76ers

2020 NBA draft profile: Leandro Bolmaro is a dazzling playmaker with room to grow

2020 NBA draft profile: Leandro Bolmaro is a dazzling playmaker with room to grow

Leandro Bolmaro

Position: G/F
Height: 6-7
Weight: 185
Team: FC Barcelona

Like many other international players before him, Leandro Bolmaro began playing professional basketball at a very young age. By the time he was 16, he was suiting up for Weber Bahia in his native Argentina. His strong showing at the 2017 FIBA U17 South American Championships is part of what led to an opportunity with FC Barcelona.

Bolmaro has mostly bided his time with their second team since. At just 19 this past season, Bolmaro flashed during his time with the big club and showed an ability to be a primary ball handler in a professional setting. It's gotten him serious draft buzz.

Strengths

The playmaking ability at his size and age is unreal. You can see why FC Barcelona used him in a ball-dominant role. He takes risks but also threads in some of the prettiest passes you’ll see. His court vision is special. He comes across a little flashier than your typical international prospect.

For a player standing 6-foot-7, he has an impressive handle. He doesn’t have elite quickness, but he changes speeds well. He should be able to create for himself and others, especially against taller defenders. He has potential to be an elite pick-and-roll player if he get his jumper right. 

He has decent size and is a decent athlete — both should be good enough to hang with NBA athletes. Defensively, his effort level is extremely high. He moves his feet well and isn’t afraid to fight through screens. 

While Bolmaro already has a decent amount of pro experience, he’s still just 19. There's plenty of room to grow.

Weaknesses

While Bolmaro will make dazzling plays, he can also be bit a reckless, which can lead to turnovers. This is expected at such a young age. 

The biggest concern may be with his shot. He hit just 27.1 percent of his threes in 23 games this season. The free throw percentage also isn’t very good for a perimeter player at 69.4 percent. The shot doesn’t look completely broken, but it will need serious retooling.

Though the game is increasingly going in a positionless direction, it’s still a little bit of a concern that I’m not sure what Bolmaro will play and guard at the next level. He has point guard-type skills, but likely lacks the agility to defend NBA ones. He has the height to play on the wing but will need to add strength. You’d also have to worry about his shooting if you have him in an off-ball role.

While he has professional experience, it's not extensive and not at the highest levels of the EuroLeague. He’ll likely need more seasoning overseas or in the G League.

Fit

The shot would be my biggest concern but Bolmaro would be an intriguing secondary ball handler on the floor with Ben Simmons. I'd like him as an overseas stash. While bringing him over to play in Delaware could be beneficial so he has the ball in his hands and learns your system, he'd also tie up a roster spot.

Bolmaro is getting buzz as a possible late first-rounder. In that case, the Sixers would likely either need to trade back from 22 or leverage 34 and 36 to get back into the first round. While there are lots of things to like about Bolmaro, there's still plenty of risk there.

He's not likely to help you right away and will need development time — but the risk could be worth it to get such a special playmaker.

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Ron Brooks, virtual fans and what to expect for Sixers' 'home' games

Ron Brooks, virtual fans and what to expect for Sixers' 'home' games

The Sixers have yet to lose a home game this calendar year.

Monday night, they’ll look to maintain their home excellence, just not at Wells Fargo Center. They lost their seeding game opener at Disney World, a designated road matchup against the Pacers, and "host" the Spurs tonight.

The team has worked to replicate the environment in which the Sixers went 29-2 this season as closely as possible.

“We want to keep that going,” Sixers Chief Marketing Office Katie O'Reilly told NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Paul Hudrick in an interview Monday. “Our fans are incredible. Our season ticket members are incredible, they’re loyal, they’re passionate. They really create that environment.”

For Monday's game against San Antonio, you’ll see on screens courtside “virtual fans," which will include, according to O’Reilly, “season ticket members, our marketing partners, our community partners, as well as friends and family of the players.” Those virtual fans have been given packs that have T-shirts, hats and noisemakers.

Several unique features of a typical Wells Fargo Center game night aren’t going anywhere. PA announcer Matt Cord has some pre-recorded segments, and, per O’Reilly, the beloved Ron Brooks — “the world’s first double amputee to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout,” as Cord always introduces him — will still be belting out the national anthem. 

“Even in-arena for our home games, we’ll have Ron Brooks, our guy, singing the national anthem,” O’Reilly said. “We’ll have our traditional bell ringing, we’ll have our player intros, we’ll have our open video. So that sort of entire pregame ritual that we have will run really exactly the same, just virtually on video.”

And the Wendy’s Frosty Freeze-out? 

“If someone misses two (straight) free throws, you will still be able to redeem for your free Frosty,” O’Reilly said. 

The roar of the crowd obviously won’t be nearly as loud or intense after a big play, but many of the “sounds of the game” should be familiar for players. O’Reilly didn’t mention the boos that both Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid hope to hear if the Sixers aren’t playing well, but player input factored into the new home gameday experience. 

“Our players are constantly collaborating with our marketing and game operations department on the look and feel,” O’Reilly said, “and they really feed off that home energy, so it was important for us to maintain as much of it as we could down in Orlando, and we’re excited to see it come to life tonight.

“Our players’ voices are always heard. We’re always receiving feedback from everybody, whether it’s front office, season ticket members, the players, the coaches, and we really take pride in delivering on that. … Every player has a song that they get to pick to play in-arena when they make a big play or a big shot. So it is really important to us that we sort of curate the experience based on everyone who is there, and we’re collaborating all the time.”

Given how invincible the Sixers appeared at home before the coronavirus pandemic forced the season to pause, the idea to essentially duplicate a normal home atmosphere that players feel comfortable in seems intuitive. We'll learn soon just how effective it is.  

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

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

Updated: 1:48 p.m. 

The Sixers (39-27) and Spurs (29-36) will meet Monday over eight months after their first matchup this season, a 115-104 Sixers win on Nov. 22. It’s technically a home game for the Sixers, the team’s first since March 11. They were 29-2 at Wells Fargo Center. 

Mike Scott (right knee soreness) is out and Glenn Robinson III (left hip pointer) is doubtful. Kyle O'Quinn missed his coronavirus test on Sunday and is not eligible to play, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium.

Here are the essentials for tonight’s game:

When: 8 p.m. ET with Sixers Pregame Live at 7 
Where: Visa Athletic Center
Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app

And here are three storylines to watch: 

An outlier opener? 

In several ways, Saturday’s defeat to the Pacers wasn’t like most for the Sixers this season.

The team outscored Indiana by a point in nine Joel Embiid-Al Horford minutes but saw their 10-point fourth-quarter lead evaporate when Horford stepped in at center, the opposite of the trend this year. The starting backcourt combined for four points on five field goal attempts. Turnover problems that had characterized seasons past resurfaced as the Sixers gave it away 14 times in the first half and 21 times in the game. They’d been 10th in turnovers (14.2 per game) before the hiatus. Ben Simmons’ defense was not anywhere close to as great as it’s been for much of the season. 

A loss is a loss, but perhaps the Sixers on Monday will look more like the team we saw in their first 65 games. 

Another size disparity 

Jakob Poeltl is the only traditional frontcourt player in San Antonio’s starting lineup, which means the Sixers will again have plenty of size advantages. With LaMarcus Aldridge out for the season after right shoulder surgery, DeMar DeRozan is the Spurs’ second-tallest starter at 6-foot-6. Shake Milton and Josh Richardson are the Sixers’ shortest starters at 6-5. 

The Spurs have opened well at Disney World, winning their first two games and moving into ninth in the Western Conference, but the Sixers will present a unique challenge. 

'Walking that line'

Brett Brown doesn’t generally have an endless level of patience with younger players. He’s sometimes quick to pull the plug when they make mistakes or have trouble adjusting to a new situation.

Following Milton’s poor first game in the new starting lineup (no points, three assists, three turnovers, five fouls), it will be interesting to see Brown’s approach if Milton struggles again early. 

“The tolerance level … whether it’s trying to persevere and grow Shake, whether it’s the distribution of how you actually use Ben Simmons, all of those things are always on my mind,” he said Sunday. “It’s the launching pad that we have now where you’ve got some games before you enter the playoffs. And life moves quickly where you get stuck in this current where you’re going to blink and the playoffs are going to be right at your doorstep. 

“Walking that line of persevering and patience vs. gut feel — you like it or you don’t — that ecosystem is my job.”

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