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Does this Sixers 2016 NBA Draft re-draft even make the team better?

Does this Sixers 2016 NBA Draft re-draft even make the team better?

With sports on hold, everyone is finding interesting sports-related ways to entertain themselves, including some fun thought experiments. One classic example: the re-draft.

The folks over at Bleacher Report have been re-doing recent NBA drafts, and they reached the crucial 2016 NBA Draft, a big moment for The Process. The Sixers finally landed the No. 1 overall pick, and in a draft with a generational talent named Ben Simmons.

A two-time All-Star who has become one of the best defenders and passers in the league, most Sixers fans can't imagine the team without the 6-10 point guard. Apparently, B/R can.

In their re-draft this week, the B/R folks decided to have the Sixers use their No. 1 pick not on Simmons, but on Raptors swingman Pascal Siakam. It feels ... almost blasphemous?

Here's an excerpt from B/R's explanation:

Though fit isn't a primary consideration, it's illustrative of Siakam's worthiness at No. 1 to imagine what the Philadelphia 76ers might look like with him alongside Joel Embiid instead of Simmons. Suddenly, the spacing crunch is gone. Suddenly, defenses would have to guard a Siakam-Embiid pick-and-roll honestly, rather than going under every screen and daring Simmons to shoot (which he won't). Suddenly, the Sixers offer opponents no place to hide, no weakness to exploit—all while giving up almost nothing on defense.

Philly would rather have Siakam than the player it picked, and so should every other team in this draft.

Still feels blasphemous, but also fascinating.

Siakam, who went No. 27 overall in 2016, reached stardom in a very different way than Simmons, going from afterthought to X-factor on an NBA champion seemingly overnight. He, like Simmons, is hyper-athletic and strong on defense. But it's hard to deny his game fits a "build around Embiid" ethos much better that Simmons' game on paper, by spreading the floor and adding a player who can get his own offense in the half court.

Before the 2019-20 season was paused, Siakam was scoring 27.5 percent of his points from beyond the arc, a solid ratio in the modern NBA. His mid-range shot leaves plenty to be desired, but it's certainly more useful and reliable than what Simmons brings to the table outside of, say, eight feet.

So ... would the Sixers actually be better off with Siakam?

It's hard to say, definitively, because building a team on paper is only half the equation. 

Simmons is such a dynamic and creative player. You can place a value on his scoring and assist numbers, but it's much harder to quantify his vision and his defensive gravity. He absolutely needs to become a better shooter if the Sixers, as constructed right now, have a shot at an NBA championship.

But I think the Sixers are happy to keep Simmons, who is just 23 years old and was in the middle of his best season yet before the NBA suspended its season, alongside Embiid as they continue to build a contender. Simmons' ceiling is yet to be realized. On the other hand, it feels like we're approaching Siakam's limit. I'd rather gamble on the still-young star who can maybe become unstoppable. 

If he adds as a mildly consistent jump shot, Simmons is instantly a megastar, and the Sixers are celebrating that No. 1 pick for years to come.

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Sixers fans struggling on 1-year anniversary of Kawhi Leonard's game-winner

Sixers fans struggling on 1-year anniversary of Kawhi Leonard's game-winner

Tuesday marked the one-year anniversary of that gut-wrenching Kawhi Leonard game-winner from last year's NBA postseason, the shot that torpedoed the Sixers' chances at an NBA Finals berth, and helped end the short-lived Jimmy Butler era in Philadelphia. 

That shot.

It was, objectively, one of the most memorable shots in NBA history, so with the entire professional sports world on hold, everyone and their uncle decided to look back on the shot on Tuesday, starting bright and early in the morning.

National sports outlets like ESPN and Bleacher Report plastered perfectly-cut videos of the moment on social media timelines. The NBA, and of course the Raptors, shared their all-too-pleased content. Even NFL reporter Adam Schefter dipped his toes in the Kawhi Shot waters:

It's inescapable!

Which is pretty brutal for Sixers fans, who can't distract themselves with the postseason run their team was supposed to be making around this time of year. They just have memories of last year.

Different fans handled it in their own ways, but it wasn't pretty:

Luckily, the Sixers seemed to know this might be coming, so they put together a pretty neat video of players interacting with fans in this time of social distancing, a cool come-together piece for Philly's hoops die-hards:

Just put that on repeat. It's a good way to forget... that shot.

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Sixers suffer 2 losses in Toronto as Josh Richardson exits with injury against Raptors

Sixers suffer 2 losses in Toronto as Josh Richardson exits with injury against Raptors

The Sixers’ modest road winning streak has come to an end.

They fell Wednesday night to the Raptors at Scotiabank Arena, 107-95, snapping a run of two straight away wins and four straight victories overall.

The defeat drops them to 29-17 this season, 5-3 since Joel Embiid has been sidelined because of a torn ligament in the ring finger of his left hand. The Sixers, who next play the Lakers on Saturday night at Wells Fargo Center, haven’t won a regular-season game in Toronto since Nov. 10, 2012. 

Here are observations on the loss: 

Another starter suffers an injury 

With 8:08 to go in the first quarter, Brett Brown called a timeout as Josh Richardson grabbed at his left hamstring. The Sixers’ guard left the game with a left hamstring strain and did not return. 

Richardson came into Wednesday’s game averaging 15.4 points, 3.5 assists and 3.4 rebounds. His perimeter defense, shot creation and pick-and-roll ability have been valuable skills. 

The 26-year-old missed six games in a row from Nov. 29 to Dec. 8 because of right hamstring tightness. 

Richardson’s replacements 

Shake Milton entered when Richardson left, his 13th NBA appearance this season. The second-year player started brightly, sinking a three-pointer from the right wing on his first shot. 

However, Milton only made 2 of his next 9 shots and was outmuscled on a couple of plays. He was passable overall in a tough spot. 

Furkan Korkmaz chipped in 17 points (6 of 13 shooting) off the bench, his fifth straight game in double figures. This was one of Korkmaz’s better defensive efforts, too. 

The Sixers also looked to Tobias Harris to fill the scoring void without Richardson. Harris had a team-high 22 points on 18 shots.

Al Horford faded after hitting a couple of early jumpers and shot 3 for 11.

Turnover problems for Simmons

After his 34-point triple-double Monday night in Brooklyn, Ben Simmons could not meet that same extremely high level again.

Though Simmons was aggressive on the offensive boards and had 10 assists, he also turned it over six times in the first half, which enabled the Raptors to get back into the game after they trailed by 14 points in the first quarter. The turnovers were a combination of the Raptors simply doing a good job of walling Simmons off in the open floor and Simmons either being slow to make a decision when encountering a set defender or choosing the wrong pass. To Simmons’ credit, he’d only averaged 2.1 turnovers over his previous nine games.

The other main reasons the Sixers’ lead evaporated in the second were that they missed a lot of the open three-point looks they’d made in the first period and didn’t get to the foul line enough. They shot 2 of 9 from three and scored 15 second-quarter points, while Harris was the only Sixer besides Simmons to attempt a free throw in the first half. 

A first loss with Thybulle starting 

Matisse Thybulle started for his fifth straight game but left after just three minutes when he picked up his second foul on a Kyle Lowry pump fake, leaving his feet and making the sort of mistake he’s talked about learning to avoid.

Thybulle is usually a peripheral offensive player and has struggled with his shot since returning from his right knee injury — although he did knock down two fourth-quarter threes. Still, he’s shown a consistent ability to start and finish fast breaks, like he did early in the third quarter when he stole the ball and blazed past the lumbering Marc Gasol for a dunk. 

The duo of Thybulle and Simmons seemed to get their hands on every other pass the Raptors tried during a stretch early in the third.

The Sixers are now 7-1 when Thybulle starts.

Pelle’s final day — for now 

Norvel Pelle played in Wednesday’s game, meaning he’s used up every one of the 45 NBA days he’s allotted under his two-way contract. He had one point, four rebounds and two blocks in 12 minutes.  

Though the Sixers opted against converting Pelle to a NBA deal because of their desire to maximize flexibility ahead of the Feb. 6 trade deadline, he could still get an NBA spot with the Sixers if a roster slot ultimately becomes open.

For now, the energetic, rim-protecting rookie is in an odd limbo and must stay with the Delaware Blue Coats, the Sixers’ G-League affiliate. 

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