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Trade-down scenario: The case for Florida State's Jonathan Isaac to the Sixers

Trade-down scenario: The case for Florida State's Jonathan Isaac to the Sixers

Over the weeks leading up to the 2017 NBA draft, we'll be making cases for the Sixers to draft several prospects. Our series will kick off with options at No. 3 (or trade downs) followed by second-round possibilities. The 2017 NBA draft will take place on June 22 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. 

The following is a trade-down scenario; if the Sixers were to draft Isaac, it would likely be in a scenario where they trade down.

Jonathan Isaac
Position:
SF/PF
School: Florida State
Height: 6-11
Weight: 205
Wing span: 7-1 ¼

A 6-foot-4 guard entering high school, Isaac underwent a huge growth spurt, nearly becoming a 7-footer (he's only 19, so he still might become one). Isaac was a top-10 recruit and lived up to his billing during his lone season at Florida State.

His numbers won't blow you away: 12 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.5 blocks and 1.2 steals per game. But it's important to note that Isaac often deferred to the team's veteran guards in sophomore Dwayne Bacon and junior Xavier Rathan-Mayes. He was efficient, taking just eight shots a contest and shooting over 50 percent.

What makes Isaac intriguing is his guard-like skill set coupled with his size and length. His jumper was inconsistent (35 percent from three), but the 78 percent he shot from the line is encouraging. He's a matchup nightmare on both ends. He's too tall and long for most wings and too quick for bigs. He also uses his length and athleticism on the defensive end by getting his hands in passing lanes and protecting the rim.

*Note: If the Sixers were to draft Isaac, it would likely be in a scenario where they trade down.

The case for Isaac
The first thought for some Sixers fans might be, "Another big?! Really?!" with a little colorful language sprinkled in. But fans that feel that way obviously haven't watched Isaac play. 

Isaac can realistically guard positions one through five in the NBA. He's the epitome of positionless basketball. At the pro level, he'll constantly have to switch out on guards and he should be able to handle it just fine. He also gives you weakside rim protection (2.3 blocks per 40 minutes) and is a deflection machine (1.8 steals per 40). 

Offensively, you can tell he's still learning how to use his lanky frame. Occasionally you'll see him make a play off the dribble or pull up for a jumper and wonder how a guy his size can be that crafty. His shot is inconsistent, but it's far from broken. He was much better in catch-and-shoot opportunities which he should get a lot of with Ben Simmons facilitating and Joel Embiid in the paint.

He's also a team player. He joined a veteran Seminoles team, earned a role, and thrived in it. Early on, he should excel as Brett Brown wants to push the basketball and play with pace and space. 

The case against Isaac
As much as I love the idea of positionless basketball, it does sort of cause a dilemma for Isaac and his fit for the Sixers. He should be quick enough to guard NBA wings from the start, so realistically, Isaac and ROY candidate Dario Saric could coexist in the starting lineup. You'd then feature a starting lineup with four players measuring 6-10 or taller. While that would be so much fun, it may not be feasible against guard-heavy teams.

He's also skinny. Like, really skinny. His biggest issue in the NBA will be how he deals with taking a beating from grown men for 82 games. He also wore down and got into a shooting slump down the stretch.

Analysis
If the Sixers had a legitimate interest in Isaac, it would make sense to trade down. I can't see him getting past the Timberwolves at No. 7, so you'd likely have to stay in front of them. 

First, I want to admit bias. I genuinely loved watching Isaac play this year. He's one of my favorite prospects. With that said, I think starting three players 6-10 or taller isn't that crazy. Especially when you have guys like Simmons and Isaac who are basically guards trapped in a bigs' body. You could also use Isaac or Saric off the bench depending on the matchup.

Isaac definitely needs to get stronger, but if he does, that should also help his three-point shooting as he adjusts to NBA range. There would probably be moans and groans about the Sixers' drafting another big, but this kid is definitely not your typical big.

With Markelle Fultz and Ben Simmons set to debut, John Wall and Bradley Beal recall their early days

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With Markelle Fultz and Ben Simmons set to debut, John Wall and Bradley Beal recall their early days

The Sixers will have two No. 1 overall picks make their NBA debuts on Wednesday night in Markelle Fultz (2017) and Ben Simmons (2016). They are in for a challenge with the Wizards, one of the best teams in basketball, and with guards John Wall and Bradley Beal.

Wall and Beal know that challenge well. They were both top draft picks in their own right, Wall the first pick in 2010 and Beal the third pick in 2012. They can recall in specifics their first games in the NBA and how humbling they were.

"My first game, I was going against Dwight Howard. It was fun," Wall said. "There was a lot of pressure. There were a lot of people talking."

It's often said that the point guard position is as deep as it's ever been nowadays. The last three MVP awards have gone to point guards, for instance.

There were some good ones back in 2010, too.

"I remember in a five-game span I played like [Rajon] Rondo, Derrick Rose here and then I went out west and played Steve Nash, Chris Paul and Russell [Westbrook]," Wall said. "I don't think it's gotten any harder than it was back then in 2010 with those five guys. You kind of understand what those guys are about when you get to see it firsthand and play against them."

Beal vividly remembers going up against the LeBron James-led Miami Heat as a 19-year-old. It wasn't easy.

"It was the Heat when they had [Dwyane Wade] and LeBron on the same team. That's when D-Wade was electrifying. He still had his quickness. He was strong as I don't know what and I was a baby at that time," he said.

"For me, it was like I was in awe because those are the guys I grew up watching and I was a fan of. Now I'm playing against them and I can't be a fan of them. It was amazing to play against them, but also an eye-opener like, I need to get better."

Now it's Fultz and Simmons' turn to see what matching up with NBA superstars is like and don't expect Wall or Beal to take it easy on them.

"I'm a competitive person, so I'm not going to back down from any challenge," Wall said.

Joel Embiid to start Sixers' season opener, but how much will he play?

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Joel Embiid to start Sixers' season opener, but how much will he play?

WASHINGTON — The first starting lineup of the Sixers' 2017-18 season will be Ben Simmons, Jerryd Bayless, JJ Redick, Robert Covington and Joel Embiid.

Brown is sticking with the group that closed out preseason competition. That group has a balance of veterans and young talent, including Simmons making his NBA debut after missing all of last season with a foot injury.

"It helps a lot (starting together in the preseason) because you're learning guys and how they move and how they play," Simmons said. "I think we have a pretty good connection going into tonight's game and it's only going to get better."

Embiid will be under a minutes restriction but Brown does not have a definitive number. The big man previously said he expected to play 16 minutes. Embiid was the last one to leave the court at the conclusion of shootaround. 

"There's a range that we'll work with," Brown said. "We're going to feel it together. We'll play Joel within some parameters and go from that base." 

Markelle Fultz also will make his NBA debut. The No. 1 pick, who has battled right knee and shoulder soreness, will come off the bench in front of his hometown crowd. 

"I'm excited," Fultz said. "It's anything you can wish for."