76ers

NBA draft profile: Alabama G Collin Sexton

NBA draft profile: Alabama G Collin Sexton

Collin Sexton

Position: Guard

Height: 6-3

Weight: 190

School: Alabama

After a scuffle broke out in the second half of Alabama-Minnesota last November, every player on the Crimson Tide’s bench came onto the court, resulting in ejections for all and leaving Bama with just five players to finish the game. Minutes later, an Alabama player fouled out. Less than a minute after that, another left with an injury. Trailing by 13, Alabama would have to play the final 10-plus minutes 3-on-5.

And Collin Sexton nearly willed them to victory.

Sexton scored 17 of his 40 points while playing at a two-man disadvantage and got Alabama within three points late in an eventual 89-84 loss.

That heroic performance in a loss was a microcosm of Sexton’s lone season in Tuscaloosa. There weren’t those notable glorious achievements of making an All-American team, winning a conference championship or earning a Sweet 16 bid, but the pursuit of those goals with the Crimson Tide on Sexton’s back was thrilling to watch.

Sporting a top-20 usage rate in the country, Sexton was a one-man band at ‘Bama. The electrifying point guard averaged 19.9 points and 3.6 assists en route to being named SEC Co-Freshman of the Year. Sexton also put on a show in the SEC Tournament, carrying No. 9 Alabama to the semifinals with a game-winning buzzer beater and a 31-point effort in an upset over No. 1 Auburn. Those performances helped Bama lock down its first NCAA tournament trip since 2011-12.

Strengths 
The first thing that jumps off the screen while watching Sexton is the intensity he plays with. He’s Russell Westbrook-like in how passionate he is and it carries into his offensive game. Sexton is a downhill guard that relentlessly attacks the rim on fast breaks and in the half-court, as evidenced by his 7.6 free throw attempts per game. He possesses the handles and quickness to break down defenders and create separation for either a drive or a pull-up. He can use either hand in getting to the rim and finishing there.

Despite the offensive burden he shouldered, Sexton still managed to be efficient, shooting 44.5 percent from the field. And while he was clearly the most gifted offensive player on Alabama he was far from unselfish, as he only took 13.3 shots per game. Sexton's not an elite passer, but he's a willing one. In pick-and-rolls, he won't just put his head down and recklessly attack, but rather scan the entire floor and keep his dribble alive until making a decision.

On defense, he competes on-ball and has the frame (6-7 wingspan) and quickness to be a strong defender that can handle both guard positions.

Weaknesses 
There were some encouraging starting points for Sexton's shot at Alabama; he shot 77.8 percent on 252 free throw attempts and 33.6 percent on 131 threes. But there are questions as to how much he can develop and improve as a shooter. It's difficult to be an effective NBA guard without the threat of a shot, so how reliable Sexton's three-point shot and pull-up jumper are will have a large impact on his career trajectory.

He also needs to tighten his shot selection. He takes some ill-advised jumpers and tends to over-drive on attacks, leading to some tough contested shots at the rim. He'll have to work in a floater or short pull-up to combat that.

NBA comparison
From his on-court mentality to his athleticism and style of play, Sexton does resemble Westbrook. But Sexton has a ton of developing to do with his game and body to reach Westbrook’s level. With that in mind, Kemba Walker and Eric Bledsoe are much more reasonable comps.

How he would fit with the Sixers
This all comes down to Sexton’s shot. If the Sixers are optimistic about it, then he theoretically fits with Ben Simmons. There can never have enough ball handlers and creators on the court at the same time as long as the spacing works. Also, if Markelle Fultz doesn’t turn into the high-caliber player the Sixers hope he can, Sexton would provide some insurance as a secondary creator behind Simmons. And the Sixers, who had the lowest pick-and-roll frequency this season, could add a different look to their offense.

Draft projection 
Sexton seems to be a consensus mid-to-late lottery pick at this point. While Orlando would make sense at No. 6, his range will likely start with Cleveland two picks later. He shouldn’t make it past the Clippers at Nos. 12 and 13.

Saric's dad shares story of emotional goodbye between Dario and Brett Brown

Saric's dad shares story of emotional goodbye between Dario and Brett Brown

It’s getting really dusty in here.

Dario Saric is on his way to Minnesota as part of the Jimmy Butler trade and Dario’s father, Predrag, gave us a look at what happened behind the scenes as he departed. 

It’s easy to look at this trade from an on-the-court standpoint, but there’s a huge human element here with Dario. The way the city embraced The Process, and Saric’s role in that process, made him an instant fan-favorite. The discussions about whether or not he would come over, and then when he did, his personality when he got here, fostered the bond between Saric and the fans. We all saw his effort on the court and the twinkle in Brett Brown’s accent when he spoke about him in his press conferences.

It comes as no surprise that tears were shed as this four-year bond came to an end.

Like other well-liked players who have left Philadelphia, we’re looking forward to when Saric and the Timberwolves will return to The Center on Jan. 15, for what we expect will be a hero’s welcome for a guy who meant so much to a team and a city as anyone could in the span of four years. 

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Markelle Fultz stock watch: What does Jimmy Butler trade mean for Fultz?

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Markelle Fultz stock watch: What does Jimmy Butler trade mean for Fultz?

Every week this season, we’ll be taking a look at Markelle Fultz and how the 2017 No. 1 overall pick is progressing through his second NBA season.

The drama that is Markelle Fultz’s second NBA season took its weirdest turn yet last week.

We’ll get to Fultz’s performance over the last three games — including his jumper, of course — but first let’s take a look at what the Jimmy Butler trade means for him.

While Brett Brown has been adamant in wanting to start Fultz, that may change when Butler arrives. 

And I don’t view that as a bad thing. There have been several times over the past couple weeks where Fultz has been better during his second half stint off the bench. Not only has he been better with the ball in his hands as a point guard, but he’s actually given the Sixers a spark.

For now, I don’t believe it will affect his minutes too much. He’s been averaging 24.3 minutes a game and that’s likely where he’ll stay. Since he’ll be leading the second unit for most of the game, there’s a chance those minutes could be even more impactful.

With that said, it seems likely the Sixers will make at least one move to bolster their bench. When that happens, it’ll be interesting to see how that affects Fultz. Brown has said all season he’s been trying to find the balance between growing Fultz and winning. Elton Brand seems more interested in the latter. It looks like Fultz is finding a little chemistry with Ben Simmons. That experiment may continue for a few minutes a game, just not to start it.

Also, a Butler extension this summer could be an issue for Fultz's future with the team (see story).

As for his play last week, it’s been more of the same. He had his most efficient performance against Memphis, going 7 of 9 from the field and continuing to be aggressive driving and finishing at the rim. An encouraging sign is the multiple times he’s finished through contact.

Another reason it seems like Fultz’s issues are mental is the incremental improvements he’s made on both ends. As Brown has alluded, he’s playing much tougher on defense. He’s fighting through screens and being more physical. And on offense he’s had a killer instinct in wanting to get to the paint.

The shot has been and will continue to be an issue. Last week, it was most glaring at the free throw line, where Fultz made just 4 of 9. In the game vs. the Hornets on Friday, he shot just 3 of 6 and that weird hitch seemed to reappear. He took a nice mid-range J against the Grizzlies. It’s a rudimentary thing, but it looks like Fultz shoots better when he has less time to think and also when he’s stepping into his shot.

While there’s certainly concern over how Butler has interacted with young players in the past, it’ll be fascinating to see how it’ll go with Fultz. Perhaps Butler will push the 20-year-old in a positive direction … at least that’s the hope.

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