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NBA Draft Combine: Seven prospects who could fit the Sixers

NBA Draft Combine: Seven prospects who could fit the Sixers

With the NBA draft lottery just eight days away, the draft process is in full swing.

The NBA Draft Combine takes place this Thursday and Friday and while many potential top picks are skipping the two-day event, there will still be a bundle of talent among the 67 attendees. 

If draft positions stay the same, the Sixers would draft fourth overall while also holding four second-round selections. There is about a 50-50 chance the Lakers' pick, which is top-three protected, will convey this draft (Check out our NBA Draft Lottery Simulator for more). With the ability to trade up and down, the Sixers can really play in any part of the draft they want. 

Therefore, beyond watching the presumed top picks in-depth, it's worth taking a peek into the rest of the draft and who can fit the Sixers' needs. There will be plenty of time to talk about Markelle Fultz and De'Aaron Fox, the only presumed top-five talents attending the combine. 

Here are some of the other combine attendees to keep an eye on:

OG Anunoby, forward, Indiana (6-8/215)
There's always potential value to be had with injured players. The Eagles knew that last week when they got a top-15 talent with their mid-second-round pick. Anunoby will need to answer questions about his health after knee surgery ended his sophomore season early. Anunoby won't be able to participate in 5-on-5 competition during the combine, but teams will get their first look at where he is in the recovery process.

Anunoby is currently projected to be chosen in the middle of the first round after being a surefire top-10 pick before his injury. The Sixers would need to trade down (or up) to get him and he is still a project offensively, but there's the very real chance he could be an elite defensive wing almost immediately. He's that talented with the ability to guard nearly anyone. 

Luke Kennard, guard, Duke (6-6/202)
Kennard is another mid-first-round talent and he'd fit a significant need for the Sixers: Shooting. There are doubts about how the other parts of Kennard's game translate to the NBA, but the Duke product is a lethal shooter. The sophomore guard shot 43.8 percent from long range last season while taking over five shots from deep per game. 

What else Kennard can do is the issue. He was a defensive liability at times for the Blue Devils and his ability to create may not be suitable for the next level. Still, elite shooting translates loud and clear and the Sixers could use a spot-up sniper next to Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid to space the floor.

Jonathan Jeanne, center, France (7-2/210)
I know, I know. A center. In the immediate future, Jeanne doesn't fit the Sixers. The potential second-round pick is a raw player currently overseas and he hasn't yet had much of an opportunity to showcase his skills. What intrigues NBA teams is that he's 7-foot-2, has a 7-foot-7 wingspan and can go out to the three-point line. That's a modern center.

There are a few reasons Sixers fans should be intrigued. First, the combine is his first chance to strut his stuff in the U.S. Beyond that, the Sixers probably don't have room on their roster to hold all four of their second-round picks. If they find that they can't trade out of those spots, Jeanne could be a potential stash as he continues to develop in France. And lastly, adding center depth actually makes sense for the Sixers, as the end of 2016-17 made all too clear.

Dwayne Bacon, guard/forward, Florida State (6-5/202)
Jonathan Isaac is the most high-profile wing in this draft from the Seminoles, but Bacon is worth monitoring as well. The sophomore wing was one of the most productive players for an overaching FSU team, taking the offensive load much more often than Isaac, whose game is more projectable. Bacon is the type of player who could contribute offensively early on.

He'll be 22 in August, so he isn't young by draft standards. Still, there's room to grow in his game, especially if he can better utilize his size defensively. For now, he's more of a slasher than the shooter the Sixers may need. 

Nigel Williams-Goss, guard, Gonzaga (6-4/182)
Let's get to some more guards. You may remember Williams-Goss from his time leading the Zags to the cusp of their first national championship, only to be denied by North Carolina. Williams-Goss dove headfirst into the draft, hiring an agent and forgoing his senior year with Gonzaga. 

A traditional point guard with average shooting, the Gonzaga floor general looks like a late second-round pick, if he's drafted at all. However, he could still be an upgrade for the Sixers' bench. His 5-on-5 performance is something to watch beyond his measurables.

Davon Reed, guard, Miami (6-6/208)
For a three-and-D guard at an ACC school, Reed stays surprisingly out of the spotlight. It makes sense that a four-year, older player could slip under the radar and Reed is currently projected to go undrafted. Still, a 6-foot-6 wing who can drain threes and defend well is a good value late in the draft. In other years, Reed would have more of a chance to get picked. Or if he was an international player you could stash.

He's a player who needs to prove himself at the combine. He averaged over 14 points per game to help lead Miami into the NCAA Tournament this spring and could profile as a bench rotation piece for any team. The 2017 draft is packed to the brim with potential, so late second-round picks will have a lot of a value this year.

Tyler Dorsey, guard, Oregon (6-4/180)
Mr. March for Oregon declared for the draft with the intention to sign with an agent, leaving the Ducks after two seasons and a Final Four run. Dorsey was front and center for that run, hitting big shots in the clutch, particularly to finish off the team's regional games. The 21-year-old guard can certainly shoot.

Yet leaving for the draft was questionable. He's ranked 77th overall by Draft Express and could go undrafted, so the combine is that much more essential. He's not the type of guy who could pass on this opportunity. A shooting guard that can spot up is right up the Sixers' alley, whether drafting in the second round or trying to find players to compete in training camp.

Sixers-Raptors observations: Not much life without Joel Embiid in blowout loss

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Sixers-Raptors observations: Not much life without Joel Embiid in blowout loss

BOX SCORE

TORONTO — The Air Canada Centre has become a tough place for the Sixers.

Nothing has changed with a new season.

The Raptors defeated the Sixers, 128-94, Saturday night for their 16th win in the past 17 games against the Sixers, including 10 in a row at the Air Canada Centre.

The Sixers have problems beating the Raptors at home as well as away, which pretty well takes care of all the possibilities.

Say this for the Sixers, after falling behind by 17 points during the first quarter, they had the lead down to eight in the second quarter on a pair of free throws by former Raptor Jerryd Bayless. It was 62-49 for Toronto at the half.

Then there was the second half.

The Raptors raced out to a 72-51 lead early in the third quarter, with Serge Ibaka scoring eight of their first 10 points. Kyle Lowry finished the scoring in the third quarter with a three-pointer to increase Toronto’s lead to 102-71.

• Amir Johnson got the start at center with Joel Embiid missing the second half of a back-to-back to rest his left knee. Johnson knows his way around the Air Canada Centre, having played for the Raptors for six seasons before going to the Boston Celtics for the past two seasons. He received a nice cheer during the pregame introductions and then scored the game’s first basket on a dunk.

• Jahlil Okafor took over at center 5:27 into the first quarter and quickly scored to tie the game at 13, but he was out of the game after playing 2:49 after picking up three quick fouls.

• Ben Simmons had his third consecutive double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds. He also had eight assists. He already had accomplished something never done before in franchise history entering the game against the Raptors. The rookie forward recorded double-doubles in his first two career NBA games against the Washington Wizards and the Boston Celtics. He is the 11th player in NBA history to do so.

• Toronto guard DeMar DeRozan was listed as questionable for Saturday’s game because of flu symptoms. No such luck for the Sixers, he was in the starting lineup and looked quite well as he pumped in 15 points in the first quarter on 4 for 4 shooting from the field and a telling seven free throws in eight attempts. He finished with a game-high 30 points.

• As if the discrepancy in free throws has not been enough of a problem in the early going for the Sixers, Markelle Fultz missed three of his first four free-throw attempts against the Raptors. Toronto was 24 for 28 from the line in the first half and the Sixers were 12 for 18. Toronto made 31 of 37 foul shots on the game and the Sixers made 22 of 36. 

• Toronto reserve Lucas Nogueira scored on a breakaway dunk during the third quarter, which may redefine garbage time.

• For those who thought the 17 turnovers committed by the Sixers in each of their first two games were bad, what do you think of 20 turnovers Saturday night?

• Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas was restricted to 15 minutes (five points, four rebounds) because of a sprained left ankle. He had a double-double in the team’s opening game win over the Chicago Bulls.

Breaking down Joel Embiid's rough shooting night

Breaking down Joel Embiid's rough shooting night

Joel Embiid has joked in the past about his desire to be a guard in the NBA. All kidding and three-point shooting aside, the big man wants to play at the basket.

“We’ve got to do a better job of finding me in the post,” he said Friday following the Sixers' loss to the Celtics. 

Embiid was candid about where he needs the ball following his 11-point performance. He didn’t score until the third quarter and shot 4 for 16 from the field and 0 for 6 from three in 28 minutes. 

“I felt like I needed to go to the perimeter to make something happen because I wasn’t getting the ball in the post,” Embiid said. “I think we’ve got to look at the tapes and find ways to get me the ball in the post. But I felt like because I wasn’t doing that, I had to go outside and make something happen to help us win.”

Embiid started off the game taking shots away from the basket. He went 0 for 2 from three in the first quarter and also missed a 20-foot jumper. His two points came at the line.

Embiid went scoreless in the second quarter and didn’t attempt any shots in the paint, either. He failed to connect on another three as well as an 11-foot jump shot and a 13-foot floater. 

He began the second half going 0 for 2 from long-range in the first four minutes. Finally, with 4:35 remaining in the quarter, he recorded his first field goal off a layup from Dario Saric. He scored off a dunk from Markelle Fultz late in the third and notched another point off a free throw. 

Embiid became more aggressive at the basket in the fourth quarter. He checked in with 5:37 remaining and the Sixers trailing by four. He knocked down a 13-foot pull-up and then missed his next four attempts: an eight-foot jumper, a layup, a trey, and a tip layup. Embiid made a layup with 16 seconds to play. 

The Sixers system has changed from last season when Embiid was the offensive go-to (20.2 points per game). As a rookie, he made 63.6 percent of his field goals within three feet of the basket, according to Basketball-Reference.com.

The Sixers have added more scoring options, including Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz, who drive the basket and are not perimeter-focused. Of the two, only Fultz made a shot outside the paint Friday. The team as a whole scored 40 of their 92 points in the paint, compared to 28 by the Celtics. Below is a combined shot chart for Simmons and Fultz. 

Embiid's teammates will look to feed Embiid the ball at the basket. Just two games into the season, this newly-constructed squad still is learning how to play with one another. Embiid was limited in full-court practices for the majority of training camp and only played in two preseason contests.

The Sixers also are adapting to the offense when Embiid is both on and off the court as his minutes and availability fluctuate. He is not playing Saturday against the Raptors in the second night of a back-to-back. 

“If he’s in the game and he’s in the post, get him the ball,” Fultz said.

Embiid echoed, “He’s right. That’s the right answer.”