76ers

Sixers to host St. Joe's Prep grad Steve Vasturia, Oregon duo and 3 others for workout

Sixers to host St. Joe's Prep grad Steve Vasturia, Oregon duo and 3 others for workout

The Sixers will host another pre-draft workout Wednesday at the team's practice facility in Camden, New Jersey.

Attending the workout are Oregon forward Jordan Bell and guard Tyler Dorsey, Indiana center Thomas Bryant, French guard Elie Okobo, Georgetown guard L.J. Peak and Notre Dame guard Steve Vasturia. 

These players project as second-round picks, of which the Sixers own four: 36th, 39th, 46th and 50th.

Jordan Bell, junior, F, 6-9/227
Casual fans might remember Bell from the Final Four game against North Carolina in which he missed some crucial rebounds in the final seconds and Oregon never got a chance for a final shot. But don't let that image taint your idea of what he brings to the court. Bell took his game to another level as an inside presence after the Ducks lost primary big Chris Boucher in the Pac-12 Tournament and was named the Midwest Region's Most Outstanding Player. He won Defensive Player of the Year honors in the Pac-12 this past season, and projects as a mobile five in the NBA.

2016-17 averages: 11.0 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.8 assists

Thomas Bryant, sophomore, C, 6-10/241
Bryant was a highly touted recruit out of high school and was expected to attend Syracuse, only to make the late call to play for Tom Crean at Indiana. He struggled defensively at first, but came into his own as a freshman and eventually shot 70.3 percent on two-point attempts — he thrives around the rim. Many were surprised he returned to school for second year, but his athletic ability and 7-6 wingspan still make him an attractive target for a late pick.

2016-17 averages: 12.6 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.5 assists

Tyler Dorsey, sophomore, G, 6-4/180 
Dorsey's two years at Oregon have been some of the best in the program's recent history, as the Ducks secured a No. 1 seed in the 2016 NCAA Tournament and a Final Four appearance this past season. His stats from March show why he'll be a good find for a team in the draft; in each of his final eight games for Oregon, Dorsey scored at least 20 points. He shot 42 percent from deep on the season, and that alone should catch the Sixers' eye. 

2016-17 averages: 14.7 points, 3.4 rebounds, 1.8 assists

Elie Okobo, 19 years old (France), G, 6-2/180
Okobo is undersized and his numbers last season in France aren't overly impressive. He shot 32 percent from three-point range, but he's considered more of a scorer than a distributor. Still, with four second-round picks, the Sixers should keep all options open, and bringing in Okobo appears to show they're doing just that.

2016-17 averages: 8.2 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists 

L.J. Peak, junior, G, 6-5/215 
Some were surprised to see Peak stay in the draft and not return to Georgetown, but the fact that John Thompson III is no longer at the helm of the Hoyas could have factored into that decision. In his first year as a starter, Peak was the second-leading scorer on a pretty bad Georgetown team, doing a little bit of everything. By no means was he a sniper from deep, but he plays well off the ball and can finish inside. He did not receive an invite to the NBA draft combine.

2016-17 averages: 16.3 points, 3.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists 

Steve Vasturia, senior, G, 6-5/211
The Medford, New Jersey native and St. Joe's Prep graduate was a fan favorite in his time at Notre Dame. His athleticism is not a selling point, and he was never really the go-to guy for the Fighting Irish, but he contributed heavily to a team that's been a March Madness mainstay in recent years. He's primarily a spot-up shooter but can slash the lane well when he wants to. At 35 percent from three his senior season, Vasturia will need to improve his consistencey to stick around in the NBA. Still, he has the tools that if he performs, he might be able to find a spot at the end of someone's bench.

2016-17 averages: 13.1 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.3 assists

What should Sixers' rotation be for playoffs?

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USA Today/AP Images

What should Sixers' rotation be for playoffs?

After Sunday night's All-Star Game, we still have three days to kill before the Sixers are back in action. 

Today, NBC Sports Philadelphia's Paul Hudrick and Noah Levick discuss who should be part of the Sixers' playoff rotation. 

Tuesday, they'll look at how the Sixers can overcome the Celtics, and Wednesday they'll review their expectations for the rest of the season.

Hudrick

Brett Brown has said that his rotation will be at 10 players for now and will go down to nine when the playoffs come. You could make the argument that number should perhaps be eight given how elite the starting five is.

Looking at the five bench guys now, Brown has mentioned that veteran Mike Scott is a lock as the backup four. You figure T.J. McConnell will also be in as the backup point guard. Brown also seems determined to see how much he can use Boban Marjanovic. The other two guys off the bench should be James Ennis and Jonathon Simmons, without a doubt.

Jonah Bolden has been the odd man out, but that may not continue into the postseason. He lost his job as Joel Embiid’s backup really by no fault of his own. He’d been doing a nice job as the backup five and makes a ton of sense as a rim protector that is capable of switching onto guards and can hit the occasional open three.

As we saw in the game against the Celtics, Marjanovic is a liability against bigs like Al Horford and Daniel Theis with the ability to hit shots from the perimeter. Marjanovic was exposed big time in the pick-and-roll, already a sore spot for the Sixers.

With McConnell, he seems more like a matchup-type player as he can be exposed by bigger guards. That’s where the Jimmy Butler point guard experiment comes into play. If I were Brown, my playoff bench would be Scott at the four, Bolden at the five and then either Ennis or Simmons as a backup wing while Butler runs the point. The nice thing about having useful, versatile pieces is you can match up against other teams and also swap players that maybe don't have it on a given night.

If the starters all play around 40 minutes, that leaves about 40 minutes — 13 apiece — for three players. That should be manageable given the strength of the starting unit.

Levick

The playoff rotation is going to have to be largely matchup-dependent. That’s a good thing.

The Sixers now have the personnel to adapt off the bench to most situations. For instance, if you’re playing the Bucks and have to deal with the threat of Brook Lopez as a three-point shooter, you’d likely prefer Jonah Bolden’s quickness and ability to defend away from the rim over Boban Marjanovic. If you’re playing the Hornets, Jonathon Simmons could get more minutes as a physical defensive option against Kemba Walker. T.J. McConnell might play a more prominent role against the Celtics, a team he thrived against last postseason.

Furkan Korkmaz should not be part of the equation; Simmons, Ennis, McConnell and Mike Scott all offer more reliable value. Korkmaz is dependent on hitting three-point shots, and he hasn’t done that consistently. And unlike Korkmaz, Simmons, Ennis, McConnell and Scott all have playoff experience.

We also shouldn’t forget about Zhaire Smith. According to general manager Elton Brand, the expectation is still that he’ll play this season. If Smith gets back on the court and his stint with the Blue Coats goes well, he deserves a shot to show what he can do this year at the NBA level. And if Brett Brown likes what he sees, Smith’s perimeter defense and athleticism could be an intriguing playoff option. 

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All-Star night is more than Ben Simmons could have hoped for

All-Star night is more than Ben Simmons could have hoped for

There aren't a ton of things that faze Ben Simmons. At least, that’s how it usually seems.

Until you’re being announced as an NBA All-Star for the first time in your career and waiting to sub in on Team LeBron.

“Here we go, don’t mess up,” Simmons thought to himself as he took the court.

Next to him was Dwyane Wade. Across from him was Dirk Nowitzki.

“I’m playing with legends, D-Wade … [Nowitzki] hit a three on me” Simmons said with a smile, before going on to talk about the influence that Nowitzki had on him as an international basketball player.

For playing just 16 minutes, Simmons sure had an impact, finishing with 10 points on 5 for 5 shooting, seven assists, six rebounds and zero turnovers.

He also had a little something in him that not everyone else had. While the majority of players said they started to feel the game get competitive midway through the fourth quarter, Simmons had a different answer.

“That first second I stepped on the court, just stepping in with the mentality of trying to get a win," he said.

Simmons, alongside Team LeBron got that win Sunday night, but it was clear from his demeanor there was something bigger he took away.

“I had a great time," he said. "Nothing was what I expected, but it was just fun to be out there, something new, something I hadn’t done before.”

Simmons walked out of the arena with a little extra pep in his step, which got me thinking about the day he was announced as an All-Star.

“I grew up thinking about championships, honestly," he said then. "I didn’t really think about All-Star appearances.”

But now, I’d think Simmons would admit that tonight was a little bit more special than even he imagined.  

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