76ers

Should Sixers' Jonah Bolden have been a lottery pick?

Should Sixers' Jonah Bolden have been a lottery pick?

If you were impressed with the play of Jonah Bolden during summer league, you're not the only one.

The 21-year-old Australian forward also caught the eye of the Ringer's Jonathan Tjarks. The site did an "A Way-Too-Early 2017 NBA Redraft" based on the NBA summer league. A little silly, but both Tjarks and fellow writer Kevin O'Connor acknowledged the silliness of it all. (And don't worry, they still had the Sixers snagging Markelle Fultz No. 1 overall.)

Tjarks chose Bolden, a second-round pick by the Sixers (36th overall), at No. 13 overall.

"Bigs who can switch screens, shoot threes, block shots, and make plays with the ball should not have fallen to the second round," Tjarks, who thought highly of Bolden before the draft, writes. "Bolden gave Celtics 7-footer Ante Zizic trouble out in Vegas, and if Bolden can play the 5, he opens up a lot of interesting lineup possibilities."

Bolden averaged 8.7 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.8 steals and 1.3 blocks in eight games (three starts) in the Utah and Las Vegas summer leagues combined. He shot 31 percent from three (11 of 35), which isn't eye-popping but for a 6-foot-10 player capable of playing in the post, it shows promise. He was also extremely active defensively, switching onto guard and getting deflections and blocks as Tjarks mentioned.

Bolden finished high school in the U.S. and went to UCLA. After not playing his first year for academic reasons, Bolden was unhappy with his role when he finally got to play. He decided to jump ship and play in Serbia instead of finishing out his season with the Bruins. 

In his one season with Beogard, Bolden averaged 12.9 points and 7.2 rebounds a game while shooting 42 percent from three on his way to receiving the Adriatic League's Top Prospect Award. That award has gone to the likes of Denver Nuggets budding star Nikola Jokic and, of course, the Sixers' Dario Saric.

The Sixers are in an interesting spot with Bolden. Since he was a second-round pick, he's eligible to be on a two-way contract. That would allow the team to stash Bolden on their G-League affiliate the Delaware 87ers while still being available for the Sixers. 

The lure of possibly playing in the NBA this season rather than return to Serbia where he is under contract with Beogard would likely be enough for Bolden to go with a two-way deal. The Sixers would also have to buy out the rest of his deal overseas.

"I could start today," Bolden said the day after the draft of when he'd like to play for the Sixers. "But there's uncertainty with that. The organization drafted me with a plan and I'm going to stick to the plan. I'm subject to a European contract at the moment but whatever the organization wants and they say is what'll happen." 

Did Bolden do enough in summer league play to alter the Sixers' plans? Training camp will go a long way in answering that question.

Should Ben Simmons shoot right-handed? He doesn't seem to think so

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Should Ben Simmons shoot right-handed? He doesn't seem to think so

For those sharing the conspiracy theory that Ben Simmons should be shooting with his right hand, prepare to be disappointed.

The Rookie of the Year appeared to shoot down the notion on Twitter, commenting on a story suggesting the Sixers’ point guard is shooting with the wrong hand.

This story stemmed from a piece by The New York Times basketball writer Marc Stein, but questions of the 22-year-old’s handedness were first posted by Kevin O’Connor — formerly of SB Nation, now with The Ringer. O’Connor has been charting Simmons’ shots since LSU. In a feature for SB Nation back in 2016, O’Connor noted that Simmons used his right hand on 81.5 percent of his shots. That’s pretty much reverse for any lefty currently in the NBA.

Since O’Connor first presented this theory, it’s picked up some steam.

Below is a video of Simmons taking free throws right-handed during warm-ups last season.

You have to admit, it looks pretty smooth. It’s a tough angle, but his elbow looks more tucked in than when he shoots with his left. His wrist action and follow through look smoother as well. 

Let’s also not forget when Simmons was given the chance to throw the first pitch at a Phillies game earlier this season.

That’s a pretty nice right-handed strike.

His free throw shooting was an issue last season. As dominant as Simmons was at times, he shot just 56 percent from the line. In a game against the Wizards on Nov. 11, the Sixers held a big lead. Sensing the game was slipping away, Washington head coach Scott Brooks went to the hack-a-Ben strategy. Simmons took 29 free throws, hitting just 15. It allowed the Wizards to make the game a little too close for comfort.

With all that said, there have been instances where Simmons has showed promise with his left-handed shot. In the playoffs, Simmons shot 70 percent from the line.

He’s also flashed the ability to shoot in practice …

… and in games …

Would Simmons be better if he shot with his right hand? If Simmons’ reaction to that notion is any indication, we may never know.

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Sixers remain quiet as contenders make their case for Eastern Conference supremacy

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Sixers remain quiet as contenders make their case for Eastern Conference supremacy

These are truly the dog days of summer when it comes to the NBA.

Players are likely either putting in work with daily workouts or enjoying some vacation time before things get cranked back up in the fall.

However, those aren’t the only activities that are presented with that extra free time. There is also more opportunity for guys to do some boasting about what is to come. After all, they’re probably feeling good about the progress made during the offseason and the recent 2018-19 schedule release has put a jolt in their system.

Unless you’re a Sixer. They’ve remained relatively silent as members of one team after another have stated their case for the Eastern Conference crown now that LeBron James took his talents to Hollywood.

Boston swingman Jaylen Brown openly laid claim to the East during an appearance last week on Portland guard C.J. McCollum’s Pull Up podcast.

“Oh, we're getting to the Finals. No question about it,” Brown said.

And Brown made it clear that he didn’t feel that way about his Celtics just because James signed with the Los Angeles Lakers. In fact, he said the C’s were going win next season regardless of whether James stayed in the Eastern Conference or not.

“I hate how everybody is like, ‘Oh, LeBron's gone in the East,’” Brown said. “I know he did have a strong hold on the East for the last seven years, but he barely got us out of there this year. And our mindset was like, ‘Man, he’s not beating us again.’”

That’s pretty bold, but the Celtics have a right to feel good about themselves. They were on the cusp of reaching the NBA Finals a year ago and are getting All-Star reinforcements back in Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward.

New Milwaukee Bucks center Brook Lopez was a bit more diplomatic with his expectations for next season. Still, he presented the case for his squad to become the new big dogs in the East.

“We definitely think the East is wide open,” Lopez said to Hoopshype a week ago. “It’s going to be such a fun, exciting time in the East and it’s going to be super competitive. There are a lot of teams that can do [big] things, from Toronto to Boston to Philly — you just go down the list and it’s clear that the East is as exciting as it’s been in a long time. I think we’re very confident that we can, no question, win the East.”

Even Washington Wizards guard John Wall explained why his group could be the one to rise to the top of the conference.

“I feel like we’re all equal,” Wall told Yahoo! Sports. “None of them won a championship. This is no knock on no other team. Don’t get me wrong. Boston is a hell of a team. Philly has great young talent with those guys (Joel) Embiid, (Ben) Simmons. And Toronto, losing DeMar (DeRozan), they still get Kawhi (Leonard). Y’all might have been to the Eastern Conference finals, where we haven’t been to, but none of y’all were going to the Finals. It was one guy going to the Finals. Ain’t nobody separated from nothing. I know one guy that separated himself from the Eastern Conference every year and that was LeBron James and the Cavs. Other than that … if you lose in the second round or the conference finals, you still didn’t get to your ultimate goal.”

Throughout all of the chest-puffing discussions, the Sixers haven’t made a peep. Not even the 7-foot-2 All-Star known for trash-talking anyone in sight. Embiid barely gave a response to No. 1 overall pick DeAndre Ayton when the rookie recently decided to draw himself dunking on the Sixers’ center.

It’s a stark departure from Embiid’s normal back-and-forth nature, but it’s safe to assume that the big man and his team will wait until they step on the court to let their game do the talking.

With a healthy offseason under his belt for the first time as a professional, you can bet that Embiid — and in turn the Sixers — will have plenty to say at that time.

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