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Amid busy summer, Justin Anderson eager for 1st full season with Sixers

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Amid busy summer, Justin Anderson eager for 1st full season with Sixers

Justin Anderson has been busy this summer. Training, getting to know his new teammates, traveling to China with the Yao Ming Foundation, finally getting settled into an apartment in Philadelphia instead of a hotel. 

His time also included appearing at the Sixers' Camden Youth Basketball Clinic, twice in three days this week. Jahlil Okafor also attended on the second day. 

“For me to even be invited is dear to me,” Anderson said. 

The camp, presented by Virtua, hosted over 900 children from the Camden, New Jersey area. It included basketball drills, dance lessons and fitness tests. Anderson addressed the campers and stressed the importance of health, respecting parents and school. He handed out boxes of Nike sneakers as well.

Anderson held a demonstration wherein campers stood on a basketball. Each second they could balance on the ball represented one season in the NBA. Then, he asked them to stand on a stack of textbooks. Each second represented a year of opportunities afforded to them because of their education. The seconds on the books far outlasted the seconds on the basketball. 

“It’s such a vital moment for them education-wise,” Anderson said. “I just want to put myself in a position to be a role model, be a mentor, and open up and allow these kids to see it’s cool to be in school, it’s cool to have fun with it, and also be able to be a good athlete as well.”

Anderson showed a natural ability to connect with the campers and lead a crowd. He plans to bring those aspects to the Sixers this season, too. 

“We want to make as strong of a playoff push as we can, and we really do confidently believe that we can make that happen,” he said. 

Anderson was traded in mid-February from the Mavericks in the Nerlens Noel deal and basically lived out of a suitcase for the remainder of the season. He considers not being settled for those months “the toughest moment” of his NBA career. Anderson can relate to those who are new to the team and aims to help them get acclimated. 

“[I want to] show these guys that even though I’m only 23 years old, I’m a leader in my own type of way,” he said. 

He looks to bring an even-keeled approach to the season. The Sixers are positioned to make a noticeable improvement from last season’s 28-54 record. Anderson understands this doesn’t always happen overnight. 

“Expectations are for us to go through growing pains but us to have fun going through them,” he said. “Us understanding that we’re going to create an identity of being very tough, hard-nosed under Coach (Brett) Brown. Obviously, we have a lot of young talent trying to figure it out, along with myself. But the best thing is being able to grow together.”

On the court, Anderson wants to contribute versatility on both ends. He could earn the backup small forward role behind Robert Covington, and also has the ability to play multiple positions. Last season, Anderson averaged 8.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 24 games for the Sixers. He started the final eight games in place of Covington (knee). 

“I think my role is going to be one that allows to play different positions, guard multiple positions, being able to shoot the ball from deep, close, whatever the case may be,” Anderson said. “My athleticism being off the charts and being that energy guy who’s going to be one that brings that spark to the team. I’m just excited.”

Anderson is ready to get the season underway. He’s simply looking forward to participating in a full practice at the Sixers' training complex, something he didn’t have the opportunity to do because of the team's crammed game schedule after the All-Star break. 

“I wish training camp was tomorrow,” Anderson said. 

Sixers select Villanova's Mikal Bridges with No. 10 pick in 2018 NBA draft

Sixers select Villanova's Mikal Bridges with No. 10 pick in 2018 NBA draft

The Sixers didn’t have to go far with the No. 10 pick in the NBA draft as they selected Villanova standout Mikal Bridges.

Bridges starred at ‘Nova, where he won two national championships under head coach Jay Wright. The 6-7, 210-pound wing took his game to a new level last season when he averaged 17.7 points on 51.4 percent field goal shooting and 43.5 percent three-point shooting. The Malvern native added 5.3 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.1 blocks in 32.1 minutes a game for the Wildcats.

“When I was younger, my mom, my dad, my grandparents would always take me to games,” Bridges, whose mother works in the organization, said after his pre-draft workout with the team. “It's really cool seeing what they've been doing and how well-coached they are and how hard they play, how talented they are. It would just be the perfect fit.” 

The Sixers had their choice of wing players at No. 10 with Michael Porter Jr. and Miles Bridges also on the board, the team went with the familiar face in the end.

(More coming ...)

2018 NBA draft rumors tracker: Could the Sixers move down?

2018 NBA draft rumors tracker: Could the Sixers move down?

We’ve spent a lot of time talking over the last few weeks about the possibility the Sixers trade up in the draft, possibly into the top 5. 

But what if they trade down? 

That scenario was brought up this afternoon by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who makes it seem like that No. 10 pick could be in demand. 

If the Sixers trade out of the top 10, it would be pretty surprising based on the chatter leading up to the draft. And it probably wouldn't be a very popular move in the eyes of most fans. But perhaps they're anticipating a scenario where the player they'd take at 10 would be available later. In that case, it would obviously make some sense to trade back and add more value. 

Earlier in the day, a report from The Athletic surfaced that said the Sixers had internal discussions about possibly involving Markelle Fultz in a package to move up and get Michael Porter Jr. in the top five (see story)

The draft begins at 7 p.m. tonight from Brooklyn and Draft Central: Sixers begins at 8:30 on NBC Sports Philadelphia. 

Here’s everything else you need to know about tonight’s draft. 

Top 6
Here's how the top six picks should shake out, according to Woj.

Spurs are listening
A slight update on the Kawhi Leonard drama in San Antonio. 

Perhaps the most interesting part of that is that the Lakers and Spurs haven’t talked about Kawhi yet. That’s a little surprising because many think the Lakers might be the frontrunners to land the disgruntled superstar. 

The Sixers might still have a chance to trade for him. It’s fair to wonder if they’re on that board. 

Buyout for Dwight Howard 
It wasn't all that long ago when Howard was considered one of the top big men in the league and a prized acquisition. Those days are gone. 

Howard will be a free agent soon enough.  

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