76ers

Sixers stay put in lottery, have 11th pick in draft

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Sixers stay put in lottery, have 11th pick in draft

NEW YORK -- No one from the Sixers’ camp was too excited about showing up at the Millennium Broadway Hotel in Times Square for the NBA draft lottery on Tuesday night.

After all, who wants to go to the prom designed specifically for the guys without dates?

Worse, the mood at the swanky midtown hotel was one of resignation. An invitation to the NBA draft lottery is the ultimate proof that the season was a bust. For the Sixers, who were perfectly mediocre in 2012-13, the trip to New York was doubly frustrating. Not only did the team have virtually no chance in grabbing one of the top three picks in next month’s draft, but they also were all but assured to lock into where they finished the season.

So with the ping-pong balls working against them and the odds too fat to deny, the Sixers will have the No. 11 overall pick in the June draft.

The Sixers had a 90.74 percent chance to get the 11th pick, compared to .80 percent chance to win the lottery, a .95 percent chance to get the second pick and a 1.15 percent chance for the No. 3 pick.

Maybe they would have been better off buying a Powerball ticket …

Or making the playoffs.

“We had a small probability of being super happy and a small probability of being slightly sad,” Sixers’ managing owner Josh Harris said. “We’re neither. We’re right where we were expected to be.”

Nevertheless, one item on the Sixers’ summertime to-do list has been checked off. Now that the team knows where it will be picking in the draft, it can prepare for which player it wants to take. That should be a whole lot easier than some of the seemingly more important tasks.

After hiring Sam Hinkie to be the president and general manager, the Sixers need to hire a new coach. They also need to develop a plan for free agency and decide whether or not Andrew Bynum fits into the team’s future plans.

So at the loser’s prom, the Sixers took a step.

“I don’t want to comment on Bynum specifically, but it’s all interrelated,” Harris said. “Over the next weeks and months we’re going to get more articulate about our strategy. Sam has been here for a week and he’ll be speaking about our basketball strategy. It’s all interrelated. All of this stuff has to be focused on building a winner. Every decision you make has multiple affects on every other decision.”

Still, Harris is in no hurry to hire a basketball coach. Though the draft is next month and free agency begins shortly after that, followed by summer league and then training camp, the Sixers are being very deliberate in the search for Doug Collins’ successor.

“It’s an important decision,” Harris said. “If you get the right coach really fast, that’s better. But at the end of the day, you want the right coach. We’re not putting a deadline on it. It doesn't work to your advantage because the reality is we have a lot of talented coaches on the staff right now. Some of them have been head coaches, so we’re trying to get the right coach, not to get a coach quickly.”

Hinkie is running the show when it comes to hiring the new coach. He is also putting together the plan in regard to what to do in the draft and everything else that follows.

That’s a lot of work for a team that has a lot of needs, but Harris will lean heavily on Hinkie.

“I feel great with Sam’s hand at the helm of this thing,” Harris said. “We’re very like-minded, he’s very smart and he’s always working. I get texts from him at one in the morning and six in the morning. He’s all over it, and I feel good that we’re going to make good decisions.”

Of course, those decisions should have one minor goal at the fore. And that’s to never return to the NBA Draft Lottery any time soon.

Markelle Fultz still 'hesitant' with his shot

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Markelle Fultz still 'hesitant' with his shot

CAMDEN, N.J. — Markelle Fultz was clutch today. No, not in a game situation. But he delivered when Sixers coach Brett Brown ratcheted up the pressure on him.

“Today, six times I put him to the free throw line and say, ‘Hey, Markelle, if you make it, you keep it. If not, it’s the other team’s ball. It’s 92-91.’ And he goes 5 for 6, and he looked good doing it,” Brown said.

Brown explained after practice Wednesday he’s trying to put as much pressure on Fultz’s shot as possible in a practice setting. He said that while he likes what he’s seen from Fultz recently in practice, he doesn’t feel the rookie’s shot is ready for NBA action yet.

“He looks good,” Brown said. “You can see why he was the first player chosen. Stuff he does with the ball, his ability to get into the lane and find people. The hesitancy at times we see with his shot is true, it’s real. He can still impact an NBA game without having to shoot, he really can impact an NBA game without having to shoot.

“And so that doesn’t make him whole, though. It doesn’t make him whole. So finding what that next step is where he can go into an NBA game and feel more whole than he currently does, is the next timeline of, ‘OK, well when does he go play?'”

How “whole” Fultz needs to be to return to action appears to be subjective. One encouraging sign is Fultz’s free throw form, which appears hitch-free. Fultz shot 6 of 12 from the foul line in his four regular season games prior to being shut down, with a bizarre tilt of the head to the left and a long pause right before releasing the ball. Those issues weren’t visible when Fultz shot free throws after practice.

 

However, the Sixers don’t want Fultz back if he’s still hesitant to shoot jumpers, as Brown acknowledged. The Sixers are taking their time with the rookie — Brown confirmed they’re not going to rush his return because of JJ Redick’s left knee injury (see story). Instead, Brown will continue to have Fultz run the point for the second team at practice, and continue to try to coax Fultz into regaining full confidence in his shot.

In other injury news, Richaun Holmes will miss a second straight game Thursday night against Boston with gastroenteritis.

Sixers swag flying off the shelves this season

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Sixers swag flying off the shelves this season

Don’t be surprised if you are seeing more and more people wearing Sixers gear.

This season Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons have burst onto the list of the top 15 most popular NBA jerseys, according to NBAStore.com sales from October-December 2017.

Embiid ranks sixth, one spot ahead of the reigning league MVP, Russell Westbrook, with Simmons close behind at No. 8 as both of the Sixers make their debut on this list:

1. Stephen Curry
2. LeBron James
3. Kevin Durant
4. Giannis Antetokounmpo
5. Kristaps Porzingis
6. Joel Embiid
7. Russell Westbrook
8. Ben Simmons
9. Kawhi Leonard
10. James Harden
11. Lonzo Ball
12. Kyrie Irving
13. Klay Thompson
14. Damian Lillard
15. Jimmy Butler

The Sixers rank No. 3 in most popular team merchandise, their first time in that position since the 2003-04 season. They trail only the Warriors and Cavaliers:

1. Warriors
2. Cavaliers
3. 76ers
4. Lakers
5. Knicks
6. Bucks
7. Celtics
8. Spurs
9. Bulls
10. Thunder

Even Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz got his own Sixers jersey this season: