76ers

Sixers to work out 6 draft prospects Wednesday

Sixers to work out 6 draft prospects Wednesday

A day after hosting a pre-draft workout that included potential top-three pick Jaylen Brown from the University of California (see story), the Sixers will host another group session Wednesday at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. The workout will feature a set of six players, including former Michigan State guard Bryn forbes.

Bryn Forbes (6-3/190, Michigan State)
Forbes is a 23-year-old guard who played two seasons at Big Ten powerhouse Michigan State after transferring from Cleveland State following his sophomore season. Forbes made a name for himself at Michigan State by displaying his innate ability to shoot the three. In his senior season, Forbes led the Big Ten with 112 made three-pointers while shooting 48 percent from beyond the arc. Despite his pure shooting ability, Forbes' major weaknesses include his one-dimensional offensive game as well as his smaller frame. 

Grandy Glaze (6-6/235, Grand Canyon)
A native of Canada, Glaze transferred from Saint Louis to Grand Canyon for his senior season. As a forward at Grand Canyon, Glaze averaged 14 points and just under nine rebounds per game. Coming in as a relative unknown, Glaze must show scouts something special in order to prove he's ready for the NBA. 

Stefan Jankovic (6-11/235, Hawaii)
After spending two years in the SEC at Missouri, Jankovic transferred to Hawaii, where he made an immediate impact thanks to his size and shooting ability. In his final season with the Rainbow Warriors, Jankovic averaged 15.6 points per game while shooting an impressive 54 percent from the field, including 39 percent from beyond the arc. Jankovic won Big West Player of the Year honors while leading his team to an NCAA Tournament berth. 

Retin Obasohan (6-1/210, Alabama)
Another under the radar prospect is Belgian native Retin Obasohan. At Alabama, Obasohan proved to be a multi-dimensional player, showing off his natural scoring ability as well as his tenacious defense on the other side of the ball. Obahosan averaged 17.6 points per game in his senior season while shooting 47 percent from the field. He finished his career ranked eighth in Alabama history with 154 steals and was named to the SEC All-Defensive team following the 2015-16 season. 

David Walker (6-6/200, Northeastern)
Walker is another pure scorer in this year's draft. Projecting as a point guard or shooting guard, Walker averaged 17.9 points per game while shooting 45 percent from the field, including a remarkable 41 percent from three. He also chipped in four assists per game for the Huskies. With good size and natural scoring ability, look for Walker to land a summer league invite from someone if he goes undrafted. 

Stephen Zimmerman (7-0/240, UNLV)
A 7-foot freshman, Zimmerman averaged 10.5 points and 8.7 rebounds in his lone season for the Rebels. Despite playing just one season in college, Zimmerman has maintained potential first-round status on most NBA mock draft boards in recent months. Zimmerman is a highly skilled big man with the ability to hit a mid-range jump shot. This should set him apart from other centers in the draft as not all have the ability to knock down a 15-footer. With traditional centers becoming more rare with each passing year, Zimmerman must continue to work on his outside shot if he wants to make it in today's NBA. 

Nothing wrong with fans encouraging Markelle Fultz

Nothing wrong with fans encouraging Markelle Fultz

When Markelle Fultz rose up to take a 13-foot jumper with 9:18 left in the second quarter, the ball seemed to hang on the rim forever.

When it finally tickled the twine, the crowd at Wells Fargo Center erupted. 

For context, this place was loud when Meek Mill, fresh out of prison, came out to ring the bell before a Sixers’ playoff game. The applause for Fultz’s first NBA three in the fourth quarter Thursday actually rivaled that.

Fultz led the team with 15 shots but made just five. Does that type of performance deserve that kind of reaction from the fans? Absolutely.

The irony in all of this is that Philly fans are constantly chided for being too hard on coaches and players. Whether it’s #FireBrett or the super lazy “Robert Covington hasn’t hit a shot since he got his extension” narrative, the fans here can be brutal.

But they got it right here. After I sent out a tweet about the reaction to Fultz’s 13-foot hesi-pull-up jimbo, I got a response that the fan reaction “came off desperate.” Hell yeah, it’s desperate.

In the NBA you need stars — generally at least three. With Joel Embiid emerging into an MVP candidate and Ben Simmons likely to get his first All-Star nod, fans are desperate for Fultz to complete the triumvirate. We all know the background up until this point. We know what the Sixers gave up to get him at No. 1, we know Jayson Tatum looks like a star and that Fultz’s confidence needs a boost.

We all focus on the jumper and believe me, I get it. If Fultz is going to play big minutes with Embiid and Simmons, he needs defenses to respect him from distance. He doesn’t need to become JJ Redick, but if he can just shoot league average (around 35 percent) that should be enough. 

He has so many other tricks in his bag. With a team that’s turned the ball over at an alarming rate during Brett Brown’s tenure, there’s no doubt value in the way Fultz takes care of the basketball. Fultz had five assists to just one turnover last night. Per Brian Seltzer of Sixers.com, in the 19 games since Fultz returned to the lineup last March, he’s posted 58 assists to just 16 turnovers. That’s good for a 3.625 ratio. That figure would be among the league leaders if it held for an entire season.

And these aren’t your garden variety assists either. Check out this beauty.

From the post, he puts a pass through the legs of Wendell Carter Jr. for an Amir Johnson layup.

Joel Embiid echoed that sentiment to reporters after the game.

Everybody always gets excited when he shoots a three.  He’s going to make those, he’s worked on his shot the whole summer so that’s nothing to worry about. I think the way he can help us is just being a playmaker. When I’m on the floor with him I really feel comfortable. He really knows how to find guys and understands when someone needs the ball, that’s where he’s going to help us a lot.

As much of what Fultz went through he attributes to his shoulder injury, there’s no doubt he also needed to get his swagger back. He’s still got a long ways to go, but feeling confident enough to jack 15 shots — and getting cheered for it — is a pretty good start.

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Markelle Fultz's jumper overshadows dominant nights from Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid

Markelle Fultz's jumper overshadows dominant nights from Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid

BOX SCORE

Ben Simmons had a triple-double. Joel Embiid scored 30 points. But Markelle Fultz took the most shots — including his first made regular-season three-pointer — and that’s what made his head coach the happiest.

“He ended up taking the most shots out of anybody on our team,” Brett Brown said Thursday night after the Sixers’ 127-108 home-opening win (see observations), “which, in itself, is to me a statement. … But I say that as a complete positive. I felt when he was shooting the ball, they kept going under middle pick-and-rolls. He shot it to mean it, he didn’t look afraid of anything.

“He missed the shots, but they looked good, and I think in general, we played him quite a bit of minutes, he took the most shots out of anybody on the team, I thought his defense was very good. It’s a big night for that young man.”

If you didn’t watch the game, you might think Brown was talking about a player who scored 20 points and knocked down a few clutch shots. Fultz shot 5 for 15 with 12 points.

Of course it’s not just as simple as the numbers with Fultz. As Brown said, the fact that Fultz was at least willing to take the jumpers the Bulls were giving him is important. He’s not the rookie whose rare attempted jumpers were broken, clunky ordeals that never had a real chance of going in.

On a human level, it’s easy to root for Fultz, to urge him to shoot and go crazy when he knocks one down from long range.

“Anytime you work really, really hard for something, it just makes the reward that much better,” Fultz said. “When you finally get the results you’ve been working hard for, it’s just that much better. So for me, it’s just more fire to work even harder and keep on improving.”

On a basketball level, the questions about Fultz and his jumper didn’t disappear the instant he hit that three-pointer. He made 3 of 11 jumpers (one a half-court heave at the end of the third period) against a bad defensive team who dared him to shoot, again and again. Seven of his 12 points came in the fourth quarter, after the Sixers had already sealed a win. This is nothing close to the player the Sixers thought they took with the No. 1 pick.

It will take a lot more than one made three-pointer for defenses to stop sagging off Fultz. But the Sixers believe that, over time, he’ll knock down enough jumpers that giving him space is no longer the obvious scouting report. 

“I want him to be confident,” Brown said. “I want him finding some level of swagger. I’ll try to get him the ball and put him in middle pick-and-rolls and try to find a way to help him. Tonight I thought he helped himself, he took what the game gave him. Given the incredible sort of groundswell after one game, good for him.”

Embiid, the man whose 30 points and 12 rebounds were rendered a footnote, has faith in Fultz’s growth.

“It’s like what I’ve always said, he’s going to be really good,” Embiid said. “I know it. Everybody always gets excited when he shoots a three. He’s going to make those, he’s worked on his shot the whole summer, so that’s nothing to worry about. I think the way he can help us is just being a playmaker. When I’m on the floor with him I really feel comfortable. He really knows how to find guys and understands when someone needs the ball, that’s where he’s going to help us a lot.”

At some point, maybe the fans at the Wells Fargo Center won’t go wild every time Fultz takes a three. That day doesn't seem like it will come anytime soon.

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