76ers

5 forwards the Sixers should target in free agency

5 forwards the Sixers should target in free agency

We’ve looked at free-agent options for the Sixers among veterans (see story) and guards (see story).

Now here’s a breakdown of forwards on the open market that could help the Sixers.

Kevin Durant
Haha. A team can dream, right?

Andre Iguodala
Durant’s teammate is a more realistic option as reports have already stated that the Sixers are interested in a reunion with the swingman (see story).

It makes sense for the Sixers. Iguodala spent the first eight seasons of his NBA career in Philadelphia and still possesses the same defensive ability, rebounding and passing that he made a staple of his game over that time.

On the offensive end, Iguodala has been able to show improvement even with more than a decade in the league. He averaged just 7.6 points last season, but the forward shot 52.8 percent from the field (highest mark of his career), 36.2 percent from three-point range (second-highest mark of his career) and 70.6 percent from the free throw line (highest mark since 2009-10).

At age 33, it remains to be seen how much Iguodala has left in the tank. And you definitely have to think he would prefer to remain with the juggernaut Golden State Warriors.

Still, it wouldn’t hurt the Sixers to make a phone call and gauge his interest in a return.

Danilo Gallinari
If it’s scoring the Sixers are going for, Gallinari could be their man.

The Italian combo forward has always been a consistent force on the offensive end. Gallinari has averaged double digits in scoring during eight of his nine seasons in the NBA.

Last season, he led the Nuggets with 18.2 points per game to go along with 5.2 rebounds and 2.1 assists. Gallinari also connected on 44.7 percent from the field and a career-high 38.9 percent from beyond the arc.

Defense and injuries have always been issues for “Gallo.” He was a key cog for a Denver Nuggets team that finished 29th in defensive rating a season ago and has played only 70 or more games twice in his career.

While those warts are glaring, Gallinari’s overall production outweighs them. The 28-year-old ranked 31st in the entire league in 2016-17 in real plus-minus, which measures net point differential per 100 offensive and defensive possessions.

In the end, a veteran player that can operate offensively on both the low block and perimeter is an attractive piece. Gallinari’s ability to play either forward spot would open up even more options for Brett Brown’s lineup. That’s the type of guy the Sixers should take a serious look at in free agency.

Serge Ibaka
How about a good mix on both ends of the floor? Two-way players do exist and Ibaka is among the better ones.

Ibaka has primarily been known for his defense throughout his career. He was named to the league’s all-defensive first team three times. Plus, the 6-10 forward has finished in the NBA’s top 10 in blocks per game for seven straight seasons (league leader in 2012 and 2013).

While that part of Ibaka’s game has been a constant, he has made tremendous strides on offense since coming from overseas. Ibaka entered the league as strictly a bruiser near the rim and has progressively added to his skill set. 

He averaged 14.8 points last season split between the Orlando Magic and Toronto Raptors. He shot 48.0 percent from the field and a career-high 39.1 percent from three.  

At 27 years old, there doesn’t appear to be much to dislike about Ibaka — except the potential price tag. Ibaka will absolutely be looking to cash in this offseason. The Sixers have money to spend, but that doesn't mean they should go overboard for the veteran.

Otto Porter Jr. and Bojan Bogdanovic
The Washington duo of Porter and Bogdanovic are the only restricted free agents on the list but could be worth the trouble of having to deal with the Wizards potentially matching an offer sheet.

Porter enjoyed a breakout season in 2016-17. He put up career highs in points (13.4), rebounds (6.4), steals (1.5), field goal percentage (51.6), three-point percentage (43.4) and free throw percentage (83.2).

At just 24 years old, Porter would be a strong fit to grow with the Sixers’ young core for the foreseeable future if they are able to pry him away from D.C. Highly unlikely, but worth a try.

Bogdanovic provides less efficiency, but a massive amount of experience from playing all over the globe. The 28-year-old Croatian recorded 13.7 points a night last season on 44.5 percent from the field and 36.7 percent from three with the Brooklyn Nets and Wizards. 

With the Wizards still looking at a possible trade for Indiana Pacers All-Star Paul George and an owner in Ted Leonsis that has maintained a stance of avoiding spending into the luxury tax, the Sixers might be able to snag either Porter or Bogdanovic.

Kevin Knox, Zhaire Smith to have 2nd workout for Sixers

Kevin Knox, Zhaire Smith to have 2nd workout for Sixers

The Sixers are taking another look at two prospects two days before the NBA draft, in which they hold pick No. 10.

Kentucky forward Kevin Knox will be back at the training complex again Tuesday for an individual workout. Last week, he participated in a group setting.

Texas Tech guard Zhaire Smith also will return for a second group workout.

Both stood out their first time in Camden, New Jersey.

“He walked into the gym, it’s not hard to see the intrigue with his size and mobility, his frame,” senior director of basketball operations Vince Rozman said of the 6-foot-9 Knox last week. “He’s 18, so there’s a lot to develop from.”

Knox, who averaged 15.6 points (34.1 percent from three), 5.4 rebounds and 1.4 assists as a freshman, was confident following his first performance for the Sixers.

“They’re really interested in me,” Knox said. “They love my game, they love the way I can shoot the ball. That’s something they really like to do is shoot a lot of threes. My versatility, being able to take guys off the dribble is something that would complement really well with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid.”

The 6-foot-5 Smith posted 11.3 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.8 assists his freshman season. He was focused on demonstrating shooting, decision-making and playmaking during his first workout.

“He’s got great length,” vice president of player personnel Marc Eversley said last week. “He’s a terrific, terrific athlete. He didn’t shoot the ball as well throughout the year, but he came in here today and shot it pretty well.”

The Sixers additionally hold picks No. 26, 38, 39, 56 and 60. Tuesday’s group workout also will include La Salle guard-forward B.J. Johnson, USC guard De’Anthony Melton, Fairfield guard Tyler Nelson, Kansas guard Malik Newman and Wichita State guard Landry Shamet.

More on Sixers, NBA draft

• Knox thinks he would fit with Sixers

• NBA draft profile: Kentucky's Knox

NBA draft profile: Texas Tech's Smith

NBA draft profile: UCLA PG Aaron Holiday

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NBA draft profile: UCLA PG Aaron Holiday

Aaron Holiday

Position: Guard

Height: 6-0

Weight: 187

School: UCLA

Sixers fans should recognize the name. Aaron Holiday is the brother of former Sixers first-round pick Jrue Holiday and Bulls wing Justin Holiday. Aaron is the youngest — and smallest — of the three. 

A three-year player at UCLA, Holiday developed into one of the most prodigious scorers and shooters in Bruins history. He was the first UCLA player to lead the Pac 12 in scoring (20.3 points per game) since some guy named Reggie Miller. For his efforts, he was named to the All-Pac 12 first team.

For his college career, Holiday averaged 14.3 points and 4.7 assists per contest in 101 games (65 starts). He also hit 180 treys, shooting 42 percent from three.

Strengths
Holiday’s most obvious and translatable NBA attribute is his jump shot. He shot over 40 percent in all three of his seasons at UCLA and is capable off the dribble, off screens and in catch-and-shoot opportunities. He also has NBA range and is not afraid to pull up from any spot on the floor.

For his size, he’s a good, creative finisher and features a pretty nice floater. He understands how to attack defenses, especially in the pick and roll. He’s excellent at changing his pace and lulling defenders to sleep. He’s a good and willing passer. Defensively he has excellent instincts. He’s aggressive and does well at getting his hands in passing lanes.

Weaknesses
Size is a huge issue for Holiday. The other big issue is, he’s just an OK athlete that lacks quickness and explosion while driving to the basket. Defense is always going to be an issue as he’ll struggle to guard some of the bigger and more explosive point guards in the league. He also struggled with turnovers.

NBA comparison
Aaron Brooks, most recently of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Both players make up for their size with excellent perimeter shooting. Brooks was more explosive coming out of Oregon, but also has a good change of pace to confuse opponents. Holiday has better feel and vision. Brooks has struggled defensively at the NBA level and Holiday will likely encounter the same issues.

How he'd fit with Sixers
It’s tough to project Holiday to the Sixers. His shooting would play well here and playing with a 6-foot-10 point guard would certainly help his cause, but where would he fit? He won’t be a starter right away and the Sixers already feature T.J. McConnell off the bench. McConnell provides energy and top-notch defense that Holiday cannot.

Draft projection
The modern NBA is all about the three so teams will be interested in Holiday as a backup point guard and shooter off the bench. He could go anywhere from the late teens to the mid-20s.

More on the Sixers and the NBA draft