when Brett Brown assessed their 101-81 victory, he did so with a non-complacent eye. Not getting wrapped up in a win in November keeps the team even-keeled and focused. 

“I would give us an A on defense and like a C-minus on offense,” Brown said. “We’re happy with [the record], but we’ve got a lot of work to do.”

The Sixers held the Trail Blazers scoreless for the first seven minutes of the game (16-0) (see video). They notably restricted C.J. McCollum to only five points, 16 below his average. 

“I think we’re just very consistent on defense,” Ben Simmons said. 

Brown noticed room for improvement on the other end: committing less turnovers (18), finding Joel Embiid (28 points) more often, taking better-advised threes (3 for 11 in the first quarter) and minimizing possessions during which they didn’t get a shot attempt. Expect the team to focus on these areas so it doesn’t get ahead of itself for the next game on Saturday. 

“If you said you could have offense versus bad defense,” Brown said, “I would take the bad offense and have good defense any day of the week.” 

Embiid surpassing Thanksgiving milestone
Brown uses different points in the season as milestones. He eyed Thanksgiving as a checkpoint when it came to Embiid’s fitness level. Well, the holiday is here and Embiid has been averaging 32 minutes in his last five games. 

“He has exceeded my expectations to date kind of all over the place,” Brown said.

Embiid has been playing minute restriction-free. He has sat out only two games after appearing in 31 last season. Embiid is averaging 22.7 points, 11.0 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.9 blocks and 0.8 steals in 29 minutes per game. He delivered a monster block on Damian Lillard that nearly shot the ball out of the arena. 

“Not to be cocky, but I think I’m the best defensive player in the league right now,” Embiid said.

The big man projected his fitness level is at 81 percent with room to improve. 

“It’s not all the way there but I think it’s getting better,” Embiid said. “I’ve still got to work on a lot of things, but it’s getting there. I can’t wait to be at a hundred percent.”

“We-Want-Ok-A-For” 
With a 20-point lead and the game wrapped up, the Sixers' home crowd broke out into a chant. Only it wasn’t “Trust the Process.” It was “We want Okafor.” Brett Brown didn’t nudge out of consideration to Jahlil Okafor, who has appeared in two games this season. 

“I don’t think it’s fair,” Brown said. “I think you get into a playing rhythm, a playing routine and that’s fair. To just hoist somebody a little tiny window of minutes isn’t something that interests me. I say that out of respect to him. I don’t think that puts him in a position that I want to put him in.”

Okafor is out of the Sixers’ rotation and their future plans since the team declined to exercise his player option. Okafor has made it clear he wants to be traded or bought out so he can find an opportunity to play. 

Embiid heard the chants and would like his close friend to be the court too, but at the same time gets the team’s game plan at this point. 

“I just want what’s best for him,” Embiid said. “I think he’s really good offensively. Defensively I think he’s gotten so much better, even in rebounding. I think he deserves a chance. But it’s hard. It’s business. We’ve been playing so well and I understand the coaches and the front office want to keep the same lineup because we’ve been playing so well.”