76ers

The case for Oregon's Dillon Brooks as a Sixers' 2nd-round pick

The case for Oregon's Dillon Brooks as a Sixers' 2nd-round pick

Over the weeks leading up to the 2017 NBA draft, we'll be making cases for the Sixers to draft several prospects. Our series will kick off with options at No. 3 (or trade downs) followed by second-round possibilities. The 2017 NBA draft will take place on June 22 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.

Dillon Brooks
Position: SF
School: Oregon
Height: 6-6
Weight: 215
Wingspan: 6-6

When writing a list of the Sixers’ flaws, the inability to consistently knock down shots has to be near the top.

Enter Dillon Brooks.

Brooks improved every season at Oregon. He averaged 16.1 points per game in 2016-17 to help lead the Ducks to their first Final Four since 1939. That effort was also good enough to earn Pac-12 Player of the Year and second-team All-American honors.

Already with the build of an NBA wing and the skill to pour in shots from just about anywhere on the court, Brooks should provide good value for a team in the second round.

The case for Brooks
If the NBA Finals were any proof, shot making is at a premium in the league right now.

Brooks didn’t start off as a sharpshooter at Oregon, but the Canadian put in the work to get better. He shot 45.6, 47.0 and 48.8 percent from the field during his three collegiate seasons. Brooks’ improvement was even better from behind the arc, where he shot 33.7, 33.8 and 40.1 percent over the past three years.

Brooks is naturally aggressive on the offensive end and hunts for his shots in the paint, from midrange and beyond the arc. That only becomes even more evident with the game on the line as the 21-year-old has developed a reputation for being a clutch performer.

Brooks’ fiery nature and desire to compete shine through on the floor and are assets that any coach loves to see in a player.

The case against Brooks
Unfortunately for Brooks, that same competitive spirit didn’t always shine through on the defensive side of the ball. Too often he was witnessed only putting forth energy on D against big-time opponents while taking it easy against lesser competition. That lack of focus is not a good combination when you’re already at a disadvantage in regards to lateral quickness.

Additionally, Brooks’ height and full frame didn’t help him on the boards. He averaged a career-low 3.2 rebounds as a junior. And while some of that had to do with rebounding machine and fellow draft hopeful, Jordan Bell, gobbling up the missed shots, that’s not enough reason for Brooks to be virtually nonexistent in that area.

Analysis
Brooks’ skill set offensively is something other draft hopefuls wish they could mimic. He uses his size to get inside and finish around the rim while still being able to convert from the midrange and long distance.

There are questions about his commitment on defense, but he does possess the body and general intensity to improve on that end.

With Robert Covington’s becoming an unrestricted free agent after the 2017-18 season, Brooks has the potential to slide into that role as the three-point threat on a team in desperate need of shooting.

Best of NBA: Pelicans hold off late Lakers rally for 1st win

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Best of NBA: Pelicans hold off late Lakers rally for 1st win

LOS ANGELES -- Anthony Davis scored 27 points, DeMarcus Cousins had 20 and the New Orleans Pelicans withstood a furious rally to beat the Los Angeles Lakers 119-112 on Sunday night for their first victory of the season.

The Pelicans led by 22 points in the second quarter and were still up by double figures heading into the final period, but the Lakers made a charge despite a poor shooting night from rookie Lonzo Ball.

Reserve Jordan Clarkson had 24 points for the Lakers, but Ball shot just 3 for 13 for eight points. He did have 13 assists and eight rebounds.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope started and scored 20 points in his first appearance for the Lakers. Rookie Kyle Kuzma also had 20.

E'Twaun Moore, who went 0 for 5 in his last game, added 19 points for the Pelicans (1-2), while Jrue Holiday and Ian Clark each had 14 (see full recap).

Wiggins' heave banks in, leads Timberwolves past Thunder
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Andrew Wiggins' 3-pointer from a few steps inside halfcourt banked in as time expired to give the Minnesota Timberwolves a 115-113 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday night.

Oklahoma City's Carmelo Anthony had hit a 3-pointer with 5.1 seconds left to give the Thunder the lead before the Timberwolves inbounded to Wiggins, who rushed up the court and got free with help from a crushing pick by Karl-Anthony Towns before pulling up for the winner.

Wiggins scored 27 points and Towns had 27 points and 12 rebounds for Minnesota (2-1).

Russell Westbrook scored 15 of his 31 points in the fourth quarter for the Thunder, who were coming off a loss at Utah on Saturday night. Anthony scored 23 points and Paul George scored 14 points on 6-for-20 shooting. Steven Adams had 17 points and 13 rebounds for the Thunder (see full recap).

Allen Crabbe scored 20 points, Nets beat Hawks
NEW YORK -- Allen Crabbe scored 20 points, DeMarre Carroll had 17 and the Brooklyn Nets beat the Atlanta Hawks 116-104 on Sunday.

Caris LeVert and D'Angelo Russell each had 16 points to help the Nets improve to 2-1 with their second straight victory.

Marco Belinelli had 19 points for Atlanta. The Hawks have lost two in a row to drop to 1-2.

Atlanta point guard Dennis Schroeder went down with an apparent ankle injury with 3:37 left and had to be helped off the court.

Brooklyn found a way to win once again without Jeremy Lin, who was lost for the season on opening night with a knee injury, holding off the Hawks after leading by 16 points late in the third (see full recap).

Winless Suns fire head coach Earl Watson

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Winless Suns fire head coach Earl Watson

PHOENIX — The Phoenix Suns have fired coach Earl Watson just three games in to the NBA season.

The Suns announced the firing Sunday night after hours of meetings at the team's headquarters.

Assistant coach Jay Triano, a former head coach of the Toronto Raptors, was named interim coach. Triano was an assistant at Portland before coming to Phoenix last year.

Watson was promoted from assistant to interim coach of the Suns after Jeff Hornacek was fired Feb. 1, 2016. The interim tag was removed on April 19 of that year. With an extremely young team, the Suns struggled under Watson. He compiled a 33-85 record. Watson's only full season was 2016-17, when the team went 24-58.

The 38-year-old Watson played collegiately at UCLA and in the NBA for 10 seasons. He often spoke of his long talks with John Wooden, emphasized togetherness and a family atmosphere to nurture the young squad but wins were hard to come by.

And owner Robert Sarver apparently didn't like what he saw. Phoenix is 0-3 and two of the losses were especially ugly. The Suns were blown out 124-76 by the Portland in their season opener Wednesday night, the most one-sided loss in franchise history and the most one-sided season opener for any NBA team.

Phoenix was routed by the Clippers in Los Angeles 130-88 on Saturday night.

"I Dont wanna be here," point guard Eric Bledsoe tweeted Sunday, just as the news of Watson's firing surfaced in an ESPN report. The tweet by Bledsoe, a former Clipper, was followed by one from the Clippers' DeAndre Jordan saying "Come back home bro."

Bledsoe has been rumored in possible trades for months.

Watson's dismissal is the first NBA coaching change in well over a year. Hornacek's hiring by the New York Knicks, which was finalized in June 2016, had been the most recent change -- and the irony there is that Watson got the job in Phoenix with 33 games left in the 2015-16 season, after the Suns fired Hornacek.

Watson was the league's second-youngest active coach behind the Lakers' Luke Walton, and the Suns were tied with the Chicago Bulls as having the youngest opening-night roster in the NBA this season.

"I'd like to see the fight be a little bit more," Watson said after the blowout loss to the Clippers. "Or a lot more, until you know they're just fatigued."

The Suns came into this season with only four losses by 40 or more points in franchise history. They've had two in the first three games of this season. Phoenix has not made the playoffs in seven years, the longest drought in the franchise's 49-year history.

Watson was the 17th Suns coach in the franchise's history.

This was the first NBA season where every coach who started one year had the same job to begin the next.