76ers

NBA admits mistake that leaves Sixers scratching their heads

ap-brett-brown-sixers-thunder.jpg
AP Images

NBA admits mistake that leaves Sixers scratching their heads

CAMDEN, N.J. — The Sixers were right.

The Sixers argued they should have set up at halfcourt, not fullcourt, for a decisive final possession of double overtime in Friday’s game against the Thunder. After a closer look following their triple-overtime loss, the NBA ruled the Sixers were proved correct. 

“After review, it was determined that the 76ers called timeout with 00:01.2 remaining on the game clock, which was prior to Saric's (PHI) dribble. Therefore, they should have been given the opportunity to advance the ball into their own frontcourt for the inbound,” the NBA Officiating’s Last Two Minute Report noted.

The confusion occurred at the end of the second overtime. Dario Saric got a defensive rebound and the Sixers called a timeout before he dribbled the ball. Because of this, the Sixers should have been allowed to set up a final play in the halfcourt, which is exactly what they had practiced and called.

But the referees made a last-second change as the Sixers were setting up. The Sixers were told they had to inbound from fullcourt, which would have been the case if Saric had dribbled before the timeout. The Last Two Minute Report indicated he, in fact, did not. 

“Respect that they are that transparent, but complete disappointment that it can happen,” Brett Brown said Sunday. “You really scratch your head. It’s significant.”

Every play, every basket can make a difference for a team fighting to make the playoffs. The Sixers were confident they could have won the game with the halfcourt play. Instead, they dropped back down to .500 and currently 10 in the Eastern Conference.

“Those things you need to avoid to give yourself every chance to win,” Brown said. “We can point to many other things that were self-inflicted wounds that we’ve got to do better. But when it’s that exposed and that prominent of an environment with 1.2 seconds left, it’s disappointing. But like I say, they’re transparent. I respect the fact they admitted it and we move on.”

Haughton's 2018 Sixers mock draft 2.0: Kevin Knox now at No. 10

Haughton's 2018 Sixers mock draft 2.0: Kevin Knox now at No. 10

Now that NBA draft night is officially upon us, we take one final crack at what the Sixers might do with their selections. Here is Matt Haughton’s final Sixers mock draft.

First round (10th overall): Kevin Knox, SF/PF, 6-9/215, Kentucky
Brett Brown is new to this whole front office thing, so forgive him if the typical draft smoke screen scenario isn’t yet his forte. 

That means while reports keep circulating about the Sixers looking to move up for a top-five prospect, their actions have shown they’ve zeroed in on Knox. After all, Knox worked out in a group setting for the Sixers last Friday and was already back at their training facility for an individual session on Tuesday.

Knox made his mark during his lone season at Kentucky by averaging 15.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 32.4 minutes per game. The versatile forward proved he could contribute while at the same time just scratching the surface of his ability.

It’s that potential that I believe will make the Sixers pull the trigger on Knox. While there could certainly be more established commodities on the board at No. 10 such as Mikal Bridges or Miles Bridges, the fact that Knox is still just 18 years old and possesses a sky-high upside will be too much for the development-minded Brown to pass up.

First round (26th overall): Gary Trent Jr., SG, 6-6/209, Duke
With 11 players currently under contract and plans to chase big-name players in free agency, this pick could certainly be on its way out of town or devoted to a draft-and-stash prospect. 

If they do hang onto it, the Sixers obviously have eyes for Texas Tech high-flyer Zhaire Smith, who also worked out twice for the team. But he’s unlikely to make it to No. 26.

Instead, the Sixers opt for a Duke guard here, but perhaps not the one you were thinking (Grayson Allen). Trent has arguably the best shooting stroke in the entire 2018 class and has been trending up draft boards.

Trent, who averaged 14.5 points per game for the Blue Devils as a freshman, hit 40.2 percent of his shots from long range on a healthy 6.5 attempts per game.

With another former Duke guard potentially walking in free agency in JJ Redick, the Sixers could slip Trent in to help take on some of those dead-eye shooting duties.

Second round (38th overall): Elie Okobo, PG/SG, 6-2/180, France
The Sixers already started dealing off their stockpile of second-round picks on Wednesday when they reportedly shipped No. 39 to the Los Angeles Lakers for a 2019 second-rounder and cash.

Look for them to find a way to keep their final roster options open by selecting Okobo, who has even been getting some first-round consideration as of late. The Sixers hosted him for a workout a season ago before he removed his name from draft consideration and again during this pre-draft process.

The French combo guard increased his production virtually across for France Pro A squad Elan Bearnais Pau-Lacq-Orthez this past season as he recorded 12.9 points on 47.6 percent field goal shooting and 39.4 three-point shooting to go along with 4.7 assists and 2.7 boards a game.

Second round (56th overall): Arnoldas Kulboka, SF, 6-10/220, Lithuania​
In another decision to keep roster slots fluid, the Sixers go the international route again with Kulboka.

The wing has tremendous size for the position and is just beginning to see his potential. Kulboka made his first foray into Italy’s second division league, Serie A2 Basket, this past season. He played for Orlandina Basket and posted 9.0 points on 39.0 percent field goal shooting and 37.4 percent from distance. He added 4.0 rebounds in 26.7 minutes a contest.

Kulboka definitely needs to bulk up and add some more seasoning against a higher level of competition, but if he develops, he could be a steal at this point in the draft.

Second round (60th overall): Trade
There are always teams that jump up with a trade offer at the last minute in an attempt to get a coveted player in those final few slots. Expect that to happen here and the Sixers to oblige.

More on the Sixers

NBA draft profile: Duke G Grayson Allen

NBA draft profile: Duke G Grayson Allen

Grayson Allen

Position: Guard

Height: 6-4

Weight: 195

School: Duke

For a good chunk of NBA players, their first professional season is all about adjustments. Adapting to a new city/teammates, the speed/physicality of the game, increased travel, etc.

Another major change is going from being mostly revered in any arena you step inside to instantly becoming a target of fans’ abuse away from home.

That won’t be a problem for Duke product Grayson Allen. He was the subject of just about every taunt imaginable during his four years as a Blue Devil. And while a lot of the criticism he brought on himself, Allen has matured and now simply lets his game do the talking.

Strengths
Allen’s biggest asset is that he’s a chameleon on the court. 

You need him to provide a spark on a team full of stars? He becomes the energizing sixth man like his freshman season when Duke won a national title. Want him to be your go-to scorer? He turns up the offense such as his sophomore campaign when he averaged 21.6 points a game on 46.6 percent shooting. Need him to run the show? Allen morphs into a primary playmaker similar to his senior year when he recorded a career-high 4.6 assists.

In all, Allen posted 14.1 points, 3.2 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.0 steal a night during his collegiate career. He also proved to be a capable long-range shooter as he connected on 38.0 percent of his three-pointers.

Not bad for a guy that was under constant scrutiny because …

Weaknesses
… Allen couldn’t control his emotions on the floor.

There were the well-documented tripping incidents and ensuing suspension. Allen also was known to lose his cool on the bench when things weren’t going his way between the lines.

“It’s something that comes from my competitiveness,” Allen said to reporters at the combine. “Competitiveness that I’ve had as a player, competitiveness that was pointed in the wrong direction and went over the line. It’s obviously something that I needed to work on.”

And while the Jacksonville, Florida, native was able to finally get his emotions under control, he’s only going to be tested even more at the next level by trash-talking players and fans.

In addition, the fact that Allen stayed at Duke for all four years is viewed as a bit of a knock in the NBA. While he tested the waters multiple times, his decision to remain in Durham is seen in some circles that the now-22-year-old was never fully comfortable making the leap in competition.

NBA comparison
A hated Duke player that plays the shooting guard position? Has to be JJ Redick, right? 

While there are certainly some comparable experiences between Allen and Redick, that’s not an actual basketball link we’re ready to make. Instead, Allen is much more in the mold of Miami guard Tyler Johnson. Both players have sneaky athleticism, can handle the ball and stretch their jumpers out to the three-point line well enough for opposing defenses to respect their range.

How he’d fit with Sixers
The Sixers hosted Allen for a private workout earlier this month under the watchful eye of then-president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo. While Colangelo has since resigned, the team’s interest in Allen still makes sense.

He would be able to spot up alongside Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid to knock down open shots, while also being able to take on the burden of ball-handling duties when asked. 

He may struggle to stay in front of some of the quicker players in the NBA, but he does have the explosion at the basket to make up for it and one of the best rim protecters in the game in Embiid if he gets completely beaten by his man.

Draft projection
Allen’s name can be found popping up for teams selecting anywhere from the early 20s to early in the second round. If his name is still on the board at No. 26 and the Sixers are still holding onto that pick, they will give some consideration to choosing the versatile guard.

More on the Sixers