5 reasons to stay glued to NBA draft after Sixers pick at No. 1

5 reasons to stay glued to NBA draft after Sixers pick at No. 1

It’s finally here. NBA draft night.

While you may think you know what the Sixers will do now that the team has moved up to No. 1 (select Markelle Fultz), that doesn’t mean there won’t be plenty of intrigue throughout the evening.

Here’s an outline of five reasons to keep your eyes glued on the Sixers and the league’s 29 other teams during the event.

Deep impact
Sure, the Sixers are likely to take Fultz. But this isn’t one of those drafts in which the talent tops out at the No. 1.

This is projected to be a very deep draft class with value well into the first round and some serious finds in the second.

“While Markelle Fultz is most experts' pick as the top player, the general consensus is there's no surefire superstar — Fultz included — in this class. Realistically, there are probably a dozen guys who could end up being All-NBA players,” CBS Sports’ Brad Botkin said.

While there will be All-Stars and maybe even some superstars to come out of this draft, there’s also a likelihood of a few busts.

Whether it’s the wrong fit, injuries or just a lack of skills to compete at the next level, several high draft picks are bound to be misses for the teams that select them.

That has particularly been the case at No. 2, as Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Abrams recently pointed out.

“(Kevin) Durant dethroned The King — LeBron James, that is — earlier this month, claiming a Finals MVP trophy to go with that elusive championship ring. But most No. 2 picks never ascend to such heights; in fact, over the past 20 years, only four have even become All-Stars,” Abrams said.


Movers and shakers
The draft picks are only half of the fun. Don’t forget about the trades.

The Sixers got the pre-draft moves started by pulling off their deal with the Celtics for the No. 1 overall pick. 

Things really started heating up after that. D’Angelo Russell, Brook Lopez and Dwight Howard have all been moved. And there have been 10 times as many rumored trades thrown around.

Don’t expect that to stop on draft night.

“The NBA Finals just ended, the draft hasn't started, free agency has yet to begin, and it feels as if the landscape has shifted noticeably,” ESPN’s J.A. Adande said. “Welcome to the new swap season.”

Legacies on the line
The players aren’t the only ones that can start making a name for themselves at the draft. Executives have plenty to gain and lose as well.

The right move and you’re untouchable in your city. The wrong decision, and … let’s just say you don’t want to make an incorrect choice.

With the fate of franchises in their hands, NBA execs have the power to alter the league’s landscape with a single deal.

Those transactions will stick with front-office members forever, as Yahoo! Sports’ Chris Mannix explained will be the case with Danny Ainge for sending the draft’s top pick to the Sixers instead of snagging Fultz.

“Legacies are defined by deals like this. Ainge’s will be, too,” Mannix said. “His executive career is now intertwined with Fultz’s playing one, forever linked. The gambling executive just placed his biggest bet, against a player few around the league would bet against.”

Dress for success
Of course, the draft isn’t all high drama.

There’s guaranteed to be plenty of smiles and tears of joy as young men realize their life-long dream of making it to the NBA.

There may also be a few laughs, potentially at the expense of a draft hopeful’s fashion faux pas.

“The fun part is sitting around with your friends and coworkers and playing fashion critic as a bunch of kids shake hands with the NBA commissioner in suits and shoes that are so outlandish that we occasionally ask ourselves how anyone allowed them to leave the boutique,” CBS Sports’ Kellen Becoats said.

Hornets sting Grizzlies to the tune of 61-point win

AP Images

Hornets sting Grizzlies to the tune of 61-point win

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Kemba Walker scored 46 points and made 10 3-pointers, and the Charlotte Hornets rolled to the most lopsided victory in franchise history by beating the Memphis Grizzlies 140-79 on Thursday night.

Walker had the ninth 40-point game of his career as the Hornets easily overcame the absence of the suspended Dwight Howard. The All-Star guard hit 13 of 18 shots overall, including 10 of 14 on 3-pointers, and was 10 of 10 on free throws in 28 minutes.

He scored 17 points in the first quarter, 18 in the second quarter and 11 in the third before he was replaced for the final time with 1:48 left in the period.

It came one night after Howard's 32-point, 30-rebound performance that helped Charlotte rally from a 23-point deficit for a 111-105 victory at Brooklyn. But in the process, Howard was whistled for his 16th technical foul of the season, meaning he had to serve a one-game suspension on Thursday night.

It didn't matter as the Hornets roared ahead 12-2 in the first 4 1/2 minutes, were ahead 37-14 after one quarter, 75-42 at halftime and by a game-high 65 points (137-72) with 1:45 left before taking the 61-point win.

Charlotte's largest previous win in franchise history came by 52 points (136-84) at home against Philadelphia on Feb. 27, 1992 (see full recap).

Harden shakes off struggles to give Rockets OT win
HOUSTON -- James Harden scored 21 points, including 10 of Houston's 12 points in overtime, to shake off a tough four quarters and lift the Rockets to a 100-96 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Thursday night.

After going 2 of 16 in regulation, including missing a shot that would have won it, Harden warmed up in overtime. He put Houston up with a basket early in the period before making it 93-90 on a three-point play after a basket by Andre Drummond. He added three free throws with about a minute left before P.J. Tucker's tip-in made it 98-90 with 21 seconds to play.

Blake Griffin, who finished with a triple-double, had a 3-pointer after that, but Harden made two more free throws to push the lead to seven. Harden missed both free throws after a 3-pointer by Ish Smith with 4.2 seconds left, but the Rockets held on to extend their winning streak to seven games.

It was an ugly game which featured 71 missed 3-pointers combined. Houston was 12 of 51 and Detroit made just 6 of 38.

Eric Gordon added 22 points for Houston on a night Chris Paul sat out with a sore left hamstring.

Griffin had 21 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. Drummond had 17 points and 20 rebounds (see full recap).

Kings beat Hawks amid protests outside arena
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Justin Jackson scored 11 of his season-high 20 points in the third quarter and the Sacramento Kings beat the Atlanta Hawks 105-90 on Thursday night in a game that was delayed due to protesters who were locked arm-in-arm surrounding entrances to Golden1 Center.

Jackson shot 7 of 8 and was perfect on four shots beyond the arc to help the Kings split the season series with the Hawks while avenging their worst loss of the season. Atlanta beat Sacramento 126-80 in November.

Buddy Hield and Frank Mason scored 16 points apiece, while Kosta Koufos added 14 points and 11 rebounds for the Kings.

A massive crowd shut down nearby freeways and gathered in the surrounding streets to protest the police shooting of Stephon Clark, an unarmed black man who was in the backyard of his grandparents' house Sunday night. According to reports, Clark was shot 20 times.

Only a few hundred fans made it into the Golden1 Center before police decided to not allow anyone else to enter. Several of those who did get in were allowed to move down into the lower bowl of the arena, leaving the upper deck empty.

With so few fans in attendance, the game often had the look and feel of a high school playoff.

The Kings led most of the way and pulled away in the second half behind Jackson and Hield, who scored 10 points in the fourth quarter.

Sixers have more in common with 08-09 Magic than they think

Sixers have more in common with 08-09 Magic than they think


The 2008-09 Eastern Conference champion Orlando Magic had a dominant big man, a 6-foot-10 forward who shared ball-handling duties and a three-point assassin acquired in free agency.

Sound familiar?

That year, JJ Redick was in his third season in Orlando with a front-row seat as the Magic shocked the NBA world by beating LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals.

“In theory maybe, but our style of play is completely different from [that team],” Redick said. “Like them, we’re building toward winning a championship for sure. But not a ton of similarities in terms of style. 

“Joel (Embiid) is a gifted scorer in the post, Ben (Simmons) is just sort of a unicorn. There haven’t been many players like him … ever … but if you look at us and any team in the East over the next three, five years, Boston, whoever LeBron plays for, Toronto … we’re positioned well to make a run. 

The Sixers beat Orlando, 118-98, Thursday night (see observations).

Even with a 21-point halftime lead, the 76ers didn’t let up. They held the Magic to 4 out of 23 from the field and extended the lead to 30 points by the end of the third quarter.

“I think that our third period was the thing I was most impressed with,” Brett Brown said. “We were able to maintain a sense of urgency and treat it as an opportunity … I think that was a statement period for our team.”

The Sixers can now clinch a playoff spot with a win over the Timberwolves on Saturday and are just one game behind the Cavs for the No. 3 seed in the East — exactly where Orlando began its run in ‘09.

Why not?

That’s the question the Sixers should be asking themselves. They’ve gone 16-5 after starting the season 25-25, and with seven of their last 11 games coming against teams with losing records, the Sixers have a realistic shot at the No. 3 seed.

Embiid has revived the role of a dominant center, averaging 23.4 points and 11.1 rebounds. Simmons has nine triple-doubles, the second most in the history of rookie seasons. Redick is shooting 41 percent from long range and averaging 16.6 points per game.

“After we got the fourth position, we wanted to come out and let everybody know that we were going for the home court,” Embiid said. “After this game, I decided we have a new goal: I want 50 wins. If we can do that, that would be great. We will be pushing for that.”

Sure, the Sixers lost their first eight games to Toronto, Boston and Cleveland earlier this season. But wouldn’t you know it, they’ve beaten all three of them since then.

Maybe this team is a year or two away, but why not dream big this year?