76ers

Sixers 2016-17 player evaluation: Jerryd Bayless

Sixers 2016-17 player evaluation: Jerryd Bayless

Jerryd Bayless

Position: Point guard

Status for 2017-18: Guaranteed -- $9 million

Bayless in 2016-17
The Sixers signed Bayless with the expectation he would complement Ben Simmons in the backcourt with his combo guard skills. The veteran, however, suffered a left wrist ligament injury during training camp. He did not make his season debut until Nov. 21, and that didn't last long.

Bayless played only three games before he was shut down with season-ending surgery. He averaged 11.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and 4.3 assists in those contests.

Signature game
Bayless scored 18 points with six rebounds and six assists in his second game of the season on Nov. 23 in a double-overtime loss to the Grizzlies. He scored nine of those points in OT.

Looking ahead to 2017-18
Bayless expects to resume contact work in a month. Next season, the Sixers could utilize him as a shooter alongside Simmons or as the point guard. Just as important, the Sixers will look for Bayless to become a veteran mentor to Simmons as he learns the ropes as an NBA point guard. Simmons already considers him to be a "big brother" after spending time together this season. 

On Bayless
"He's like a free-agent signing that's already happened and we're just waiting for him to get healthy and it looks like that's well on its way. A maniacal worker. He's in the gym every day. As soon as he had the chance to get back and shooting shots, he was there. First guy in the gym, every single day." 

- Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo

No sunny cliches from Sixers GM Elton Brand on eve of opener

No sunny cliches from Sixers GM Elton Brand on eve of opener

CAMDEN, N.J. — The day before a season begins, you expect plenty of optimism, excitement and sunny clichés. That’s not what general manager Elton Brand provided on Monday, ahead of the Sixers' season opener Tuesday night in Boston. 

“Our expectations are to grow the team,” Brand said. “Gearing towards the playoffs, we’re just a better team than we were last year. Honestly, I say we have a lot of work to do. We’re not where I want to be right now. I’m not sure what the players feel about that. I know coach wants to see more growth and improvement. We have a lot to work on.”

On the surface, Brand’s assessment would appear to be a stark contrast from the mindset of his head coach. From Day 1 of training camp, Brett Brown has said this team’s goal is to play in the NBA Finals.

But since Day 1 of camp, Brown has also acknowledged the improvements the Sixers still need to make and anticipated the issues his team will face, especially as Markelle Fultz is integrated into the starting lineup.

“I’m not saying we’re going to win 42 games, 56 games, I’m not saying any of that,” Brown said Monday. “I want to be better when it matters most. And that may take a little bit of time and we may experience some pain along the way.”

Brand is on the same page: Regular-season bumps are inevitable. After all, the Sixers likely won’t have either of their two non-rookie offseason acquisitions, Wilson Chandler and Mike Muscala, Tuesday against the Celtics. Chandler is out with a left hamstring strain suffered in the first preseason game and is still “a ways away” from returning. Muscala is doubtful with a right ankle sprain.

That should result in more minutes for players like Amir Johnson, Landry Shamet and T.J. McConnell as Brown adjusts to life without Marco Belinelli, Ersan Ilyasova and two of the main players he thought would replace them off the bench.

“I’m most curious about seeing how we gel," Brand said. "We lost Marco, we lost Ilyasova. That’s what I’m looking forward to seeing because the goal is to be ready for the playoffs.”

Brown is steadfast that an Eastern Conference title is the right goal for his team to have.

“I’ve said from the start, I want to play in the NBA Finals,” Brown said. "And somebody asked, ‘if you don’t, would that make it a failure?’ No. But how can that not be our goal this year? In my mind and in my head, I don’t feel comfortable not owning that as a goal.”

Brand, when asked if that goal was realistic, had a tempered answer.

“My goal is to get deeper in the playoffs. I’m not going to say it’s not realistic,” he said, “but that is a goal.”

It makes perfect sense for any general manager (expect, perhaps, Bob Myers in Golden State) to see the flaws in his team and have an eye toward solving those issues. And again, it’s not as if Brand’s expectations are a world away from those of his head coach, who acknowledged again Monday that the Fultz and Simmons pairing “is not a perfect world fit.”

But Brand’s admission that his team “is not where I want to be right now” just before the start of the season is unusual. It’s a telling sign of the Sixers’ rapid growth that Brand isn’t content with a team fresh off a 52-win season with two young, budding stars. He wants more, and he's realistic in admitting that the early-season version of the Sixers probably won’t look like a team ready to play in the NBA Finals. 

More on the Sixers

Betting public likes Sixers' Joel Embiid's 2018-19 NBA MVP odds

Betting public likes Sixers' Joel Embiid's 2018-19 NBA MVP odds

The betting public is apparently in on Joel Embiid as an MVP candidate.

While Embiid has just the eighth-best odds to take home the award, the betting public is throwing the fifth-most money (7.1 percent) down on Embiid taking home the trophy.

They like his odds.

Embiid is currently listed at +1500 meaning if you bet $100, you’d make $1,500 if he wins MVP.

The most popular bet by the public is Giannis Antetokounmpo at +500, then Kawhi Leonard at +950. LeBron James (+333) is the next most popular pick, followed by Anthony Davis (+450), then Embiid.

With James heading out West, Antetokounmpo, Leonard and Embiid will have an interesting opportunity to capitalize on a weaker Eastern Conference, perhaps bolstering their team’s win totals and increasing their chances.

We outlined the case for Embiid winning the award over the weekend (see story). He’d have to raise his scoring average and cut down on the turnovers, but he certainly has a chance.

Embiid will begin his quest on national television Tuesday night against the Celtics.

More on the Sixers