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.

Banged-up Markelle Fultz is latest chapter in Sixers' painful rookie history

Banged-up Markelle Fultz is latest chapter in Sixers' painful rookie history

CAMDEN, N.J. — Brett Brown has been here before. The scenario isn’t as drastic in the past, but it’s familiar nonetheless: starting the season with an injured rookie for the fifth straight year.

Markelle Fultz will begin his first NBA season dealing with ongoing right shoulder and right knee soreness. The No. 1 pick is expected to play on opening night Wednesday, but will come off the bench after appearing in only two preseason games. 

Brown has learned to manage this type of situation after years of experience. Nerlens Noel missed Brown’s entire first season because of an ACL injury. Joel Embiid sat out the following two seasons with foot injuries. Ben Simmons suffered a season-ending foot fracture in last year’s training camp. 

The biggest lesson? 

“To go slow,” Brown said. “To not put them in a position where it’s going to produce some difficult times.” 

Fultz was likely to be a starter when the Sixers traded up to draft him first overall in June. The 19-year-old guard hasn’t had that much experience since then thanks to injuries in both summer league and preseason. 

The Sixers face John Wall, Kyrie Irving and Kyle Lowry in the first three games alone. That would be a tall defensive task if Fultz were to start. 

“This league is driven by men, this league is driven by veterans,” Brown said. “To just put him in that environment is just, I think, poor coaching and I’m not doing it.”

Just as Simmons took advice from Embiid during his injury, he is offering words of wisdom to Fultz.

“[You’ve] got to to take your time and you definitely have to take care of your body,” Simmons said. “Put your body first. There’s no need to rush.”

The Sixers have the backcourt depth to adjust without Fultz in the starting lineup. They have been turning to veteran Jerryd Bayless at shooting guard alongside Simmons, their intended backcourt pairing last season. 

In the meantime, Brown will balance Fultz’s health, his growth as an NBA player, and the team’s success. 

“The end game needs to be developing Markelle Fultz," Brown said. 

Joel Embiid disappointed Brett Brown has him on another minutes limit

Joel Embiid disappointed Brett Brown has him on another minutes limit

CAMDEN, N.J. — Joel Embiid would like to play 48 minutes every game. The Sixers are looking at a maximum of 20 for opening night.

"I don't really know if there's a solid number," Brett Brown said Monday after practice. "I can tell if you were to choose a number, it's somewhere in the teens."

Embiid was hoping for more playing time on Wednesday against the Wizards, his first regular-season game since Jan. 27 (left knee surgery).

"I didn't know about that, but that's very disappointing," Embiid said Monday of the minutes restriction. "I feel great and hopefully that changes based on today's practice and tomorrow's practice."

The Sixers are being cautious with Embiid, who has both a lengthy history of injuries and a massive new contract extension. He clocked 15 minutes in both of his preseason games last week. Embiid felt he could have played twice as many minutes.

While the Sixers aren't ready to go as high as 30 minutes yet, they could exercise some wiggle room based on the flow of the game.

"There will be some minutes restrictions, but it's also a judgment of how is the game being played, not just looking at rote, rigid number," Brown said.

The NBA's new timeout rules could impact Embiid's playing time. The updated format changes include a decrease in the maximum number of timeouts allowed (18 to 14), 75-second team timeouts and fewer timeouts in the final minutes of the game. 

"One of the things that we're doing this year unlike previous years is there's a little bit of a looseness in relation to it doesn't have to be rigid if the game didn't dictate some track meet," Brown said. "This is like I'm coaching in the London Olympic Games again. The game moves. I can have guys at a scorers table for two minutes with no stoppage. So sometimes the torrid pace of a game doesn't favor Jo where you go flying up and down."

In addition to individual games, it remains to be seen if Embiid will be cleared this season for back-to-backs. The Sixers face their first set of consecutive games this Friday and Saturday against the Celtics at home and the Raptors in Toronto.