Omari Spellman

Sixers vs. Hawks: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

Sixers vs. Hawks: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

Lloyd Pierce should be able to give his team a better scouting report on the Sixers (3-3) than any other head coach in the NBA.

Pierce, who was hired by the Hawks on May 11 after five years on Brett Brown’s staff, brings his 2-3 Atlanta team to Wells Fargo Center on Monday night.

Last season, Pierce was in charge of a Sixers defense that had the third-best net defense rating in the league. With Billy Lange now in control of the defense, the Sixers are implementing a switch-heavy scheme. Through the first six games, the team hasn’t played up to the high standard Pierce helped set; their 109.2 defensive rating is 14th in the NBA.

Saturday night’s effort in a 105-103 win over Charlotte was perhaps the Sixers' best defensive performance of the season, largely because of an excellent night from Robert Covington, although communication issues were still apparent. 

• There is one very encouraging stat for the defense: Joel Embiid is defending 19 field-goal attempts per game, the most of any player in the league. He defended 14.2 shots per game last season.

Through the first six games, opponents have shot a higher percentage against Embiid (45.6 percent vs. 40.2 percent), which can likely be attributed to both a small sample size and Embiid being switched onto perimeter players more often. 

Still, having opponents take more shots against your best defensive player is undoubtedly a positive for the Sixers.

• Trae Young, who led the country in scoring and assists in his only season at Oklahoma, is the Hawks’ starting point guard, and he’s had the ball in his hands a lot. His 27.2 usage rate is the highest of any rookie. Young is averaging 19.8 points and 6.8 assists on 39.2 percent shooting. It will be interesting to see who the Sixers stick on Young as a primary defender. The length and physicality of either Covington or Ben Simmons could pose serious problems for the 20-year-old.

• Vince Carter is more than twice Young's age — he's 42 years old and still starting in the NBA. He played his first game in Philadelphia on Apr. 14, 1999. Markelle Fultz was less than a year old.

• Though Carter starts for Atlanta, DeAndre’ Bembry, a St. Joe’s product, gets more minutes — 25.8 per game off the bench. Rookie Omari Spellman also played his college basketball in the Philadelphia area, winning a national title last year at Villanova. Spellman is posting 7.5 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. 

Below are the essentials for Monday's matchup:

When: 7 p.m. EST 
Where: Wells Fargo Center
Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia (Pregame Live starts at 6:30 p.m. EST)
Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the MyTeams by NBC Sports app 

Roster
Jerryd Bayless, G, 6-3/210, No. 0 
Jonah Bolden, F, 6-10, 220, No. 43  
Wilson Chandler, F, 6-9/225, No. 22 
Robert Covington, F, 6-9/225, No. 33 
Joel Embiid, C, 7-0/260, No. 21 
Markelle Fultz, G, 6-4/200, No. 20 
* Demetrius Jackson, G, 6-1/200, No. 11 
Amir Johnson, F/C, 6-9/240, No. 5 
Furkan Korkmaz, G/F, 6-7/185, No. 30 
T.J. McConnell, G, 6-2/190, No. 12 
* Shake Milton, G, 6-6/205, No. 18 
Mike Muscala, F/C, 6-11/240, No. 31 
JJ Redick, G 6-4/195, No. 17 13
Dario Saric, F, 6-10/250, No. 9
Landry Shamet, G, 6-5/190, No. 23
Ben Simmons, G/F, 6-10/230, No. 25 
Zhaire Smith, G, 6-4/200, No. 8

* Two-way player

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NBA draft profile: Villanova F Omari Spellman

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USA Today Images

NBA draft profile: Villanova F Omari Spellman

Omari Spellman

Position: Forward

Height: 6-9

Weight: 254

School: Villanova

In last year’s draft, the Sixers had four second-round picks and turned none into players that came to training camp. They sold off two (Nos. 39 and 46) and used the others on draft-and-stashes (Jonah Bolden at No. 36 and Mathias Lessort at No. 50).

Now slated to make another four second-round picks, this draft could have a similar outcome. The Athletic’s Michael Scotto reported Thursday that the Sixers' second-round picks are available for trade and they’re open to moving them in exchange for future second-rounders. This isn’t surprising considering they already have 11 contracts on the books for 2018-19 without including their two first-rounders and incoming free agents.

But should the Sixers use at least one of those picks on non-draft-and-stashes, Omari Spellman is the type of the player they should target. His combination of size, shooting (43.3 percent on 150 attempted threes) and defensive potential makes him an intriguing prospect in today’s NBA. 

A five-star recruit out of high school, Spellman was ruled academically ineligible for his true freshman season. During his redshirt year, Spellman lost 30 pounds and returned to play an integral role in Villanova’s national title run. The 6-9 forward averaged 10.9 points, 8.0 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in 29.1 minutes, earning Big East Freshman of the Year honors as well. He really shined late in the NCAA Tournament, averaging 13 points, 9.5 rebounds and 2.0 blocks from the Sweet 16 beyond.

Strengths 
For Spellman, his catch-and-shoot three-pointer is easily his most translatable NBA skill. Not only did he hit over 43 percent of his overall threes, but Spellman shot around the same clip on triples from NBA three-point range, per The Stepien's shot chart data. While he does most of his scoring out of pick-and-pops and spot-ups, Spellman contributes in other ways; he has good vision and passing skills, cuts and moves off the ball, and crashes the offensive glass.

Defensively, Spellman works hard, is a strong team defender and a surprisingly-good shot blocker. Although he doesn’t leap out of the gym, he has the body and length (7-2 wingspan, 8-11.5 standing reach) to bother opponents in the post and at the rim. And since he can’t simply outjump everyone, Spellman creates space with his body to be an effective defensive rebounder.

Weaknesses
A big that can stretch the floor and pull down offensive boards is already appealing, but can Spellman add more to his game? For instance, as good a shooter he is, if he can put the ball on the floor and create a shot when defenders close out too hard on a spot-up or overplay his shot on a face-up, he’ll become a lot more dangerous. He can also improve at the free throw line after shooting 70 percent at 'Nova.

His other limitations come down to his height and body, of which he's still working to slim down. He doesn’t have great explosiveness jumping off two feet, so he struggles to finish above length around the rim. When he’s switched onto smaller, quicker players, it's tough for him to stay in front. His career's swing skill will be how he defends in space on the perimeter, both in isolations and pick-and-roll coverage.

Since Spellman still has developing to do skill and body-wise, it’s important to note that he’ll already be 21 when he makes his NBA debut.

NBA comparison
While Spellman is a few inches shorter and a better rebounder, the player his game resembles most is Kelly Olynyk. The Heat's forward is a career 37 percent three-point shooter who operates in pick-and-pops and is a solid team defender despite some athletic limitations.

How’d he fit with the Sixers
Even though it sounds like Bolden is coming over next season, Spellman could still carve out a role on the Sixers. He could be utilized as a stretch-five in small lineups to pull opposing centers away from the rim or at the four alongside Joel Embiid or Bolden. Although, unless he cracks the rotation immediately, it's probably best for Spellman’s development to spend time in the G League so he can get a ton of playing time and reps. 

Draft projection 
While all it takes is one team late in the first round to really like him, Spellman will likely be a second-rounder. There’s a good chance he’s there for the Sixers' taking at Nos. 38 and 39, but won’t last until 56 and 60.

More on the Sixers and the NBA draft

Omari Spellman the latest Villanova Wildcat to leave for 2018 NBA draft

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AP Images

Omari Spellman the latest Villanova Wildcat to leave for 2018 NBA draft

When Donte DiVincenzo announced Tuesday he was leaving Villanova for the NBA, it wasn’t much of a surprise.

Wednesday’s news that big man Omari Spellman would also be leaving the defending champs will definitely be a shocker to many. In an Instagram post, Spellman announced that he’s leaving the Wildcats after just one season.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BjaOIMbBct2/?hl=en&taken-by=omarispellman

After missing the 2016-17 season while entrenched in a weird academic eligibility battle, Spellman showed the reason he was a five-star recruit. The redshirt freshman recorded 10.9 points and eight rebounds a night. He also shot an impressive 43 percent on 3.8 threes a game.

Spellman’s skill set should be appealing to NBA teams looking for a stretch four or mobile five. At 6-foot-9 (7-2 wingspan) and 253 pounds, Spellman has an NBA body. He’s a great athlete and an instinctive rebounder who has a shooting touch that extends to the three-point line. The only question may come on the defensive end of the floor when he’s asked to cover quicker stretch fours or true centers.

With his decision to stay in the draft, you have to believe he’s been told he has a chance to go in the first round. If he does, he’ll likely join teammates Mikal Bridges (a projected lottery pick), Jalen Brunson and DiVincenzo as a first-rounder.

The NBA draft takes place on June 21 at Barclays Center in New York.