76ers

Kane's NBA mock draft 1.0: What do Sixers do at No. 3?

Kane's NBA mock draft 1.0: What do Sixers do at No. 3?

The 76ers secured a top-three pick for the fourth straight year in Tuesday's NBA Draft Lottery. They will pick third overall for the third time during that four-year span courtesy of the pick swap that former GM Sam Hinkie engineered in a 2015 trade with the Kings. 

The downside of picking third is that top tier guards Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball will almost certainly come off the board with the first two picks. However, there will be plenty of All-Star level prospects remaining for the Sixers to choose from. 

With the top two picks all but locked in, you could argue that the draft actually starts when the 76ers go on the clock.

1. Boston Celtics - Markelle Fultz, guard, Washington (6-4/195)
Not a bad couple of days for Danny Ainge and the Celtics, who won the draft lottery Tuesday and will host the Cavaliers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Wednesday. Boston shouldn't overthink this one — Fultz is easily the top prospect in this year's draft thanks to an offensive skill set that is tailor-made for today's NBA. The Celtics will pair him with Isaiah Thomas in the backcourt and compete for championships for the foreseeable future.   

2. Los Angeles Lakers - Lonzo Ball, guard, UCLA (6-6/190)
The Lakers lucked out by keeping their top-3 protected pick and the reward will be Ball, a playmaking point guard who is poised to be the next in a long line of Laker superstars. Ball has terrific size and is the best passer in the draft — his skills are comparable to Jason Kidd's and the man who will draft him, Magic Johnson. The only potential drawbacks are a funky jump shot and his meddlesome father, LaVar. 

3. Philadelphia 76ers - Josh Jackson, forward, Kansas (6-8/210)
Bryan Colangelo and the 76ers' brass will ultimately decide between three players here: Jackson, Duke's Jayson Tatum and Kentucky's Malik Monk.

I would take Tatum — I think he'll end up being the best player of the three. Monk's elite shooting makes him the best fit to play alongside Ben Simmons. But in the end, the Sixers will be swayed by Jackson's athleticism, defensive ability and overall potential. He comes with his share of question marks (including a few off the court) but there is no denying he has superstar potential. Jackson reminds me of Tracy McGrady, and pairing that type of talent with Simmons, Joel Embiid and Dario Saric is too enticing to pass up. 

4. Phoenix Suns - Jayson Tatum, forward, Duke (6-8/205)
Tatum represents tremendous value for the Suns with the fourth pick. I've been a big fan of his since his days as a high school standout in St. Louis and he made significant strides during his one season at Duke, particularly with his jump shot. Tatum will team up with Devin Booker to give the Suns an explosive 1-2 punch.   

5. Sacramento Kings - De'Aaron Fox, guard, Kentucky (6-3/170) 
Fox is a blur, hands down the fastest player in this draft. His stock soared during the NCAA Tournament after he outplayed Ball in Kentucky's win over UCLA in the Sweet 16. Fox gets to the basket whenever he wants but needs to improve his inconsistent outside jumper. If he does, he has the potential to eventually become one of the top five point guards in the NBA. 

6. Orlando Magic - Malik Monk, guard, Kentucky (6-3/200)
An exciting few minutes for John Calipari mugging for the cameras in the green room as Kentucky prospects go back-to-back. The Magic will be very fortunate to grab Monk with the sixth pick; he could go as high as third to the Sixers. He's the best shooter in the draft and will provide instant offense to a Magic team that could certainly use it. 

7. Minnesota Timberwolves - Jonathan Isaac, forward, Florida State (6-10/215)
I'm not as high on Isaac as others but he's worth the gamble here for Minnesota. Isaac's big selling point is his defensive versatility — he's able to guard multiple positions on the perimeter and in the post. His offensive consistency concerns me but it shouldn't concern Minnesota too much with Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins already on the roster.

8. New York Knicks - Dennis Smith, guard, NC State (6-3/195)
Smith is in the mold of Russell Westbrook — an aggressive, explosive guard who won't back down to anyone. He gives Knicks fans something to get excited about and head coach Jeff Hornacek an enticing perimeter piece to pair with budding superstar forward Kristaps Porzingis.

9. Dallas Mavericks - Lauri Markkanen, forward, Arizona (7-0/230)
With Dirk Nowitzki entering his 20th season, the Mavericks select a player in Markkanen who shares a lot of the traits Nowitzki had when he entered the league. Markkanen is an elite shooter for a 7-footer but is inexperienced and has plenty to learn. Who better to teach him than a Hall of Famer who just scored his 30,000th point last season?

10. Sacramento Kings - Zach Collins, forward, Gonzaga (6-11/230)
The Kings address the frontcourt with their second pick in the Top 10. Collins helped himself tremendously during Gonzaga's run to the National Championship Game. He's very skilled offensively and competes on the defensive end. 

11. Charlotte Hornets - Justin Patton, forward, Creighton (6-11/230)
Patton is a lottery pick based on raw athletic ability and upside. He might not contribute immediately but has the potential to be a game-changing big man on both ends of the floor. Patton only scratched the surface during his one season at Creighton.

12. Detroit Pistons - Frank Ntilikina, guard, France (6-5/190)
The Pistons could use a long-term answer at the point guard position and they find it here in Ntilikina, a rangy prospect with the ability to become a lockdown defender. His offensive skills need polishing.

13. Denver Nuggets - Harry Giles, forward, Duke (6-10/230)
Two years ago, Giles was a frontrunner to be the first pick in this draft. But a knee injury cost him his senior season of high school and he struggled to return to top form at Duke. But the skills that once made him an elite prospect remain. Giles just needs to get (and stay) healthy.  

14. Miami Heat - John Collins, forward, Wake Forest (6-9/225)
Collins was one of the most reliable and productive players in all of college basketball last season. He is a natural scorer in the low post and should help fill the void left by Chris Bosh on the Miami frontline. 

15. Portland Trail Blazers - Jarrett Allen, center, Texas (6-10/235)
Allen fits the bill in terms of what NBA teams look for in a big man — he scores in a variety of ways and protects the rim defensively. He put up solid numbers as a freshman at Texas and down the road he will provide balance for a Portland team that relies primarily on its backcourt. 

16. Chicago Bulls - Bam Adebayo, forward, Kentucky (6-10/245)
Adebayo made strides last season at Kentucky but he still as a long way to go before he can be counted on as a consistent offensive performer. But his size, defensive presence and rebounding ability make him a good fit for the Bulls. 

17. Milwaukee Bucks - Donovan Mitchell, guard, Louisville (6-2/210)
Mitchell is an elite athlete who was one of the best perimeter players in the country as a sophomore at Louisville. He was more of a combo guard in college but will be asked to play point guard in the NBA. That transition will take some time.  

18. Indiana Pacers - OG Anunoby, forward, Indiana (6-7/230)
Like a lot of players in this draft, Anunoby is billed as a defense-first prospect. So much so that a few Kawhi Leonard comparisons have already surfaced. I'm not ready to go there, but Anunoby certainly has the potential to develop into an elite defender.

19. Atlanta Hawks - T.J. Leaf, forward, UCLA (6-10/225)
Leaf has outstanding scoring skills for a big man and he displayed that offensive versatility last season at UCLA. He has a high basketball IQ, which helps compensate for his lack of elite athleticism. Leaf will fit in well with how the Hawks like to play under head coach Mike Budenholzer.

20. Portland Trail Blazers - Justin Jackson, forward, North Carolina (6-8/200)
Jackson capped his college career with a NCAA championship and ACC Player of the Year award at North Carolina. His versatility should serve him well at the pro level — he shoots consistently from the perimeter and drives to the basket effectively. 

21. Oklahoma City Thunder - Luke Kennard, guard, Duke (6-6/195)
Kennard had a breakthrough season at Duke that significantly elevated his status as a NBA prospect. He is an elite shooter with range well beyond the three-point arc. His spot-up shooting would be a great asset for a Thunder team built around Russell Westbrook.

22. Brooklyn Nets - Terrance Ferguson, guard, Australia (6-7/190)
Ferguson enters the draft by way of Australia, where he played professionally last year as an 18-year-old. He remains very raw but should have plenty of time to develop during the Nets' rebuilding period. 

23. Toronto Raptors - Ivan Rabb, forward, California (6-10/220)
Rabb arrived at California two years ago billed as a future NBA star but didn't do a whole lot to enhance his draft status during his college career. He'll need to improve a great deal on both ends of the floor but is worth a flier here for the Raptors, who need help inside.

24. Utah Jazz - Tyler Lydon, forward, Syracuse (6-9/215)
Lydon was very impressive at Syracuse. He's an intelligent player with a very dependable jump shot. His athleticism and defensive ability are question marks. He's far from a lock to be selected in the first round but could thrive in the right situation. 

25. Orlando Magic - Caleb Swanigan, forward, Purdue (6-9/250)
I'm higher on Swanigan's NBA potential than most. He was one of the best players in college basketball last season and has a very well-rounded offensive game. All the concerns center around his defensive ability. I view him as a winning player capable of helping Orlando immediately.

26. Portland Trail Blazers - Hamidou Diallo, guard, Kentucky (6-5/200)
Diallo enrolled at Kentucky early and may leave the school without ever playing a game. He has the elite athleticism that NBA talent evaluators covet but his offensive skills, particularly his jump shot, are a long way from being pro-ready. He's worth the risk for Portland and would be able to learn from two of the best guards in the league in Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum.

27. Brooklyn Nets - Ike Anigbogu, center, UCLA (6-10/250)
I view Anigbogu as a major project, but he's the type of player who could pay major dividends down the road for a Nets team that isn't in a hurry to contend. He didn't produce much offensively at UCLA but his defensive potential is his biggest asset.

28. Los Angeles Lakers - Jordan Bell, forward, Oregon (6-9/225)
Bell is a lot like Jonathan Isaac in that his biggest contribution will be the ability to guard multiple positions at the pro level. He always plays hard and has NBA-caliber athleticism. Bell could end up being a steal for the Lakers this low in the first round. 

29. San Antonio Spurs - Josh Hart, guard, Villanova (6-6/215)
Hart isn't showing up in the first round in most mock drafts but I'm convinced he's first-round worthy after watching every game he played during his four years at Villanova. He is a winning player who can guard multiple positions on the perimeter. He scores in a number of ways and has an effective, if not natural looking, jump shot. The best-case scenario is a winning team like the Spurs drafting him and molding him into their program. He's exactly the type of overlooked prospect that San Antonio banks on finding late in the first round. 

30. Utah Jazz - Rodionis Kurucs, forward, Latvia (6-8/200)
What would the first round be without one draft-and-stash prospect? Kurcus is an offensively gifted wing who appears to be a good fit in Utah's preferred style of offense.

Young Sixers learn crucial lessons from 2 losses to NBA elite Warriors

Young Sixers learn crucial lessons from 2 losses to NBA elite Warriors

BOX SCORE

The Sixers received a crash course in top-caliber NBA basketball from the Warriors with two games in eight nights against the defending champions. 

Both were winnable games for the Sixers in the first half. Both were blown open by the Warriors in the third quarter. Both resulted in a Sixers loss.

This time, it was a 124-116 loss Saturday night at the Wells Fargo Center (see observations).

Instead of taking silver linings and pats on the back, the Sixers are absorbing lessons, tried-and-true experience-based lessons from competing against the best in the league and watching it slip away. 

“They didn’t flip a switch,” Joel Embiid said Saturday. “We were just bad in the third quarter. But you’ve got to give them a lot of credit. They were aggressive and they were physical with us, especially in the second half. They did what they had to do, and they got a win.”

Protect the third quarter
On Saturday, the Sixers scored a scorching 47 points in the first quarter and led the Warriors 74-52 at halftime. That edge far surpassed their one-point deficit in last weekend’s game and put them on a commanding path at home.

The Warriors quickly dashed any hopes of an upset by outscoring the Sixers, 47-15, in the third. Steph Curry scored 20 of those points. That quarter set the tone for a Warriors' comeback win. Similarly, the Warriors outscored the Sixers by 15 points in the third during their 135-114 victory on Nov. 11.

“After coming out of halftime, we knew what we were getting into,” Embiid said. “We knew that the first game, we knew that tonight, that needed to stay locked in. We didn’t do a good job the first time and then the second time we definitely didn’t do a good job.”

Play aggressive and smart at same time
The Sixers committed seven of their 12 turnovers in the third, which led to 14 of the Warriors’ 47 points. Ben Simmons echoed Embiid’s opinion of needing to be more focused. The rookie point guard also noted the Sixers should have been better with defensive assignments and played more aggressively. The Sixers shot 1 for 7 from long-range and didn’t get to the foul line once in the third.

Simmons only attempted one field goal in the quarter. Brett Brown noted he played Simmons the entire second quarter and the first eight minutes in the third. The combination of a shorthanded eight-man rotation and the effects of coming off a West Coast road trip factored in. 

The Warriors, meanwhile, stayed cool and collected in the face of a 22-point halftime deficit. They bounced back to shoot 62.2 percent from the field in the second half. The Sixers noticed the Warriors’ unwavering self-assurance even as they fell further and further behind in the first half.

“There’s a confidence that they have in what they do and who they are that over the course of a full game," JJ Redick said, "if they play the right way, they’re going to have a chance to win."

Breaking the double team
The Warriors stifled Embiid in their first matchup (12 points). After watching his 46-point performance against the Lakers, which head coach Steve Kerr deemed “terrifying,” the Warriors knew they had to be extra cognizant of the big man, especially on his home court.

They once again swarmed Embiid with a double team, a defensive look he’s still adjusting to. Embiid felt the pressure. He committed three turnovers in the game-changing third quarter (five on the night). 

“I’m more impressed by what they do defensively,” Embiid said. “Especially for me, they really had me guessing. They double-teamed me the whole night, from the top, from the baseline, from the post fader. They really had me guessing.”

Remember what caused the loss
The Sixers had chances to hand the Warriors a loss, both at home and on the road. When they plan for the rest of the season, the months and months ahead, they can point to what they did right and just as importantly what went wrong in competing against a team as dangerous as the Warriors. 

"We feel good about how we played for large majorities of the game and then you just blink and you get hit in the mouth," Brown said. "The repetition of playing the NBA champs and feeling like you're there and then all of a sudden to zoom in and say why aren't we? Why weren't we? Where did the game change? And understand that better and try to fix it, try to arrest it. That's the benefit to playing them in close proximity."

Sixers-Warriors observations: 22-point halftime lead evaporates against defending champs

Sixers-Warriors observations: 22-point halftime lead evaporates against defending champs

BOX SCORE

The excitement of a monster first half and the letdown of a lackluster second.

The Sixers went through dramatic ups and downs Saturday night in a 124-116 loss to the Warriors that seemed like an upset early on but turned into a disappointment for them.

• The Sixers scored … ready for this? You sure? Forty-seven points in the first quarter. They led the defending champions by 21 during a quarter that prompted double takes at the scoreboard.

The Sixers put together enough noteworthy plays in the first 12 minutes for a highlight reel: one-handed dunks and three-pointers by Joel Embiid, slams by Ben Simmons and a steal followed by a trey by Robert Covington to name a few.

The team shot a monster 73.1 percent from the field and 66.7 percent from three, led by 4 for 4 from Covington in the first game since signing his contract extension.

• You didn’t expect the Warriors would be quiet out of halftime, did you? Veteran teams — championship-winning veteran teams — make adjustments. They outscored the Sixers, 47-15, in the third and took a 10-point lead heading into the fourth. Steph Curry netted 20 points in the quarter. The Sixers shot 1 for 7 from three during the third and did not hit a basket in the final 2:20 of the quarter.

• Where did the third shut down on the Sixers end? Simmons attempted just one field goal in the third (0 for 1) compared to eight attempts in the first half. JJ Redick (0 for 3 from the field) was scoreless, too. Adding to that, Embiid had two points and did not pull down a rebound in the quarter. (Saric had six.) 

• The problem with playing the Warriors is, give them an inch — in many cases, all they need is a deficit less than 20 points — and they will take advantage. Even though they looked completely out of the game in the first half, they have been there, done that and know how to flip the switch. 

• Twenty-plus point performances by Simmons (23 points, eight rebounds, 12 assists), Embiid (21 points, eight rebounds), Covington (20 points, six rebounds) and Redick (20 points) were not enough to overcome 35 points by Curry and 27 from Kevin Durant. 

• The Sixers and Warriors flip-flopped shooting halves: 59 percent by the Sixers compared to 47 percent by the Warriors in the first half. In the second, the Sixers shot just 38 percent while the Warriors knocked down 62 percent.

• Simmons did whatever he wanted early on.

There was this …

… and this

… to name a few.

• Injury update: Markelle Fultz (right shoulder), Justin Anderson (left leg), Nik Stauskas (right ankle), Jerryd Bayless (left wrist) and Jahlil Okafor (personal) were out for the Sixers. 

• In years past, the seats would have been occupied by those wearing Warriors jerseys for a must-see opponent in town. On Saturday, it was clear the fans came to the Wells Fargo Center to watch the home team. 

• The early matchup between Saric and Zaza Pachulia was intriguing to watch. They both bring international experience to the court and had been familiar with each other’s game before Saric got to Philadelphia: Saric following Pachulia in the NBA and Pachulia learning about Saric’s play in Turkey. Pachulia referred to the Sixers forward as a  “young, talented kid” and “smart” last season.

• Notes and Numbers: The Sixers tied the record for most points scored in a half (74) by either team at the Wells Fargo Center. … Redick netted career three-pointer No. 1,300. He currently ranks 15th among active players. … The Warriors improved to 4-0 in the next game following a loss. They were defeated by the Celtics on Thursday. … The Sixers have lost 10 straight against the Warriors. Their last win was on March 2, 2013.