76ers

Haughton's 2014 Sixers mock draft 1.0

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Haughton's 2014 Sixers mock draft 1.0

Between now and the draft, our draft pundits will provide their latest Sixers mock drafts. They will make selections for each of the Sixers' seven picks (or some of the picks and trade the others). Dei Lynam's ran first and then John Finger's. Here's Matt Haughton's:

First round (third overall): Jabari Parker, SF/PF, Duke
Things just got even more interesting.

By now you’ve certainly heard that Joel Embiid suffered a stress fracture in his right foot that could throw the entire top of the NBA draft out of whack.

While conventional wisdom suggests that the Cleveland Cavaliers and Milwaukee Bucks merely reconfigure their draft boards to move Embiid out and focus on top wing prospects, Andrew Wiggins and Parker, I see it a little differently.

Embiid’s injury also opens up the window for Australia’s Dante Exum. Exum will now work out for the Cavs and he has already gone through a session with the Bucks.

Teams -- including the Sixers -- are definitely intrigued by the guard’s size and ability. That’s enough for Cavs owner Dan Gilbert (he did draft Anthony Bennett No. 1 overall last year) or the Bucks’ new ownership group to pull the trigger on Exum.

With that said, Sam Hinkie apparently covets Wiggins, but in life you don't always get what you want. However, the Sixers end up with exactly what they need in Parker: a big-time scorer.

Parker brings the ability to put the ball in the basket from in the paint, beyond the three-point line and everywhere in between. He's the most polished offensive player in the draft class, which has to be a welcomed sight for a Sixers team that finished last season ranked 19th in scoring and 29th in field goal percentage.

Parker's defense leaves much to be desired, but the same could be said for the rest of his new teammates. He'll improve in that aspect and get a boost from having Nerlens Noel camping out around the rim.

First round (10th overall): Nik Stauskas, SG, Michigan
Starting to get the theme? The Sixers add some more scoring at No. 10 with Stauskas.

With the Sixers' roster full of players that like to get to the rim, Stauskas will provide the necessary outside shooting (44.2 percent from three-point range last season). Plus, at 6-foot-6 he gives the team plenty of size in the backcourt with Michael Carter-Williams and another ballhandler to take some of the pressure off MCW.

Don't sleep on the two-guard's athleticism either.

Second round (32nd overall): Patric Young, PF/C, Florida
After racking up on offense, the Sixers go for the other end of the floor by taking Young with the first of their five second-round picks.

Young, a four-year player for the Gators, will provide some intensity and activity to the Sixers’ frontline. Not to mention he’ll add some beef. Young’s 6-foot-9, 240-pound frame would help take some of the burden of banging down low off Thaddeus Young and Nerlens Noel.

While Patric Young failed to show much growth offensively during his time in college, this move is strictly to help boost a defensive unit that allowed a league-worst 109.9 points per game.

Second round (39th overall): Walter Tavares, C, Cape Verde
The Sixers may have to do some maneuvering with that haul of second-rounders if they suspect another team is eying Tavares, but they still end up with the mammoth center.

Tavares’ main selling point is his size -- 7-foot-3, 265 pounds. That type of frame combined with a 7-foot-9 wingspan doesn’t exactly come around every day.

Tavares has been playing basketball for only a few years, so his rather raw skill set will continue to grow.

Second round (47th overall): Vasilije Micic, PG, Serbia
The Sixers keep the international flavor going by taking Micic, a heady point guard.

The 6-foot-4 Micic is a natural PG with extremely good vision and passing ability. He uses a lot of ball fakes and crafty moves to get where he wants on the floor. Plus, he’s a master at making the right decision in pick-and-roll situations.

Micic’s lack of overall speed and athleticism could be a concern when transitioning to the NBA, but it shouldn’t prevent him from being a viable option off the bench for Brett Brown.

Second round (52nd and 54th overall): Trades
Hinkie will package these two picks to gain some other draft assets in the future. Perhaps even more second-round selections.

Breaking down Joel Embiid's rough shooting night

Breaking down Joel Embiid's rough shooting night

Joel Embiid has joked in the past about his desire to be a guard in the NBA. All kidding and three-point shooting aside, the big man wants to play at the basket.

“We’ve got to do a better job of finding me in the post,” he said Friday following the Sixers' loss to the Celtics. 

Embiid was candid about where he needs the ball following his 11-point performance. He didn’t score until the third quarter and shot 4 for 16 from the field and 0 for 6 from three in 28 minutes. 

“I felt like I needed to go to the perimeter to make something happen because I wasn’t getting the ball in the post,” Embiid said. “I think we’ve got to look at the tapes and find ways to get me the ball in the post. But I felt like because I wasn’t doing that, I had to go outside and make something happen to help us win.”

Embiid started off the game taking shots away from the basket. He went 0 for 2 from three in the first quarter and also missed a 20-foot jumper. His two points came at the line.

Embiid went scoreless in the second quarter and didn’t attempt any shots in the paint, either. He failed to connect on another three as well as an 11-foot jump shot and a 13-foot floater. 

He began the second half going 0 for 2 from long-range in the first four minutes. Finally, with 4:35 remaining in the quarter, he recorded his first field goal off a layup from Dario Saric. He scored off a dunk from Markelle Fultz late in the third and notched another point off a free throw. 

Embiid became more aggressive at the basket in the fourth quarter. He checked in with 5:37 remaining and the Sixers trailing by four. He knocked down a 13-foot pull-up and then missed his next four attempts: an eight-foot jumper, a layup, a trey, and a tip layup. Embiid made a layup with 16 seconds to play. 

The Sixers system has changed from last season when Embiid was the offensive go-to (20.2 points per game). As a rookie, he made 63.6 percent of his field goals within three feet of the basket, according to Basketball-Reference.com.

The Sixers have added more scoring options, including Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz, who drive the basket and are not perimeter-focused. Of the two, only Fultz made a shot outside the paint Friday. The team as a whole scored 40 of their 92 points in the paint, compared to 28 by the Celtics. Below is a combined shot chart for Simmons and Fultz. 

Embiid's teammates will look to feed Embiid the ball at the basket. Just two games into the season, this newly-constructed squad still is learning how to play with one another. Embiid was limited in full-court practices for the majority of training camp and only played in two preseason contests.

The Sixers also are adapting to the offense when Embiid is both on and off the court as his minutes and availability fluctuate. He is not playing Saturday against the Raptors in the second night of a back-to-back. 

“If he’s in the game and he’s in the post, get him the ball,” Fultz said.

Embiid echoed, “He’s right. That’s the right answer.”

Sixers-Raptors thoughts: Embiid to sit, Okafor to take his place

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Sixers-Raptors thoughts: Embiid to sit, Okafor to take his place

Sixers (0-2) at Raptors (1-0)
7:30 p.m./NBC Sports Philadelphia, NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports app. Pregame Live at 7.

The Sixers enter their first back-to-back set of the season when they tip off against the Toronto Raptors at Air Canada Centre.

Hope you didn’t think the Sixers would flip the switch overnight. Oh yeah, it’s a process.

The Sixers found that out again when they stalled during the second half of Friday night’s 102-92 loss to the Boston Celtics in their home opener.

“We didn’t hold everything together like we should have,” Jerryd Bayless said.

Let’s take a closer look at the matchup:

• Joel Embiid won’t suit up against the Raptors because the center still isn’t cleared for back-to-backs yet. His stamina is not where it needs to be at the moment and it showed vs. the Celtics.

Embiid looked lethargic as he struggled through a 4-for-16 performance for just 11 points. That included the big man going 0 for 6 from three-point range.

After the game, the big man expressed that he wants more touches in the paint. That will certainly happen, but it will have to wait until the next game.

• So who will take Embiid’s playing time in Toronto? If only the Sixers had another center on their roster also taken No. 3 overall in a recent NBA draft.

Wait, they do? Hello, Jahlil Okafor.

Since slimming down in the offseason and performing well during the preseason, Okafor has been glued to the bench during the Sixers’ first two games of 2017-18.

That is likely to change against the Raptors. With both Embiid and Richaun Holmes out, Okafor could share the center duties with veteran Amir Johnson.

That wouldn’t be a bad idea based on the numbers. In five career games against the Raptors, Okafor has averaged 20.0 points and 7.2 rebounds in 31.3 minutes.

• For years, the Raptors have been fueled by their All-Star backcourt tandem of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. That won’t change this season, but the team is intent on spreading the ball around more.

Toronto had six players score in double figures during its season opener. That included a team-high 23 points from center Jonas Valanciunas and 22 off the bench from veteran C.J. Miles.

Speaking of Miles, the Sixers will have to keep a close eye on the Raps’ new-look bench that accounted for 48 points in the team’s season-opening win over the Chicago Bulls.

• Ben Simmons has been as advertised. He’s big, strong, athletic and plays with poise.

The point guard put up 11 points, 11 rebounds and five assists in Friday’s loss to the Celtics. That made him the first rookie in Sixers history to start his career with back-to-back double-doubles and just the 11th in NBA history.

Simmons also became just the fifth player ever to have at least 10 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in their first two games, according to Elias Sports Bureau. The other four: Elgin Baylor, Oscar Robertson, Connie Hawkins and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Yeah, he’s off to a pretty good start.

• The Sixers haven’t exactly had much success against the Raptors in recent years. They’ve lost 15 of their last 16 to their division foe, including nine straight at Air Canada Centre. Their last victory north of the border came on Nov. 10, 2012.

• Embiid (rest) and Holmes (wrist) are out for the Sixers.

Fred VanVleet (head) is a game-time decision for the Raptors. Malcolm Miller (ankle) is out.