76ers

Fadool: Why De'Aaron Fox should be Sixers' pick at No. 3

Fadool: Why De'Aaron Fox should be Sixers' pick at No. 3

The process, as it is, was in full swing Tuesday night. As the Sixers and their fans watched the draft lottery envelopes open one by one, the dreams of two picks in the top five evaporated. But, fear not, because that pick-swap did occur. 

The Sixers should have had the fifth overall selection in next month's draft, but thanks to Sam Hinkie's machinations, that was swapped out for the Sacramento Kings' actual selection spot, third overall. 

What to do with that third selection in the NBA draft? 

That's the big question that will be asked until June 22. There will be arguments, as there usually are with drafts, whether to take best player available or take a player that might best fit the system. And both sides will have valid reasoning behind their selection. But for me, it's the best player available. I think there is more risk in taking a player who might best fit your system, or who you perceive to fit best. And right now, I don't think the Sixers are in a position to take risks. 

So with that said, here's why I like De'Aaron Fox for the Sixers at No. 3. 

Now, I know some aren't surprised I'm here to talk about a Kentucky guard. But you might be surprised to see that it's Fox on my radar and not my favorite player from the latest crop of one-and-dones: Malik Monk. Yes, I watched more Kentucky basketball than other teams. But I also watched it critically, as anyone who's been within five feet of me during a UK basketball game can attest. 

Fox is the player who improved the most this season. In Kentucky's last 14 games, 13 of which they won, he shot nearly 48 percent from the field. He is the fastest player in the draft, end to end, and has shown that he can do more than just slash his way to the basket. He's one of the better defenders out there. One of the reasons his draft stock shot up was people got a look at Fox in tournament competition, both conference and NCAA. Those are crunch-time opportunities. 

His draft stock went way up when he went toe-to-toe with Lonzo Ball, presumedly the No. 2 overall selection, not once but twice. Fox put forth a great defensive effort to hold Ball to 14 and 10 points, respectively, in those two meetings. 

And who could forget Fox's 39 points in the tournament win over UCLA?

So here's where the dilemma comes in. Fox is a point guard who needs the ball in his hands. Simmons is the Sixers' point-forward. There is only one basketball to go around. But if Simmons is at the point on offense to distribute, is he then guarding point guards on the defensive end? I don't see how that can work. And that's not a knock on Simmons. That's the issue with having a point-forward. You can't expect Simmons to stay in front of Isaiah Thomas, John Wall or Kyrie Irving. But Fox can be expected to do that. Also, Fox is an unselfish player, so I think he can learn to play off the ball a bit on the offensive end. 

Fox's slashing ability would be such a positive for a Sixers team that wants to push the pace in games. And his shot will come. There was once a guard out of Kentucky that many said had a terrible shot and was only speed. That guy was John Wall. So take that for what you will. 

Select the best player available or address a need? 

I think the Sixers can do both with Fox.  

Sixers take ugly turn for the worse

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AP Images

Sixers take ugly turn for the worse

BOX SCORE

For three quarters, it looked like Monday night was going to be all about Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot. Then the Grizzlies stormed back to beat the Sixers, 105-101, rendering Luwawu-Cabarrot’s season-high 20 points worthless.

The Sixers led for most of the game and were up by as many as 15 points, 83-68, with 59 seconds left in the third quarter. Then the Grizzlies went on a 35-15 run, fueled by their stars, Marc Gasol and Tyreke Evans, and by the Sixers’ sloppy play.

The loss to the 17-29 Grizzlies puts the Sixers at 22-21 on the season and snaps a three-game winning streak.

Memphis nearly gifted the Sixers the victory with several key mistakes of its own. With the Grizzlies leading, 103-100, Ben Simmons took a charge on Jarell Martin. Joel Embiid then drew a foul with 15.8 seconds left, and made one of two free throws.

After Embiid made the second free throw, Evans dribbled into a trap and Robert Covington forced a steal. With the Sixers out of timeouts, Covington made an ill-advised decision to take a quick, contested three-pointer, which he air-balled. Mario Chalmers made two free throws to ice it for the Grizzlies.

• For someone who entered the game shooting just 31.9 percent from long range, Luwawu-Cabarrot had an incredible night. He hit a three from the right corner on the game’s first possession, then swished one from the left corner a couple minutes later. Though Luwawu-Cabarrot picked up two early fouls, Sixers coach Brett Brown rode the hot hand and turned back to the Frenchman late in the first quarter to spell Simmons. He rewarded the decision with his third three-pointer, this one from the top of the key, to put the Sixers up 20-11.

• Dario Saric also had a good offensive night, with 22 points on 7 of 11 shooting, though he had a couple costly late turnovers. More on that later …

• Luwawu-Cabarrot started for the second straight game because Jerryd Bayless remained out with left wrist soreness. Bayless was supposed to be the starter at shooting guard in JJ Redick’s absence, but Luwawu-Cabarrot has played better than anyone could have expected as the third-choice starter.

• Trailing, 36-22, early in the second quarter, the Grizzlies trimmed the Sixers' lead down to 52-49 thanks to Gasol’s offense and a couple sloppy Sixers turnovers that led to easy transition buckets.

• Simmons was guarded by fellow rookie Dillon Brooks. At 6-6, 220 pounds, Brooks is bigger and more physical than many of the point guards who have defended Simmons. When Brooks was out, the Sixers looked to post Simmons up against Chalmers, Wayne Selden and the Grizzlies’ backup guards. Simmons had a quiet offensive night, with six points on 3 for 8 shooting from the field.

• Selden was ejected under unusual circumstances with 4:27 left in the third period. Selden tried to throw down a vicious dunk on Justin Anderson, and Anderson fouled him. The Grizzlies' guard then started talking trash to Anderson, and the officials called Selden for his second technical foul of the game, which results in an automatic ejection. Though Anderson’s foul looked pretty tame, he was whistled for a Flagrant One foul after video review.

• With Mike Conley (left Achilles heel), JaMychal Green (right ankle) and Chandler Parsons (right knee/abdominal injuries) all sidelined, the Grizzlies' offense revolved around Gasol and Evans during the game-defining run. Evans’ three tied the game at 91-91, and his free throw on the ensuing trip gave Memphis its first lead. After the teams traded the lead for the next few minutes, Gasol nailed a three from the left wing to give the Grizzlies a 98-95 edge, and Evans hit a step-back jumper to extend the lead to 100-95.

• Embiid had a rare off night. Embiid was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week Monday for the period between Jan. 15-21. The big man was forced to sit most of the third quarter after picking up his fourth foul. Embiid and the three-time All-Star Gasol went head to head multiple times in the final minutes. Embiid ended up with 15 points and 14 rebounds on 5 for 13 shooting from the field and 5 of 9 shooting from the free throw line, while Gasol had 19 points and six rebounds.

• Turnovers hurt the Sixers again, especially in crunch time, and were a big reason why the Grizzlies got back into the game. It’s hard to win a game with a 24-12 turnover disadvantage. 

• Though he was available to play, Richaun Holmes stayed on the bench for the second straight game. Holmes was out last Monday against Toronto and Thursday versus Boston with gastroenteritis.

• The Sixers return home to play the Bulls on Wednesday. Chicago won, 117-115, on Dec. 18 the last time the two teams met, despite a season-high 27 points from Saric.

Sixers rearrange schedule because of Eagles fever

Sixers rearrange schedule because of Eagles fever

The Sixers coordinated their flight to Memphis with an important schedule in mind: get there in time Sunday to watch the Eagles' NFC Championship Game.

Once there, they have arranged a room with food to catch the 6:40 p.m. showdown as a team the night before they face the Grizzlies.

“We’re going to enjoy this with the city of Philadelphia,” Brett Brown said. “Stuff like this doesn’t come around very often. So on behalf of our team, we say, like the rest of the city: Go Eagles.”

The Sixers and Eagles have been showing their support for each other all season by attending games. Joel Embiid, in particular, has been a familiar face at Lincoln Financial Field, including this memorable reaction to Jake Elliott’s field goal in September.

Embiid noted the momentum of both the Eagles and Sixers this season and what it means for Philadelphia.

“Every time I go to an Eagles game, they always win,” Embiid said. “I’m going to be pulling for them. I want to say good luck. It would be good for the city … Hopefully, they win and on to the Super Bowl.”

Justin Anderson’s support of the Eagles goes beyond playing in the same city. His friendships with Torrey Smith, Rodney McLeod and Chris Long began before the NBA (see story).

“I talked to them and they were really excited,” Anderson said. “They think they’ve got a really good chance. It’d be huge for the city. Going to the Super Bowl, it’d be good. I’m excited, I’m excited. I hope they pull this one out.”

The Sixers will watch the Eagles fight through the postseason as they hope to be doing in April too. They ultimately have the same goal and have an appreciation for how far the Eagles have come already.

“I hope they win it all,” Ben Simmons said. “I’m an Eagles fan now.”