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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 thankful to have Embiid tonight vs. reigning MVP

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AP Images

Sixers thankful to have Embiid tonight vs. reigning MVP

Updated 5:28 p.m.

CAMDEN, N.J. — Joel Embiid will play tonight as the Sixers need all hands on deck to defend Russell Westbrook.

The big man's status was uncertain leading up to the game because of back tightness. Embiid missed Sunday's game against the Pelicans with the issue but played a career-high 39 minutes on Tuesday in the Sixers' overtime win against the Timberwolves. 

Embiid was on the court after shootaround draining threes barefoot. He commonly puts up shots without shoes.

The Sixers will require a total team effort against Westbrook. They will have their top perimeter defender Robert Covington back in the lineup after he missed the last two games with a lower back contusion.

Brett Brown will try different looks on Westbrook, but one thing is already known: There's no clear-cut formula to contain the reigning MVP. 

"Russell Westbrook demands a team to guard him," Brett Brown said Thursday. "He comes at you with such cocky aggression. How about the athlete that we're seeing and the mentality of that athlete? It is bizarre to me. That is a fierce, competitive person that just doesn't seem to get tired ... He's amazing to me. He really is amazing to me." 

Westbrook is averaging 22.6 points, 9.4 rebounds and 9.9 assists per game this season. All those stats don't really project much considering he's capable of going off for 30, 40 points any given night. He scored 30-plus points in three of his last five games. 

Even though the Thunder are below .500 (13-14), the Sixers are not ignoring the offseason additions of Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. Veteran scorers cannot be overlooked, regardless of a team's record heading into the game. 

"[Westbrook] is a special player in our league and he's going to be tough to contain one-on-one so it's going to be a group effort tonight," T.J. McConnell said. "Even with the other two, Carmelo and Paul George, it takes a team and following your principles and playing hard. That's all you can really do." 

• The Sixers will wear their red Statement Edition uniforms tonight for the first time. The jerseys were designed to reflect the history of the franchise and the city of Philadelphia. "Sixers" is written in cursive for the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

• The Sixers are unveiling a sculpture of Maurice Cheeks in front of their training complex in Camden. Cheeks is now an assistant coach for the Thunder. The point guard was a member of the 1983 championship team and earned four All-Star selections with the Sixers. Cheeks' sculpture will join those of Wilt Chamberlain, Hal Greer and Billy Cunningham already on "76ers Legends Walk."

Ben Simmons takes 4 families on holiday shopping spree

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Photo courtesy of Sixers' Twitter account

Ben Simmons takes 4 families on holiday shopping spree

Four families gathered in a roped-off waiting area adorned with Sixers decor inside of a Philadelphia Target store. They were told they were getting a surprise Thursday evening, but they didn't know who or what until a car pulled up outside ... and Ben Simmons walked through the door.

Simmons gave each family a $1,000 shopping spree right then and there. The room erupted in cheer.

"Beautiful," a mother exclaimed at the news. One child put his head in his hands in disbelief when he saw Simmons. Another said, "This is the best day ever."

"It's one of those things I always wanted to do growing up," Simmons, who came up with the idea for the shopping trip on his own, said. "It's the perfect time, season of giving. It just means a lot for me to be able to do this for some families."

The towering 6-foot-10 point guard walked through the store on Monument Road with each family and helped them choose their gifts along the way. 

They headed straight to the toy section, where the children piled in Legos, dolls and anything else that grabbed their attention. Then it was on to electronics. One child filled his cart with video games and a gaming system. Another family selected a television and soundbar. 

Shopping carts accumulated quickly as the kids ran in and out of aisles with bright smiles on their faces.

"Seeing them pick out what they want, not having to worry about it, I think that was the biggest thing," Simmons said. "It was a great time. I had a lot of fun, can't wait to do it next year."

The recipients were selected through Unity in the Community, a nonprofit organization based in South Philadelphia. Each had been through tough times in the past year and this trip helped to put the happy in their holidays.

"They can enjoy it now," Simmons said. "It's great for them to have no worries, especially on Christmas."