The 5 most overrated Sixers since 2000

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The 5 most overrated Sixers since 2000

Some players have been overrated by the fans. Some by the organization itself. Some were overhyped by people covering the team (whoops!).

We look at the five most overrated Sixers since the year 2000.

5. Elton Brand
It feels a little wrong to put Brand on this list, but the Sixers did offer the team’s current GM a big-time contract. Injuries kept Brand from looking like the player that was selected first overall in 1999 and made two All-Star teams.

Before signing with the Sixers, Brand averaged 20.3 points, 10.2 rebounds and 2.1 blocks a game over nine seasons. Those numbers went down to 13.3, 7.4 and 1.3 during his first stint in Philly. While Brand played a key role, he never lived up to the hype of the “Philly max” deal he signed.

4. Nik Stauskas
Then-GM Sam Hinkie masterminded the trade that brought in Stauskas, Carl Landry, Jason Thompson, a first-round pick and the famous pick swap for peanuts. Stauskas was the eighth overall pick in 2014. It seemed like maybe he was just in a dysfunctional environment in Sacramento and perhaps the new surroundings would unlock his potential.

That never happened. Stauskas’ elite shooting from college didn’t translate to the NBA. At the beginning of his third season with the team, he was traded to the Nets along with Jahlil Okafor in what turned into a pure salary dump. Just 26 years old, Stauskas is currently out of the league and spent this season playing overseas.

3. Kenny Thomas
Thomas was a solid player in Houston and the trade the Sixers made to get him worked out well. The issue is that the team then locked him up with a seven-year, $50 million extension.

Thomas was fine. He averaged 12 points and 8.7 rebounds a game in parts of three seasons with the Sixers. It just wasn’t a prudent move by then-GM Billy King to dole out a deal like that to an OK player. Thomas was part of the Chris Webber trade and then dealt with injuries in Sacramento before retiring in 2010 at the age of 32. 

2. Michael Carter-Williams
When Carter-Williams won the Rookie of the Year award in 2014, many Sixers fans thought this would be the guy that brought the team out the other side of The Process. After nearly recording a quadruple-double in a stunning NBA debut, he averaged 16.7 points, 6.3 assists, 6.2 assists and 1.9 steals a game in his first season.

That’s why so many fans were upset when Hinkie decided to trade Carter-Williams just 41 games into his second NBA season. Hinkie noticed the limitations sooner than most and took a generous offer from Milwaukee. Carter-Williams, now 28, has bounced around the league since, eventually finding a role as a reserve in Orlando.

1. Nerlens Noel
Before a torn ACL ended his freshman year at Kentucky, there was buzz that Noel could be the No. 1 overall pick in 2013. Instead he slipped to the New Orleans Hornets at No. 6. In a move that you could argue was the catalyst for The Process, All-Star guard Jrue Holiday was traded to New Orleans for the rights to Noel and a 2014 first-round pick.

While Noel showed glimpses of being the type of modern big teams covet with his ability to run rim to rim, the Sixers’ frontcourt was far too crowded with Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor — an honorable mention since he wasn't overrated for very long — also in the fold.

Noel was traded to the Mavericks in a deal that has little to show for it. He's turned into an important reserve big for the surprising Thunder. He’s still just 25 years old, so there’s a chance he could still become more.

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What’s in a name? Alec Burks, Trey Burke and where Sixers stand without Ben Simmons

What’s in a name? Alec Burks, Trey Burke and where Sixers stand without Ben Simmons

When Ben Simmons missed his first game of this season on Nov. 8 because of an AC joint sprain in his right shoulder, Raul Neto started and Trey Burke played 17:34 as the Sixers’ backup point guard.

Burke was waived in February and is now a member of the Dallas Mavericks. Brett Brown, however, often uses Burke’s surname when he’s talking about Alec Burks, whose addition prompted the release of Burke.

The prior sentence was likely confusing, but let's be clear: Brown knows the player who scored 22 points Friday night and closed out the Sixers’ 108-101 win over the Magic (see observations). He’s colorfully discussed Burks’ “streetball-type game” and “lightning in a bottle” potential, and he had more praise to dish out Friday. 

You just felt confident that something as simple as a spaced pick-and-roll — put Al (Horford) or (Joel Embiid) in, roll Joel, let Alec dance … it was a clean, simple environment that I thought he really was excellent in. He can get into the paint at times and just play bully ball. And he has the ability to create his own shot — he sometimes doesn’t even need a pick-and-roll. And so all of those things were part of the reason that I extended his minutes, and maybe none more importantly, I think, than his defense.

“I think he’s really taken pride in knowing the scouting report. I think he’s sitting in a stance and taking pride in not getting beat on the first or second dribble with live-dribble guys. And so the package just enabled me to play him more than I normally have been, and I think he was a major contributor to the win. He was our bell ringer tonight, and we need him doing those types of things going forward.

With Simmons sidelined by a left patella subluxation, Burks’ abilities to run a pick-and-roll and conjure offense from nothing become more valuable. In truth, though, his strengths are skills the Sixers lacked back in October. It’s why Burke — the 6-foot Allen Iverson admirer, not the 6-foot-6 University of Colorado product — held appeal as a backup point guard possibility. Many of the themes we’ve heard from Brown about instant offense and shot creation echo. 

“I think my skill set adjusts well — playing great in the pick-and-roll and I can read the defense, find open people,” Burks said. “I’m just trying to thrive in that and help the team any way I can.”

The Sixers need these traits because zero members of their original starting lineup have them. Josh Richardson, the player who comes closest to resembling that mould, shot 2 for 12 vs. the Magic and has struggled to find his spots in an offense where he’s far from the first option. The fact that Shake Milton can handle the ball, conduct a pick-and-roll and hit open shots boosted his case to start, as basic as it sounds. 

Though Burks and Milton’s minutes were staggered with the exception of an early-fourth quarter stretch, there were encouraging signs from both players individually. Milton had six points, a career-high eight assists and only one turnover in 25 minutes. Since turning it over three times in the Sixers’ seeding game opener, he has two turnovers in 78 minutes. 

“With Shake, he’s going to continue to figure it out,” Horford said. “Obviously we all haven’t played together, and that makes a difference. He continues to feel it out, he continues to understand how he needs to play. And he was good tonight. He was solid, making the right plays … not turning the ball over. 

“And then Alec, he just has the ability to score in bunches, and we need that. We just need to continue to keep him involved and put him in positions where he can help us.”

Horford started Friday alongside Milton, as he’d done on March 11 in the Sixers’ final game before the NBA’s hiatus. He played well, posting 21 points and nine rebounds, and adding a physicality that Brown appreciated. 

Despite the aforementioned positives, the Sixers trailed the 32-38 Magic by two points after three quarters. Competent ball handling and shotmaking in Simmons’ absence is necessary, but it's fair to be skeptical about whether that would be enough in the playoffs against a team like the Celtics or Bucks. After all, none of the Sixers’ three wins at Disney World have been comfortable or against top-tier opposition. 

“It’s hard to replace Ben,” Horford said. “He does a lot for our group. The way that we’re looking at it is we all just have to step up a little more. It’s going to give opportunities to guys from the bench and other guys to come in to have an impact. We really don’t know. We don’t know, we just hope that he’s able to get healthy and get healthy quickly.”

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Sixers Talk podcast: Alec Burks is earning more minutes

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Sixers Talk podcast: Alec Burks is earning more minutes

On this edition of the Sixers Talk podcast, Danny Pommells, Paul Hudrick and Ben Berry discuss:

(1:11) — The Sixers' play in the bubble doesn't leave us with any confidence.
(5:45) — Embiid, Simmons and Horford do not fit together.
(11:45) — Should Alec Burks be higher in the rotation?
(20:55) — Josh Richardson looks out of sorts.
(24:04) — Draymond Green critical of Joel Embiid's play.
(33:40) — The reasons to be optimistic are shrinking.

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