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Sixers might not have to look far for perfect NBA draft prospect

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AP Images

Sixers might not have to look far for perfect NBA draft prospect

Mikal Bridges will be starting the next chapter of his basketball career shortly. After helping lead Villanova to a second national championship in three years, Bridges will almost certainly announce soon he's declaring for the 2018 NBA draft. 

Bridges has another year of eligibility remaining, but he's projected to be a lottery pick. The smart thing for Bridges to do is getting his professional career started. Last month, Jay Wright joked he'd "kick out" Bridges if he wanted to come back to school.

There's not much else for Bridges to accomplish at Villanova. He averaged just under 18 points and over five rebounds as a junior, earning the third team All-American honors. He was a first-team All-Big East selection and the Most Outstanding Player of the Big East Tournament. Above all else, Bridges is a winner. He went 103-13 the last three years at Villanova and won two Big East regular season championships, two Big East Tournaments and of course, two national championships.

The question now, what's next? He's spent his entire life in the Philadelphia area. He was born in the city and starred at nearby Great Valley High School before going to Villanova. There's a realistic chance he could stay in Philly to begin his NBA career. In addition to the Sixers' own first-round pick, which will be somewhere in the 20's, they also have the Lakers' first rounder provided it doesn't fall between the second or fifth pick. At the moment, L.A. has the best odds to receive the 10th pick, which would convey to the Sixers.

Bridges is projected to be in the mid-to-late lottery range, around 10th. The Sixers could do a lot worse than selecting Bridges with the Lakers' pick. He's NBA-ready. He'd have no trouble stepping in to the Sixers' rotation and playing a complementary role to Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. Bridges is an outstanding perimeter defender and has demonstrated the ability to knock down the three-point shot consistently, traits valued tremendously in today's NBA.  

No less an authority on the NBA game than Kevin Durant has already called Bridges his favorite prospect in this year's draft. He's capable of making an impact on Day 1 and will be a great cultural addition to whatever NBA locker room he joins. As an added bonus, there would already be a familiar face in the Sixers' organization. Bridges' mother, Tyneeha Rivers, is the global vice president for human resources for Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, the company that oversees Sixers' personnel.

It would be a great story and a great fit. A player who won at a historical level in college joining an NBA team on the cusp of winning big and Bridges wouldn't have to leave his hometown to do it.

Sixers Talk podcast: Is Ben Simmons an All-Star? A reunion with Robert Covington?

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Sixers Talk podcast: Is Ben Simmons an All-Star? A reunion with Robert Covington?

On the latest Sixers Talk podcast presented by Wilmington University, Danny Pommells and Paul Hudrick discuss Ben Simmons' recent play since Joel Embiid went out with an injury, how alarming the Al Horford situation is becoming, and a possible reunion with Robert Covington.

• No, Simmons hasn't scored late in games, but he's been attacking the rim and causing opponents to make plenty of business decisions.

• How worried should we be about Horford's up-and-down season?

• Would a RoCo reunion make sense? What would you give up?

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Sixers Injury Update: Al Horford is questionable vs. Nets with left hand sprain

Sixers Injury Update: Al Horford is questionable vs. Nets with left hand sprain

The Sixers might be without their best two center options for Monday afternoon’s game against the Brooklyn Nets.

Al Horford is questionable with a left hand sprain. He sustained the injury with 6:31 left in the third quarter Saturday night vs. the Knicks after being fouled by Reggie Bullock.

"Yeah, I just took a fall there, landed on the hand,” Horford told reporters. “We’ll see where we’re at tomorrow. It’s pretty sore right now, but I’m just glad I was able to stay in the game and give the team whatever I could. … It’s definitely uncomfortable. In this game you always play through injuries and things like that. I just wanted to make sure that I did what I could. We’ll see where I’m at tomorrow, and hopefully good to go for Monday.”

Horford scored a season-low four points vs. the Knicks on 2 for 9 shooting. In the six games since Joel Embiid has been out because of a torn ligament in the ring finger of his left hand, the Sixers have gone 4-2 with Horford as their starting center.

According to multiple reports, Norvel Pelle will be listed as available but his status could change. The team is in a precarious situation with Pelle, who has one NBA day remaining on his two-way contract. The Sixers have opted against converting Pelle to an NBA deal for the time being to prioritize flexibility ahead of the Feb. 6 trade deadline, which has left them in this spot. The 26-year-old rookie has played 13 NBA games and averaged 2.6 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.5 blocks.

On Friday vs. the Bulls, the Sixers decided not to use up one of Pelle’s NBA days, and Kyle O’Quinn played nearly 16 minutes, his first action of 2020.

It looks like Ben Simmons playing some at center could be a possibility. Brett Brown used Simmons as a small-ball five in the first half on Jan. 9 vs. Boston and after the game said, “I suspect you’ll see it again.”

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