76ers

2019 NBA draft profile: Despite ACL injury, Sixers should strongly consider Auburn's Chuma Okeke

2019 NBA draft profile: Despite ACL injury, Sixers should strongly consider Auburn's Chuma Okeke

Position: Forward 

Height: 6-foot-8

Weight: 230 pounds 

School: Auburn

Chuma Okeke was having one of the best nights of his college career on March 29, with 20 points and 11 rebounds as Auburn held a 14-point second-half lead on North Carolina in the Sweet 16. Then, after making a cut to the left block and pump faking on Cameron Johnson, his left knee buckled. The sophomore, who averaged 12 points and 6.8 rebounds last season, tore his ACL. As he watched the rest of their run to the Final Four from the sidelines, Okeke’s teammates aimed to “Do it for Chuma,” an indication of their respect and admiration for him.

Strengths

He checks off both the “3” and the “D” boxes, and that’s not all he can do. Okeke shot 38.9 percent from three-point territory at Auburn and is comfortable both spotting up and in the pick-and-pop. He has decent touch around the rim and is a capable post scorer as well, which should aid his ability to play as a power forward in certain lineups in the NBA. Defensively, Okeke has a terrific combination of length and anticipation, and a knack for creating an impact. He was in the top-10 in the SEC in both steal percentage and block percentage. The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor thinks Okeke has “shades of” Robert Covington, which is a reasonable comparison given Okeke's skills as a three-point shooter and stellar off-ball defender. His offensive rebounding, cutting and passing are all positives as well. 

Weaknesses

Okeke, like Covington doesn’t have much of a mid-range game and isn’t great at driving to the rim or finding his own shot. In the conventional sense, he’s not an exceptional NBA athlete — Okeke is likely not going to sprint past many players or wow you with too many high-flying dunks. One of the primary concerns about Okeke is, of course, the ACL injury and the uncertainty about when he might be able to return to the court.

Fit 

Once he’s healthy, Okeke seems like he would be a near-perfect fit for the Sixers as someone who will positively contribute in a variety of areas, primarily as a shooter and defender. There’s risk in drafting a player recovering from a serious injury, yes, but the risk of Okeke not panning out on the court appears low. You don’t have to hold out hope that he’ll develop promising but raw skills or turn athleticism into production the way you do with many prospects. It would make sense for the Sixers to consider him with the 24th pick, and it would be difficult to pass on him if he’s available at No. 33.

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Uh Oh: Stephen A. Smith is predicting HUGE things for Sixers this season

Uh Oh: Stephen A. Smith is predicting HUGE things for Sixers this season

Stephen A. Smith's track record of predicting things is suspect to say the least.

So it's with great trepidation that Philadelphia 76ers fans should watch the below clip in which he predicts an NBA Finals appearance for Brett Brown's club this coming season.

Smith made the prediction on ESPN's First Take on Friday morning while sitting alongside NBA legend Magic Johnson (the joke about tampering with Giannis may have been the highlight of the segment).

"The Philadelphia 76ers are going to the NBA Finals," Smith declares. "I'm going to defer to my man Jalen Rose when he points out that Boston arguably has the best perimeter shooting team. We can't ignore that. Toronto lost Kawhi, ain't nothing to discuss. The Greek Freak, as phenomenal as he is, the combo of not having a reliable perimeter shot combined with Malcolm Brogdon being in Indiana..."

"My attitude is, I don't like the fact that Philly lost JJ Redick, that's a big loss to me," Smith continues. "The fact that Boston no longer has Al Horford and the Sixers do, not only somebody to pair with Embiid but to spell him whenever he's out. I'm going to believe Ben Simmons has been working on his shot. I'm going to believe Tobias Harris doesn't have to worry about co-existing with Jimmy Butler and that's a plus. I'm going to believe Josh Richardson can play at both ends of the floor..."

"I'm a little suspect on their bench, but I think the Sixers are going to be playing in June."

On the bright side for Philly fans, it's not like Smith is making some bold proclamation here. FiveThirtyEight's prediction model actually gives the Sixers the best chances of making the Finals of any team in the NBA given the East's weaker make up than the West. In fact, they give the Sixers almost twice as good a chance of doing so than the next closest Eastern contender the Bucks (54% vs. 27%).

So Stephen A. isn't going out on a limb, but it never feels great when he picks your squad in anything.

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Sixers tease new red Statement jerseys that differ from last season's

76ers_red_statement_jersey.jpg
@ChrisHeck76

Sixers tease new red Statement jerseys that differ from last season's

The Sixers' Statement Edition jerseys last year were the red uniforms that said "Sixers" across the front in an interesting script. It appears those jerseys will be different for the 2019-2020 season.

Chris Heck, President of the Sixers and Mr. #OnBrand, tweeted out an image of the new jerseys that look quite similar to last season's but instead of "Sixers" across the front they have the familiar "Phila" in script.

Give it a look below:

The jerseys also have the familiar stars down the side of the jersey. The team hasn't made an official announcement just yet so it's unclear what other details may have changed from season to season.

This Statement Edition will join the two regular jerseys, Icon Edition (standard blue) and Association Edition (standard white), alongside the recently unveiled Classic Edition jerseys that feature a throwback to the 70s look with that very interesting "Seventy Sixers" across the front and Ben Simmons sitting in a dope old-school car.

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