Sixers Give and Go

Which Sixer has the most to lose in 2019-20 season?

Which Sixer has the most to lose in 2019-20 season?

With training camp getting closer, there are plenty of topics to discuss involving the 2019-20 Sixers. Running the Give and Go are NBC Sports Philadelphia's Paul Hudrick and Noah Levick.

In this edition, we ask: Which Sixer has the most to lose this season? 

Hudrick 

Before the Sixers missed out on signing veteran sharpshooter Kyle Korver, there were rumors that 2016 first-round pick Furkan Korkmaz was headed back to Turkey. It would’ve made sense. The Sixers didn’t pick up his option for 2019-20 and he reportedly complained about his playing time last season.

Then Korver chose the Milwaukee Bucks over his former team and Elton Brand brought back the 22-year-old Turkish guard on a one-year deal. The fact that this could be Korkmaz’s last shot to stick in the NBA means he has the most to lose of any Sixer this season.

Korkmaz was touted as an excellent shooter during the pre-draft process. That skill has yet to translate to the NBA as Korkmaz has shot just 32.3 percent on 161 career three-point attempts. He’s shown offensive skill and instincts at times, but his shot selection is questionable. He’s a decent athlete, but has been a below-average defender.

He’ll be in a serious fight to become a part of the rotation this season. James Ennis will likely be the first wing off the bench, but there should be minutes for another perimeter player available. Korkmaz will have to battle 2019 first-round pick Matisse Thybulle and 2018 first-rounder Zhaire Smith. If Korkmaz's shot doesn’t fall, Thybulle and Smith both bring way more on the defensive end.

And that could send Korkmaz back overseas for 2020-21.

Levick 

There’s a lot at stake for Jonah Bolden this season.

He had an eventful rookie year, dealing with injury, stints in the G League and irregular playing time with the Sixers. 

Bolden had some positive moments. The Australian big man rebounded from making just 2 of his first 17 NBA threes to hit 35.4 percent from long range, and he flashed ability as a lengthy, athletic defender. There were also a variety of issues for Bolden, including classic rookie errors like unforced turnovers and excessive fouls, and his lack of size at center.

Now, there’s not an obvious spot for Bolden in the Sixers’ rotation. Kyle O’Quinn and Al Horford will presumably be ahead of him as backups to Joel Embiid, and Mike Scott seems to be the team’s backup power forward. Perhaps Bolden’s aptitude with perimeter defense will appeal to Brett Brown in specific matchups, but you have to look hard to find a regular place for him in the rotation.

Another important factor with Bolden is his contract situation — he has nothing guaranteed beyond this season. He’d gain a lot by earning playing time as a young player on a championship contender. If he’s unimpressive in his second year or simply doesn’t get much opportunity, though, he might end up moving elsewhere. 

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Which Sixer has the most to gain in 2019-20 season?

Which Sixer has the most to gain in 2019-20 season?

With training camp getting closer, there are plenty of topics to discuss involving the 2019-20 Sixers. Running the Give and Go are NBC Sports Philadelphia's Paul Hudrick and Noah Levick.

In this edition, we ask: Which Sixer has the most to gain this season?

Hudrick

There are a few strong candidates — including the guy Noah has below — but to me, Josh Richardson has the most to gain.

Richardson is an ascending player that just turned 26 on Sunday. He was a key cog in Erik Spoelstra’s rotation because of his defensive abilities. He’s long and versatile, a perfect combination for the Sixers’ starting unit. His defense should shine alongside the Sixers’ elite defensive pieces. He’ll be tasked with guarding ones, but it’s a challenge he should be able to handle and excel with.

During last season in Miami, Richardson took on a much bigger offensive role. While at times he shined, it was clear that he’s not meant to be a team’s No. 1 option. He won’t have to be that for the Sixers. The space he should get with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons should help immensely. Richardson also did well in dribble handoffs, something that was a staple of the Sixers’ offense with Embiid and JJ Redick. Brett Brown can explore the Richardson-Embiid two-man game with Redick’s departure to New Orleans.

One of Richardson’s most attractive qualities is his contract. The Heat have some pretty horrendous deals against their cap, but Richardson’s signing was likely their shrewdest. He’ll make $10.1 million this season and $10.8 million in 2020-21, per Spotrac. That’s a relative steal for a wing player of his capabilities. He has a player option for 2021-22 and that's where he has the most to gain. If Richardson performs well and helps the Sixers make a deep playoff run, his value should be extremely high as a 29-year-old free agent.

Levick 

As far as contracts are concerned, there aren’t many obvious candidates for players with the most to gain. Backup point guards Raul Neto and Trey Burke, big man Kyle O’Quinn and young players Furkan Korkmaz and Jonah Bolden might qualify on the basis of not having any guarantees beyond this season, but I’m not going with any of those players.

I think Tobias Harris has the most to gain for the Sixers this season, even if he did sign a five-year, $180 million contract this summer. This isn’t about the money, though. 

With Jimmy Butler gone, Harris will now likely be looked to as the Sixers’ primary perimeter scoring option. He won’t need to carry the entire offensive load — Ben Simmons is dangerous in transition and improving in the post, Joel Embiid is dominant down low, Al Horford can do a little bit of everything and Josh Richardson averaged 16.6 points per game last year. But Harris now has the go-ahead to be the best version of himself offensively.

“I just wanted to adapt,” he said on July 12 about his role after joining the Sixers last season. “Not to be complaining about comfort or whatnot. I just wanted to be that guy who puts everything to the side and it’s about winning. Was that hard for me? Not hard for me with who I am, but for my own game, it was hard.”

Before joining the Sixers, Harris was among the top 20 percent of the league as a pick-and-roll ball handler in points per possession for four straight seasons, per NBA.com/Stats. I expect the Sixers to try to cater toward Harris’ strengths more this year. I also think it’s logical to predict Harris will shoot closer to his 42.6 percent mark from three-point range over 87 games with the Clippers than the 32.6 percent he shot from long range with the Sixers.

There’s no money to be gained for Harris, but a first All-Star appearance would be meaningful. It’s a very realistic possibility. 

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Which young player will make the biggest improvement for the Sixers in 2019-20 season?

Which young player will make the biggest improvement for the Sixers in 2019-20 season?

With training camp getting closer, there are plenty of topics to discuss involving the 2019-20 Sixers. Running the Give and Go are NBC Sports Philadelphia's Paul Hudrick and Noah Levick.

In this edition, we ask: Which young player will make the biggest improvement for the Sixers this season?

Hudrick 

It has to be Zhaire Smith. 

Smith appeared on his way to having a lost rookie season after suffering a broken foot and a severe allergic reaction not long after. He lost a ton of weight and basketball seemed secondary to the young man’s health.

But to his credit, Smith worked his tail off. He put up shots with a tube in his stomach. He regained some of his strength and the freakish athleticism he was known for was still in his bag. He miraculously played six games at the end of the regular season and was legitimately in the conversation for playoff minutes.

In those six games, Smith flashed the ability to defend at an extremely high level. His quickness, his understanding of how to fight through screens and just his overall defensive tenacity makes him super intriguing. To see what he battled through last season, you know he has the work ethic and will to get the most out of his athletic abilities.

And, oh yeah, he’s still just 20 years old and learning how to play guard after being a power forward at Texas Tech. He’ll have to make open looks to stay on the floor — something he’s worked on tirelessly — but if he just hovers around league average, what he brings on the other end of the floor will far outweigh anything. He’s continued to add muscle this offseason and could become a defensive demon off Brett Brown’s bench. He'll likely have to fight off rookie first-round pick Matisse Thybulle and 2016 first-rounder Furkan Korkmaz for minutes, but Smith should be up for the challenge.

I also wouldn't be surprised to see him be the first Sixer to participate in the Slam Dunk Contest since Andre Igoudala was robbed of the title in 2006.

Levick

There are quite a few options here, especially if you have a broad definition of “young.”

Joel Embiid and Josh Richardson are still only 25 and 26 years old, respectively, and neither seems to have reached their potential yet. Ben Simmons is 23. Shake Milton is 22 and on a full NBA contract for the first time — same with rookie Matisse Thybulle.

However, I’m confident in going with the youngest player on the team, 20-year-old Zhaire Smith. As a rookie, Smith suffered through a broken foot, a severe allergic reaction and a dramatic weight loss. He’s on the other side of all that now and should play a role for the Sixers in Year 2.

You’d assume the first seven spots in the Sixers’ rotation are entrenched, at least to start the season, with Mike Scott and James Ennis the first two men off the bench. There are minutes to be earned after that, though, and Smith, who played in just six regular-season games last season, has the skills to take them.

Smith knows what his greatest strength is and wants to keep building upon it.

“Every goal he’s ever told me about what he wants to do has to do with defense," Sixers player development coach Tyler Lashbrook told NBC Sports Philadelphia in June. "‘I want to be All-Defense. That’s what I want to do.’ Love it. Love to hear that. Absolutely, man. Let’s do it. That’s a fun thing to hear from somebody. Especially when he’s so young, to know that’s what he cares about is really something.”

A tremendous athlete who threw down plenty of highlight dunks this year in summer league, Smith’s physical abilities — and relentless work ethic — mean that his ambitions aren’t so outlandish in the long term. In the short term, I expect him to help the Sixers off the bench. 



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