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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.

Stephen Curry saw potential in Markelle Fultz as one of his campers

Stephen Curry saw potential in Markelle Fultz as one of his campers

How quickly two years flies by. It was only then that Markelle Fultz attended Steph Curry’s basketball camp in the Bay Area. 

Fultz stood out to Curry, who recognized the teenager’s promising talent. In the time since that camp, Fultz became the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. 

“You knew right away what kind of potential he had in the league,” Curry said to NBC Sports Philadelphia Saturday at shootaround. 

There will be no matchup between teacher and student this season, though. Fultz is out because of a right shoulder injury and will miss the Sixers’ two games against the Warriors, both of which are scheduled in November. 

When the Sixers played in Oakland last weekend, Curry wanted to make sure he still talked to the rookie. Get healthy. Don’t lose confidence. Ignore the outside noise, the two-time championship winner and MVP encouraged. 

“The hardest thing is dealing with people’s expectations and the hype around you,” Curry said. “I don’t even know what it’s like being a No. 1 pick and having to deal with that. That’s part of the learning curve too. Hopefully he’ll be able to keep his confidence through all this.”

Fultz’s rookie year hasn’t started out smoothly. He suffered soreness and scapular muscle imbalance in his right shoulder early into the season. Fultz missed the majority of the preseason and played his first four games off the bench before he was ruled out indefinitely on Oct. 29. At the time the Sixers approximated a re-evaluation three weeks from then, which is Sunday. Fultz was averaging 6.0 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 19.0 minutes prior to being sidelined. 

Curry, though, saw in Fultz what the Sixers saw when they traded up to acquire the No. 1 pick from the Celtics. The team’s vision was for Fultz to complement Ben Simmons off the ball. As a freshman at Washington, he averaged 23.2 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.9 assists while leading the Pac-12 and all freshmen in scoring. 

“He’s just a great basketball player,” Curry said. “Obviously he’s quick. He’s athletic, he can shoot, he can play above the rim, he’s got the full package. I’m sure that’ll show as soon as he gets fully healthy and learns the ropes of the NBA.”

Curry can relate to Fultz. He is no stranger to battling injuries himself. Before Curry was dominating the NBA, he underwent ankle procedures and played only 26 games in his third season. He proved there can be a new chapter after being sidelined, one that’s better than the first. 

“Just be patient because this doesn’t define you,” Curry said. “It’s not the ideal way to start, but he’s going to be in good shape if he takes the necessary precautions to get fully 100 percent and understand he has a long career. He’s still young so this will be a distant memory very soon, the injury battle that really a lot of people have to go through, so he’s not alone.”

Curry has high expectations for Fultz in the NBA. He may have to wait another season to compete against him, but Curry will be looking forward to see how the 19-year-old develops and improves until then. 

"It’s kind of cool seeing guys that I got to see before they even got to college show out and do what they do and now get to play against them in the league," Curry said. 

Give and Go: How will Sixers fare on season-long homestand?

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Give and Go: How will Sixers fare on season-long homestand?

Each week, our resident basketball analysts will discuss some of the hottest topics involving the Sixers.

Running the Give and Go are NBC Sports Philadelphia anchor/reporter Marshall Harris, NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com producer/reporter Paul Hudrick and NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com producer/reporter Matt Haughton.

In this edition, we'll look at whether the Sixers can keep their momentum going during their upcoming six-game homestand.

Harris
At first glance, I thought the Sixers were looking at a winning homestand of 4-2. But with the latest injury to Justin Anderson (out at least three weeks with shin splints), the Sixers’ depth chart at guard could severely cripple those hopes. 

While they start Ben Simmons at point guard and JJ Redick at the shooting guard, the bench is left with only T.J. McConnell, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and rookie Furkan Korkmaz.

It’s hard to believe that guard rotation (or even a fully healthy one) would slow down Golden State. That's likely a loss any way you look at it with the Warriors coming off Thursday's loss to Boston.

The Sixers should handle Utah just as they did in Salt Lake City. But after that, the backcourt of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum will likely be tough to endure.

Orlando should offer a very strong chance at a win. The Magic have cooled off since a 6-2 start. Any team that can lose to the Bulls at home should be beatable by Brett Brown's squad.

The last two games against Cleveland and Washington should be great measuring sticks as top teams in the East. Both the Cavaliers and Wizards have been inconsistent. You'd hope the Sixers would be a little healthier by the last two games on the homestand. It will likely come down to late-game execution and I can see the Sixers earning a split.

So that's a 3-3 homestand from my vantage point with a chance to get a fourth win depending on Joel Embiid's availability. But with six games in 12 days, you have to wonder if "load management" won't play a factor here. So I'll stick with a shorthanded 3-3, accounting for the possibility of a JoJo no-show.

Hudrick
Unfortunately, the homestand will likely start with an L to the Warriors. As Marshall alluded to, the Warriors are coming off a loss on Thursday. That does not bode well for the Sixers.

The team has been playing at such a high level. Here’s the crazy thing though: they went 3-2 on a West Coast trip where JJ Redick and Dario Saric, two extremely important cogs in the Sixers’ lineup, contributed very little. 

Redick will right the ship. He has the track record. Sometimes, you’re just off. If it’s a mechanical issue, you know Redick will get it figured out. Saric’s struggles are likely the result of a role change and fatigue from playing so much basketball. While he doesn’t have the track record of Redick, I expect Saric to bounce back as well. 

Still, the Sixers are up against a gauntlet. After Saturday’s matchup with Golden State, the team hosts the Jazz, Trail Blazers and Magic before wrapping the homestand against the Wizards and Cavs. In my eyes, that’s three very winnable games and three extremely challenging contests. If they go 3-3, there would be nothing to be upset about.

But I think they pull out one of the games against the Wizards or Cavs and they go 4-2 over the next six games at the Wells Fargo Center.

Haughton
This is tricky because it combines how well the Sixers are currently playing with the level of competition set to enter the Wells Fargo Center.

On the Sixers’ end, things couldn’t be much better. The team capped off the five-game road trip with an exclamation mark as Joel Embiid put on a show for the ages against the Clippers and Lakers in Los Angeles. More importantly, the Sixers finished the trip with a 3-2 mark (should have been 4-1 if not for the “rogue” moment in Sacramento). Either way, the Sixers are in a solid position as they return to the Wells Fargo Center for the first time in just over two weeks.

As for the opponents, there aren’t any real slouches on the slate. The only team the Sixers will face below the .500 mark is the Rudy Gobert-less Utah Jazz, who they already took care of on the road.

Things get started with the champion Golden State Warriors, who had won seven straight prior to Thursday’s loss to Boston. The Sixers will also face Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum and the Portland Trail Blazers before a date with the surprising Orlando Magic. They finish off the home stretch with Eastern Conference heavyweights Cleveland and Washington.

I would say a split would be more than acceptable for the Sixers, but I’ll get a bit greedy and say the young squad feeds off the home crowd’s energy to go 4-2 during the stint with losses only to the Warriors and Cavaliers.