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2019 NBA draft profile: Carsen Edwards' elite scoring ability a perfect fit for Sixers

2019 NBA draft profile: Carsen Edwards' elite scoring ability a perfect fit for Sixers

Position: Guard

Height: 6-0

Weight: 199

School: Purdue

Carsen Edwards was on the short list of the best players in all of college basketball the last two years. A two-time First Team All-Big Ten selection, he was the face of the Purdue program during his sophomore and junior seasons. 

Edwards averaged 24.3 points this past season as a junior and cemented his status as a legit NBA prospect during Purdue’s run to the Elite Eight in March. He averaged just under 35 points in the Boilermakers’ four NCAA Tournament games - including 42-point performances against Villanova and Virginia, two programs that have combined to win three of the last four national championships. 

Edwards turned 21 in March and enters the NBA with three years of experience at the highest level of college basketball. He projects as a late first-round to early second-round selection. His elite scoring ability combined with his impressive work ethic should enable him to carve out a successful 10-12 year NBA career.

Strengths 

Jay Wright came up with a fitting description of Edwards before Villanova’s NCAA Tournament game against Purdue - a thick Allen Iverson. 

At just under 200 pounds, Edwards is sturdier than the former Sixers superstar. That’s not to say Edwards will follow the same career path in the NBA as Iverson, but the skill sets are similar. 

Edwards can score the ball. That’s his biggest asset as he makes the transition to the professional level. He can score with the ball in his hands and he can score playing off the ball. Like Iverson throughout his career, Edwards has been relied upon heavily to carry his team on the offensive end of the floor. 

Edwards attempted nearly 20 shots per game as a junior at Purdue. He connected on 39.4 percent of his field goal attempts, including 35.5 percent from three-point range. His efficiency numbers were down from his sophomore season, when he was a 40.6 percent three-point shooter.

In addition to being an extremely talented offensive player, Edwards is a fierce competitor who puts forth maximum effort on the defensive end. His foot speed, lateral quickness and 6-6 wingspan should enable him to become a more than adequate perimeter defender.

Weaknesses

Decision making stands out here. Edwards had more turnovers than assists last season at Purdue. He has the tendency to try to do too much offensively, something he will have to reign in at the NBA level. 

He measured at just over 6-feet in shoes at the NBA Combine, so he’ll be undersized for a guard. It also remains to be seen how he transitions from being “the man” in college to playing a complementary role in the pros. Can he be effective with a significantly lower usage rate? 

Fit

Edwards would be a tremendous fit with the Sixers. He’s a dynamic scoring guard capable of creating his own opportunities. He shoots effectively off the dribble. These are traits that the Sixers’ offense lacked last season. 

He would be a terrific spark off the bench and could also blend in nicely with Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid and the rest of the first unit. He has a winning mentality, the type of guy you want in your locker room.

Edwards should be available when the Sixers make the 24th pick in the first round. There’s a slim chance he could still be on the board early in the second round. He impressed the Sixers at his pre-draft workout last week, so it shouldn’t be a surprise if they target him on draft night.

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Sixers vs. Cavaliers: 3 storylines to watch and how to stream the game

Sixers vs. Cavaliers: 3 storylines to watch and how to stream the game

Updated: 3:55 p.m.

The Sixers suffered one of their worst letdown losses of last season to the Cavaliers in November, a 121-112 defeat at Wells Fargo Center in which Tristan Thompson grabbed twice as many offensive rebounds (eight) as their entire team.

Sitting at 6-3, they’ll aim to avoid a similar effort Tuesday night when they play the 4-5 Cavs.

Here are the essentials for tonight’s game:

When: 7 p.m. ET with Sixers Pregame Live at 6:30 p.m.
Where: Wells Fargo Center
Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia 
Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app

And here are three storylines to watch: 

The injury situation 

Al Horford is out (rest), Ben Simmons is questionable (right shoulder sprain), Trey Burke is questionable (left calf tightness) and Shake Milton is probable (bone bruise and mild left knee sprain), per NBC Sports Philadelphia Serena Winters.

Regardless of whether Simmons, Burke and Milton play, the Sixers will again likely need to lean on their bench, which currently has a plus-0.3 plus-minus. The Sixers’ bench hasn’t finished with a positive plus-minus since the 2011-12 season. 

Two teenagers to watch

Cavs head coach John Beilein gives significant minutes to two players younger than many he coached at the University of Michigan, a pair of 19-year-old rookies. No. 5 overall pick Darius Garland starts for Cleveland, and Kevin Porter Jr., the last pick in the first round, comes off the bench.

Twenty-year-old Collin Sexton scored 23 points against the Sixers twice last year and has maintained his efficiency from three-point range at a higher volume. He’s hitting 42.2 perfect from beyond the arc on 5.0 attempts per game. Sexton scored a career-high 31 points in the Cavs’ win Sunday over the Knicks, their second straight victory on the road.

‘Talent does not trump time’

As ESPN’s Zach Lowe noted, the Cavs’ starting five has played 142 minutes together and has a plus-16.1 net rating.

The Sixers’ normal starters, in contrast, have played 100 fewer minutes with each other, posting a plus-15.1 net rating.

Brett Brown said before the Sixers’ win over the Hornets Sunday that his biggest takeaway from the team’s 1-3 West Coast road trip was “the confirmation that talent does not trump time.” His starters just haven’t had much time together yet, and Tuesday’s game will be another without his preferred top five.



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Away from the cameras, Josh Richardson builds special bond with his 14-year-old mentee, Elijah Byrd

sixers_josh_richardson_elijah_byrd.jpg
Photo courtesy of Sixers.com

Away from the cameras, Josh Richardson builds special bond with his 14-year-old mentee, Elijah Byrd

The first time Josh Richardson met his mentee, 14-year-old Elijah Byrd, he pulled him over to the side, away from the cameras.

“This isn’t just for the screen,” Elijah recalls Richardson saying. “I'm not doing this to just show that I'm a good guy and everything. If you want to hit me up, hit me up whenever you need.”

Elijah admits he was skeptical at first, and so was his mother, Jessica. Richardson and Elijah were paired up as part of the Sixers' "Walk In My Shoes" mentorship program. Both Elijah and his mom quickly realized that Richardson wasn’t kidding around.

“He put his name in my phone as big bro!” Jessica remembers her son saying that day, smiling from ear to ear.  

“That in itself was worth the two-hour long journey to get there that day,” Jessica says of their trek out to the Sixers' Blue x White Scrimmage at 76ers Fieldhouse in Wilmington, Delaware. “That smile is what makes everything worth it.”


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           (Photo courtesy of Sixers.com)

That first meeting was just the beginning.

Shortly thereafter, Richardson invited Byrd to the Philadelphia Union game. There were no cameras ...

“Josh was like, ‘You rolling with us?’ And I was like, 'Wait what did you say? Repeat that,'" Elijah remembers, stunned. “I was like, 'You have no idea what this means to me.' I was freaking out.”

Elijah and his mom both got to meet Richardson's family that day, an important step for a protective mother.

Jessica admits it’s been tough to let her only son go but she realizes now that she couldn’t have asked for a better mentor.

The fact that Richardson also grew up in a military household is an added bonus. Richardson’s mother, Alice, is a retired lieutenant colonel in the US Air Force Reserves. Elijah’s father and Jessica’s late husband, LCPL John T. Byrd, lost his life serving as a marine in Iraq in 2004. They buried him on Veterans Day 15 years ago.

“I’m really here for him,” Richardson says. “I tried to make it a point off the bat, so his mom and his family could feel comfortable with me.”

“There was a lot of fear in my mom heart about what most of this would look like, but I was mostly worried about my sons’ spirit being crushed, if he had dreams and expectations and it ended up not happening,” Jessica admits. “But Josh just seems so humble. I feel like in regards to being a mentor, he's perfect for Elijah, teaching him some humility, and nutrition and good work ethic.”

“He’s kinda like me, honestly,” Richardson says of Elijah. “We don’t really talk a lot around new people and I understand how to approach that. He’s shy at first, but once you kind of get to know him and get talking to him, he’s really funny, he’s expressive.”


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          (Photo courtesy of Sixers.com) 

Elijah’s spirits have been far from crushed. On Sunday night, which also coincided with Military Appreciation Night, Elijah was out on the court at Wells Fargo Center helping Richardson go through his pregame warmup prior to being introduced as the Strong Kid of the Game.

And as for that smile that his mom drove two hours to see last month, it was back and brighter than ever.

“It was really fun,” Elijah says moments after running off the court with his new friend. “I was kinda freaking out, though, because Mike Scott was also there shooting free throws … but it's not just Mike Scott, it's Mike Scott! I was freaking out.”

“I’ll holler at you after, bro,” Richardson shouts out in the hallway.



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