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Potential 2nd-round targets for Sixers in NBA draft: Small forwards/guards

Potential 2nd-round targets for Sixers in NBA draft: Small forwards/guards

We've already taken a look at the big men the Sixers could target in the second round (see story).

Here are the small forwards and guards who could be in the mix for the team in Round 2. 

Josh Hart: Shooting guard, 6-6/204, Villanova
Who knows more about what they would be getting in the Villanova champion than the Sixers?

Hart grew by leaps and bounds as a player during his four seasons on the Main Line, but the one thing that remained the same: his energy level. Hart plays with a certain intensity on both ends of the floor that will definitely give him a boost at the next level.

He paired that focus with his evolving skills to put together a stellar senior season. The versatile wing averaged 18.7 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.5 steals per game. Hart also shot 51.0 percent from the field and 40.4 percent from three-point land during a 2016-17 campaign in which he was named consensus first-team All-American, Big East Player of the Year and received the Julius Erving award as the top small forward in the country.

What Hart lacks in athleticism, he makes up for with his high basketball IQ, fierce competitive nature and winning pedigree (see story). After the dog days of "The Process," the Sixers could definitely use a guy with such a history of winning on their roster.

Dillon Brooks: Small forward, 6-7/215, Oregon
Even with Joel Embiid finally in action, the Sixers' offensive numbers were still pretty ugly last season. They ranked 25th in scoring, 27th in field goal percentage and 25th in three-point percentage.

Brooks wouldn't solve those woes by himself, but he's and offensive weapon who would absolutely help.

Brooks continued his improved shooting in his junior season with marks of 48.8 percent on field goals and 40.1 percent on three-pointers. He led a deep Ducks team with 16.1 points per game as he was named Pac-12 Player of the Year.

The skill to drain shots from each level of the floor and come through in the game's biggest moments will be attractive to a lot of teams in the middle of the second round (see story). With the Sixers' wing-needy situation, they might give the fiery Brooks a long look.

Jaron Blossomgame: Small forward/power forward, 6-7/214, Clemson
Sometimes you just need that dog on the basketball court. A guy that you know is going to get after it on each and every possession.

From an NBA standpoint, think Tony Allen or Avery Bradley.

That's what the Sixers would be getting in a guy like Blossomgame, whom they worked out last year before he opted to return to Clemson and again earlier this month.

His offense is going to come and go (his point production dipped slightly as a senior and his three-point shooting fell off a cliff — 44.1 percent to 25.5 percent). However, Blossomgame will put on that defensive hat night after night and get the job done.

He's a bundle of energy, and at nearly 24 years old has a strong frame that's already built for the league (see story).

For a Sixers team that allowed 108.1 points per game (24th in the NBA), Blossomgame should at least be under consideration.

Frank Mason III: Point guard, 5-11/185, Kansas
Not too many prospects under the 6-foot mark get legitimate NBA consideration. However, when you are this good and decorated as a collegiate player, teams tend to make an exception.

Let's just take a look at what Mason accomplished in 2016-17 alone: named consensus national player of the year, named consensus first-team All-American, won the Bob Cousy award (nation's top point guard), named Big 12 Player of the Year and first-team All-Big 12.

While college achievements are far from a guarantee of NBA success, Mason's makeup suggests he will find a way to survive at the next level. 

First off, he's an absolute pit bull on the court. Despite, his short stature, Mason is stocky and aggressive on both ends. He's also a solid shooter, particularly from long range. The PG finished his four seasons with the Jayhawks with career shooting marks of 45.4 percent from the field and 42.0 percent from long range (see story).

The 23-year-old is also a natural leader. Mason is vocal and a true extension of the coach on the floor. Even playing with other prime-time players at a program like Kansas, he was still a major reason the Jayhawks won 116 games during his time on campus.

Tyler Dorsey: Shooting guard, 6-4/180, Oregon
When considering instant offense off the bench in a second-round pick, few players might provide that option better than Dorsey. 

Dorsey averaged 14.6 points per game on 46.7 percent from the field and 42.3 percent from three-point range. Those numbers skyrocketed during the NCAA Tournament when the 21-year-old caught fire as he averaged 23.8 points in five games and shot 59.6 percent from the field and 60.6 percent from deep.

Dorsey does provide the option of playing either guard spot and noted he would be a good fit alongside Ben Simmons and the rest of the Sixers when the Pasadena, California native worked out for the team earlier this month (see story).

He doesn't offer much outside of the shooting department, but that's arguably the biggest issue for this young Sixers squad.

Others to keep an eye on: Duke SG Frank Jackson, Gonzaga PG Nigel Williams-Goss, Florida State SF Dwayne Bacon.

Joel Embiid ready for home playoff debut, says Sixers' 'time is now'

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USA Today Images

Joel Embiid ready for home playoff debut, says Sixers' 'time is now'

CAMDEN, N.J. — Joel Embiid received a text message from across the NBA following the Sixers’ 27-point win over the Heat in Game 1. 

It was from Draymond Green, sending his championship-winning insight. 

“Draymond texted me after the first game when we blew Miami out,” Embiid recalled Monday. “He basically told me that it’s not going to be the same in Game 2. They came back and they won that game.” 

Green was right. Each contest has been a match of adjustments, including Embiid’s return from a 10-game layoff. Wearing a required mask with goggles, Embiid played in the Sixers’ Game 3 and Game 4 victories. 

Now he’s poised to make his postseason home debut Tuesday at the Wells Fargo Center, where he’s been eager to compete in a playoff game his entire career. 

“The atmosphere was amazing, it was insane,” Embiid said of the home crowd in Games 1 and 2. “After going to Miami, I felt like nothing compared to it. … We’ve been almost perfect [at home] since the beginning of the year. It just shows you how much we need them. Especially myself, I play better in that type of environment. I need the fans to get into it and push me. That makes me elevate my game.” 

Embiid’s offensive game has been impacted since coming back from a concussion and left orbital fracture suffered on March 28. He scored 23 points (5 for 11 FG) with seven rebounds, four assists, three blocks and three turnovers in Game 3. The following game, he posted 14 points (2 for 11 FG, 0 for 4 from three), 12 rebounds, five blocks and eight turnovers. Embiid is shooting 31.8 percent from the field and 71.4 percent from the line in the series. 

“The main thing, especially when it (the offense) doesn’t go my way, is just be a beast defensively,” he said. 

Embiid cannot play without the protective mask, though, which he has described as “annoying” and “weird.” Markelle Fultz and Amir Johnson tried on the goggles after practice Monday to get a glimpse into his line of vision. 

“They kind of saw my pain when I have to wear them,” Embiid said. “But that can’t be an excuse. I have to get used to it.” 

Embiid’s mindset going into Game 5 is to close out the Heat series and get some extra time before the second round (see story). The Celtics and Bucks series is tied 2-2. He sees the first round as just the starting point for the Sixers’ postseason. 

“A lot of people say that we have a bright future, but I think our time is now,” Embiid said. “We have a pretty good chance. We have a special team, a lot of great guys. I don’t think we need anybody else. We’ve just got to work with what we have, and we have a special team. I feel like we have a pretty good chance to go far. 

"So it’s just about us taking care of the little things, like not turning the ball over, just playing together, like we've been doing, sharing the ball, not be selfish, and everything is going to take care of itself." 

Embiid will take the court for his first postseason game in Philadelphia when the Sixers tip off against the Heat at 8 p.m. Tuesday on NBCSP.

"The playoffs, that’s kind of like you play in front of the whole world," Embiid said. "I feel like I thrive in that type of situation because I feel like I was made for this." 

Sixers know what must be done to knock out Heat

Sixers know what must be done to knock out Heat

CAMDEN, N.J. — The Sixers have pushed the Heat to the brink of elimination and now they are hunkering down for yet another battle in this hard-fought first-round matchup. 

The Sixers do not anticipate closing out the series Tuesday night at home to be any easier than the first four grind-it-out games. 

“You don’t have to be a wise man to know what is about to happen, what style of play they’re going to try to play,” Brett Brown said before practice Monday. “Especially when they’re going to go home if they’re not able to find a win. We understand that.”

The Sixers are returning to the Wells Fargo Center up 3-1 after completing the challenging task of taking two straight games on the road. As they prepare for what could be a deciding game, they are focused on fixing their mistakes from the previous ones. The Sixers overcame giving up 30 points on 27 turnovers, shooting 7 for 31 from three, and trailing by 12 in Game 4. 

“I said it after the game and I’ll say it again now: we were very fortunate to win that game,” Brown said. “The discipline that we did not show offensively and defensively in the first three periods, especially as I go back and watch it, can’t happen.” 

Regardless of the final score, the Heat have proven to be a feisty squad each night. The tussle between Robert Covington, James Johnson and Ben Simmons exemplified the spirit of the series. The teams were whistled for a combined 10 technical fouls in Games 3 and 4. 

Goran Dragic said the Heat are not going to show up at the Wells Fargo Center to surrender. The Sixers don’t anticipate them to, either. 

“A team like Miami, their culture, their organization, their group of guys, they have fighters, they have warriors on their team,” JJ Redick said. “Every game in this series has been tough. There’s no expectations that Game 5 will be any different.”

The Sixers have not advanced out of the first round since 2012, the last time they were in the playoffs. With a 3-1 lead, their objective Tuesday is clear. 

“Our mindset is to close it out,” Joel Embiid said.