Will Ben Simmons be an All-Star?

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Will Ben Simmons be an All-Star?

Ben Simmons has made a strong All-Star push over his last three games (all Sixers wins) heading to London. I don't think he'll make it, even though he should make it as long as he continues playing the way he has lately. 

In wins over the Suns, Spurs and Pistons, he averaged 22.0 points (57.1 percent field goals, 18 for 27 free throws), 6.0 rebounds, 6.3 assists, 2.7 steals and 2.0 blocks. 

The problem is there are only six available spots for guards (two starting guard spots, two reserve guard spots, and two wild-card spots). Kyrie Irving, DeMar DeRozan, Victor Oladipo, Bradley Beal and John Wall are all perceived locks. That leaves one spot for Simmons and all the frontcourt players not named LeBron, Giannis and JoJo, who will be the likely starters. 

The reserves call is strictly on the coaches and it's hard to picture them leaving Kristaps Porzingis, Kevin Love and Andre Drummond off the team as the backup bigs. The result? One wild-card spot for Simmons, Al Horford, Khris Middleton or someone else.

It's one of the topics we tackle this week on Holding Court. We hit you with a New Year/New Sixers edition of the podcast (because it's definitely not New Year/New Us). Amy Fadool and I discuss a myriad of topics including why Simmons' All-Star chances will probably require an abacus, the only month Amy recognizes from a season ago, and how LaVar Ball is (still) polarizing (and relevant?) even though he's not even in the country.

1:40 — We talk January, looking back at 2017 and the present version a year later through Brett Brown's eyes.

2:55 — What the Sixers are focusing on right now (it's all about defense but a bit more specific than you might think).

3:48 — On Joel Embiid and when he might attempt to play the first back-to-back of his NBA career.

4:41 — That schedule, though ... four straight games against teams in playoff position.

6:24 — Amy explains that the Pistons may have been sluggish in the Sixers' blowout win because of their whereabouts the night before.

7:17 — Simmons is playing the best basketball of his NBA career and the Sixers are winning. Not a coincidence.

9:00 — All-Star voting and why Simmons should be in but probably won't.

14:57 — You don't want to hear about Paul Millsap ... but a Millsap-ian player could be the difference between Ben making it or not.

15:33 — There will be no better platform to get the All-Star votes up than Thursday's London game.

16:00 — Talk to LaVar Ball and you might get your NBA credentials snatched.

17:30 — Mandatory Golden State Warriors mention.

18:30 — Amy and Marshall disagree on how to handle LaVar.

20:08 — Blake Griffin is dating a Kardashian?

Former Sixers guard named HOF finalist

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Former Sixers guard named HOF finalist

Former Sixers player and head coach Maurice Cheeks on Saturday was named a finalist for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Other candidates include Grant Hill, Steve Nash, Jason Kidd and former Sixer Chris Webber.

Cheeks, a four-time All-Star point guard and member of the 1982-83 championship team, spent 10 seasons with the Sixers before stints with the San Antonio Spurs, New York Knicks, Atlanta Hawks and New Jersey Nets. He averaged 12.2 points, 7.3 assists and 2.3 steals a night in 853 career games. Cheeks ranks in the top-five in NBA history in both assists (7,392) and steals (2,310). He was also voted to the NBA All-Defensive team five times.

Currently an assistant with the Oklahoma City Thunder, Cheeks was the Sixers' head coach from 2005-2008, but was fired after a slow start to the 2008-09 season. He was also the head coach of the Portland Trail Blazers and Detroit Pistons. He has a 305-315 career record and has made the postseason three times in nine seasons.

Sixers show they're ready to take over the world

Sixers show they're ready to take over the world

LOS ANGELES — The Sixers made their mark among the NBA’s top young talent on a global scale.

Joel Embiid (Cameroon), Ben Simmons (Australia) and Dario Saric (Croatia) all started for Team World Friday in the Mtn Dew Kickstart Rising Stars game. They helped kick off All-Star weekend with a 155-124 victory over Team USA. 

Simmons recorded a double-double, which is becoming clockwork for the point guard (22 in the regular season, six triple-doubles). He posted 11 points off a perfect 5 for 5 from the field and 1 for 1 from the line. Simmons added 13 assists, six boards and four steals. 

This game was, in a way, a double statement for Simmons. It was an an opportunity to make a case for Rookie of the Year, with fellow contender Donovan Mitchell competing on Team USA. Mitchell notched seven points (3 for 10 from the field, 1 for 6 from three), seven assists, two rebounds, five steals and two blocks.

The Rising Stars contest also was a chance for Simmons to start an early bid for the 2019 All-Star team. He was popular among the fan votes but was not selected as one of four replacements required because of injuries. 

Simmons projects he will be playing in the All-Star Game “hopefully next year.” When it came down to why he was not on this season’s list, Simmons replied, “I think just votes.” 

Saric continued his offensive momentum with 18 points, including 4 for 7 shooting from three. He has scored in double digits in his last 35 games leading into the All-Star break. Saric also grabbed three rebounds and dished five assists. 

“I’ve always got the wish or dream in my life one day to be part of something big like this, even if it’s the Rising Stars game,” Saric said of participating in All-Star weekend. “I think it makes my family proud, my friends from my hometown, or all the people who were around me during my [growth as] a basketball player.”

Embiid logged the least playing time of the Sixers’ trio as he prepares to compete in the Taco Bell Skills Challenge Saturday and start in the All-Star Game Sunday. He missed the Sixers’ last game on Wednesday because of right ankle soreness. Embiid scored five points and two rebounds in less than nine minutes. 

“On Sunday, I expect to go harder,” Embiid said (see story). “I’m going for that MVP. Guys better make sure they find me because I’m looking to have a good game.”

Not listed on the box score: Embiid and Simmons going 2 for 2 as roving reporters. Check out their journalistic skills when they got the mic Friday to interview each other (see video).