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.

Ben Simmons shrugs off mental fatigue with another triple-double

Ben Simmons shrugs off mental fatigue with another triple-double


Around 6 p.m., Ben Simmons spoke about mental fatigue and the frustrations it can cause. 

An hour later, he hit the court and posted an 11-point, 12-rebound, 15-assist triple-double … with zero turnovers.

“I wish he was more mentally fatigued in the future,” Brett Brown said with a laugh. 

The 21-year-old rookie may be feeling the weight of his first NBA season, but he certainly didn’t show it Monday in the Sixers’ 108-94 win over the Hornets (see observations)

Simmons recorded his third triple-double in the last four games. He exhibited disciplined court vision by finding his teammates with a high level of ease and chemistry that’s been developing over the season (see highlights).

“I was trusting them to knock down shots,” Simmons simply put it. “They make it easy for me.”

Simmons became the first rookie in the NBA to record a triple-double with 15 assists and no turnovers. Only David Robinson and Andre Iguodala had reached a triple-double without an error as rookies. 

Simmons considers his assists and turnovers to be the most meaningful stats of the triple-double, noting his turnovers usually are caused by mental errors. 

"That’s amazing," Joel Embiid said. "To be able to make the right reads and not turn the ball over, there’s a few guys in the league that can do that ... that just shows you that he can be a great point guard."

The 6-foot-10 point guard is averaging 16.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, 7.9 assists and 1.7 steals per game over 34 minutes. With each game that passes, Simmons continues to be linked with the feats of Hall of Famers. From joining in the same company as Oscar Robertson and Magic Johnson to moving ahead of Allen Iverson for most 10-assist games by a Sixers rookie, his performances are often tied back to historical markers. 

“I think people get caught up in how many points I score every game,” Simmons said. “It’s not about that. It’s a matter of points that we’re getting as a team and how many stops we get … 

"People are always going to say I need to do certain things but I know what I’m capable of and I know what I’m really good at.”

LeBron continues triple-double tour

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LeBron continues triple-double tour

CLEVELAND -- LeBron James scored 40 points as part of his third triple-double in four games and the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Milwaukee Bucks 124-117 on Monday night as coach Tyronn Lue began his leave of absence to address health issues.

Lue said Monday in a statement he been dealing with chest pains and loss of sleep, and that tests have offered no conclusion about what the issue is. Associate head coach Larry Drew will run the team in Lue's absence.

James scored 17 points in the third quarter and finished with 12 rebounds and 10 assists for his 16th triple-double this season and 71st of his career.

The four-time MVP took over in the third beginning with back-to-back 3-pointers. After not getting a foul called on a third attempt, he finished Cleveland's next possession with a massive dunk. He was fouled attempting another dunk and made both free throws the following time down.

Milwaukee cut a 17-point lead to 117-109, but James drove the length of the floor for a dunk with just over a minute left.

Cavaliers All-Star forward Kevin Love returned after missing six weeks because of a broken left hand and scored 18 points in 25 minutes. He sparked a 10-0 run in the second quarter with two 3-pointers

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 37 points and went 11 for 11 at the foul line for Milwaukee, which is seventh in the Eastern Conference. Khris Middleton had 30 points, making 11 of 16 from the field (see full recap).

Heat set franchise scoring mark in 2OT win
MIAMI -- James Johnson scored a career-high 31 points, Kelly Olynyk added 30 off the bench and the Miami Heat set a franchise single-game scoring record by beating the Denver Nuggets 149-141 in double overtime Monday night.

Miami's total was also an NBA season-high and helped the Heat get back to the No. 7 spot in the Eastern Conference standings. Houston and Oklahoma City each scored 148 in games earlier this season.

Wayne Ellington scored 29 points for the Heat. Nikola Jokic had 34 for Denver, while Wilson Chandler added 26 for the Nuggets.

"That was as playoffs as it comes right there," Olynyk said.

The NBA's stat system crashed late in the first overtime, and crews were scrambling to determine the final numbers long after the buzzer. All that ultimately mattered was the score -- one that moved the Heat closer to a playoff berth and left the Nuggets two games back in the Western Conference race.

Neither team was at full strength. For Miami, Dwyane Wade (left hamstring strain) missed his fourth consecutive game, and Hassan Whiteside (left hip pain) sat out his fifth straight contest. Denver was without leading scorer Gary Harris, sidelined again by a strained right knee that could keep him out several more days (see full recap).

Oladipo, Pacers rally past Lakers
INDIANAPOLIS -- Victor Oladipo sparked a decisive run and finished with 20 points, Myles Turner had 21 points and the Indiana Pacers recovered from a poor start for a 110-100 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday night.

The victory snapped Indiana's two-game losing streak.

Los Angeles was led by Kyle Kuzma with 27 points and Brook Lopez with 23, but the Lakers still lost their third straight.

Oladipo and Darren Collison got Indiana going with back-to-back 3-pointers midway through the third quarter for a 77-70 lead. After a layup from Julius Randle, Collison made a 20-footer and Lance Stephenson hit a 10-footer. When the 14-4 flurry ended, Indiana led 85-74 with 3:04 left in the third.

The Lakers never seriously challenged after that.

It was a stark contrast to the Lakers' fast start. Efficient shooting helped them take a 28-19 lead in the first quarter, but when the shooters cooled off, the Pacers charged back and used a 15-6 second-quarter run to make it 51-50 late in the period.

The Pacers still trailed 59-57 at the half -- before Oladipo helped flip things in the second half (see full recap).