76ers

Will Ben Simmons be an All-Star?

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Will Ben Simmons be an All-Star?

Ben Simmons has made a strong All-Star push over his last three games (all Sixers wins) heading to London. I don't think he'll make it, even though he should make it as long as he continues playing the way he has lately. 

In wins over the Suns, Spurs and Pistons, he averaged 22.0 points (57.1 percent field goals, 18 for 27 free throws), 6.0 rebounds, 6.3 assists, 2.7 steals and 2.0 blocks. 

The problem is there are only six available spots for guards (two starting guard spots, two reserve guard spots, and two wild-card spots). Kyrie Irving, DeMar DeRozan, Victor Oladipo, Bradley Beal and John Wall are all perceived locks. That leaves one spot for Simmons and all the frontcourt players not named LeBron, Giannis and JoJo, who will be the likely starters. 

The reserves call is strictly on the coaches and it's hard to picture them leaving Kristaps Porzingis, Kevin Love and Andre Drummond off the team as the backup bigs. The result? One wild-card spot for Simmons, Al Horford, Khris Middleton or someone else.

It's one of the topics we tackle this week on Holding Court. We hit you with a New Year/New Sixers edition of the podcast (because it's definitely not New Year/New Us). Amy Fadool and I discuss a myriad of topics including why Simmons' All-Star chances will probably require an abacus, the only month Amy recognizes from a season ago, and how LaVar Ball is (still) polarizing (and relevant?) even though he's not even in the country.

1:40 — We talk January, looking back at 2017 and the present version a year later through Brett Brown's eyes.

2:55 — What the Sixers are focusing on right now (it's all about defense but a bit more specific than you might think).

3:48 — On Joel Embiid and when he might attempt to play the first back-to-back of his NBA career.

4:41 — That schedule, though ... four straight games against teams in playoff position.

6:24 — Amy explains that the Pistons may have been sluggish in the Sixers' blowout win because of their whereabouts the night before.

7:17 — Simmons is playing the best basketball of his NBA career and the Sixers are winning. Not a coincidence.

9:00 — All-Star voting and why Simmons should be in but probably won't.

14:57 — You don't want to hear about Paul Millsap ... but a Millsap-ian player could be the difference between Ben making it or not.

15:33 — There will be no better platform to get the All-Star votes up than Thursday's London game.

16:00 — Talk to LaVar Ball and you might get your NBA credentials snatched.

17:30 — Mandatory Golden State Warriors mention.

18:30 — Amy and Marshall disagree on how to handle LaVar.

20:08 — Blake Griffin is dating a Kardashian?

Sixers' No. 26 pick Landry Shamet is thrilled to be part of 'The Process'

Sixers' No. 26 pick Landry Shamet is thrilled to be part of 'The Process'

CAMDEN, N.J. — Back on Feb. 11, 2014, Landry Shamet, the Sixers’ pick with the No. 26 selection in the draft, sent out a tweet that, in retrospect is … interesting.

The Sixers had just lost, 123-80, to the Warriors. So chances are Shamet was joking.

However, Shamet clearly trusts the process. Check out this retweet, from Sep. 2017, as he was recovering from a broken right foot.

And notice the passion with which Shamet, normally not the most expressive person, defended the Sixers’ polarizing rebuilding mode under Sam Hinkie.

“You gotta respect the rebuild,” Shamet said after his introductory press conference Friday, “and have confidence to go out and say, ‘We’re rebuilding, and we know that.’ Take punches that [the media] was probably throwing at them at the time, to accept that over an 82-game season, you gotta give credit there where it’s due. And obviously, it’s a great time to be here.”

As if you needed more evidence, Shamet got a “Trust the Process” bracelet before the draft. An image of the bracelet is below, via Shamet's Instagram story. He had a feeling he was headed to the Sixers.

“You know sometimes you get that feeling in your chest, you just know?” Shamet said. “That was my hunch. I told a couple people, I was like, ‘I don’t know man, I just feel really good about Philly.’”

OK, so Shamet is a process believer. But can he help on the court? He’ll have to compete for minutes, but Brett Brown feels he has a good chance.

“There were a vast variety of offensive skills that suggested he can just play basketball,” Brown said. “He’s a combo guard. He certainly can shoot. You started looking at the creative playmaking and his handle and his vision finding people, you just felt like that can translate to a modern-day player.”

There’s no doubt Shamet, who made 44.2 percent of his three-point attempts last season, is an outstanding shooter. And he was an excellent facilitator as well at Wichita State, leading the American Athletic Conference in assists per game (5.2) and assist-to-turnover ratio (2.5).

The questions about Shamet’s lack of elite athleticism and smaller stature, however, are why he was widely projected as a second-round pick. It’s also fair to wonder what exactly Shamet’s role will be with the Sixers, given he’s not the long, three-and-D sort of wing that many thought the team would want to acquire.

Even if he doesn’t fit that traditional mold, Shamet thinks his consistent defensive effort and versatility will help him earn minutes.

“I was recruited as a two, which people forget about, so I honestly feel confident playing either guard spot,” Shamet said. “And even being a point guard, I don’t have to have the ball in my hands. I understand Ben [Simmons] is a guy that’s good at creating space, having the ball, playmaking. Getting to play with him, he’s going to make my life a lot easier finding me and being a willing passer, making plays. That’s exciting for sure. But I have confidence I can play off the ball, I honestly feel that’s a strength of mine.”

As far as attitude, Shamet feels Philadelphia is a fit. He trusts the process, and he thinks he can be part of the next stage, one that doesn’t regularly involve 40-plus point losses.

“Wichita State is very blue collar, so I understand working hard,” Shamet said. “I understand the fan base here in Philly. I’m just excited about that and I feel I fit here.”

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Trainer Drew Hanlen says Markelle Fultz's new shot is 'ahead of pace' after case of 'yips'

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Trainer Drew Hanlen says Markelle Fultz's new shot is 'ahead of pace' after case of 'yips'

Since Markelle Fultz arrived at Sixers training camp last season, there has been a mystery surrounding what exactly happened to his pure jumper that was last publically seen at the 2017 summer league.

This week, trainer Drew Hanlen, who has been working with the former No. 1 overall pick in an effort to rework his shot, joined the Talking Schmidt Podcast  and was the first person around Fultz to put a name to what has been speculated to have caused his broken his shot: "the yips."

"With Markelle, obviously, he had one of the most documented case of kind of the yips of basketball in recent years," Hanlen said, "where he completely forgot how to shoot and had multiple hitches in his shot."

There's no need to take a speculatory deep dive back into Fultz's weird rookie season. Regardless of whether it was the yips, a shoulder injury, a combination, changing the shot, or any other reason; it already happened. He lost that awesome jumper he had coming out of Washington, a shot that had a huge factor in the Sixers spending a valuable future asset in the Kings' 2019 first-rounder to trade up two spots and select him in last year's draft.

The more notable thing here is that Fultz is working to get it back and is using a popular trainer in Hanlen, who works with numerous NBA players, including Joel Embiid. 

And if you're starving for some Fultz jumpshot optimism, Hanlen delivered some:

For me, it was hey listen 'how can I get this kid that was No. 1 in last year's draft back rolling and get him to the point where he was before, or if not better?' We've been working hard everyday, working on rewiring his body and getting kind of a smooth stroke back in his shot. We're way ahead of pace where I thought we were gonna be. I thought it was gonna take me at least six weeks before we had kind of a serviceable jump shot. We already started to shoot with a jump in Week 2.

It's not perfect yet, but I think by the end of the summer it will be perfect, he'll be back rolling and he'll show people why he was the No. 1 pick. Even though I do give him trouble on a daily basis and tell him and remind him that I still believe Jayson Tatum was the best player in that draft.

Perfect by the end of the summer? Forget summer league, I think every Sixers fan will be fine signing up for just that. Hanlen, who has worked with Tatum dating back to before last year's draft, didn't reveal whether Fultz approached him about a complete rebuild or just adjustments, but he did describe the light-hearted conversation he had with the Sixers' guard before they started working together:

I knew (Markelle) because of Joel. Obviously, I spend a lot of time in Philadelphia working with Joel. Basically what I told him is, me being me, I said, 'Markelle listen, you're going to make me really famous and you're going to make me a lot of money when I fix your shot and can sell your program. And the good news is, I can't go down because it can't get worse.' So I said, 'Give me a chance, let me help you get back to who you are.'

He kind of laughed and chuckled and I said, 'Let's do this.' For two reasons: One I wanna get you back rolling. I wanna get you back kind of loving basketball and finding success. And two, I wanna arrogantly be able to tell everybody, yeah, that's me right there I fixed it. We took a kind of funny approach to get rolling, but we've been working hard every single day. We spend a couple hours in the gym. So far the program is going well and he's finding some success with the new shooting motion.

If Fultz shows up to training camp with a reworked, reliable shot, Hanlen would become a legend in Philly.

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