June 07, 2017
The Sixers held their second round of pre-draft workouts in Camden on Wednesday morning, working out a group of players generally projected to be selected in the second round or go undrafted in the 2017 NBA Draft: Jordan Bell (Oregon), Thomas Bryant (Indiana), Tyler Dorsey (Oregon), Elie Okobo (Élan Béarnais Pau-Orthez), L.J. Peak (Georgetown), and Steve Vasturia (Notre Dame).
“We’ve been here before,” vice president of basketball administration Brandon Williams said. Williams has been Processing since 2013, so he’s well aware of that second-round pick life.
The media gets to watch the last few minutes of the workout, a game of full-court 3-on-3, so there really isn’t too much to glean from our perspective. But here is some of what we saw from observing and talking to a few of the players:
• My personal favorite player in this workout is Bell, a 6’9” forward from Oregon:
The Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, Bell’s defensive versatility (the ability both block shots and move his feet on the perimeter) is his calling card. In fact, his defensive skill set is a lot of what is emphasized when Golden State and Cleveland play in the NBA Finals. I read a good article praising Bell’s defense that also wondered if he’ll be more useful to teams that can win now (read: not the Sixers). Perhaps a few years from now, center defense could matter more when players like Anthony Davis, Joel Embiid, and Karl-Anthony Towns hit their prime.
Regardless of how we try to predict league-wide trends, Bell had a very impressive 8.4 percent block rate in college. Williams compared his style of play to Dennis Rodman and noted that Bell was a volleyball player growing up. That would make two Sixers, along with Embiid.
“If you pick up on some little nuances, he blocks a lot of shots with two hands,” Williams said. “It's very interesting that you can almost see the volleyball player blocking at the net for a player, call him short given how big you think he is at 6-foot-8.”
The Sixers roster is fairly set with young players in the frontcourt, but I wouldn’t mind them taking a swing on Bell with one of their many second-round picks. If anything, he knows his role.
“I know who I am as a player,” Bell said. “Just try to be the best defender, best rebounder, out there blocking shots and getting steals. Offensively, just making the right plays.”
• After connecting through mutual friends, Bell spent some time at Embiid’s place yesterday. In very important news, he said that JoJo was playing a Tour De France video game, which I didn’t know existed.
• Bryant, a 6’10” center, is another player projected in the top half of the second round. His potential value is in his offensive skill level all the way out to the three-point line (.73 FT% and .38 3P% as a young sophomore at IU). Today, I liked how competitive and vocal he seemed to be in the little action we saw.
• Vasturia got the opportunity to sleep in his own bed in Medford, make the short drive to Camden, and work out for the team he grew up cheering for. The St. Joe’s Prep product, who had a successful four-year career while playing a major role for some really good Notre Dame teams, is now getting the chance to work out for other NBA teams like the Nets and Knicks in addition to his hometown Sixers.
“I was at Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals when Iverson had 50 I think,” Vasturia said. “I’ll always remember that. Just going down to the games, the energy, I think it was like the First Union Center back then.”
• Watching the workout with Brett Brown was none other than the Sixers’ new international futbol star. Embiid was in street clothes, but remember that he said in an interview that he expected to be on the court this week.
“They’re doing well,” Bryan Colangelo told reporters on Monday about the health status of Embiid and Ben Simmons. “Everyone’s moving along and things are on pace for a healthy return next season.”
I also spotted Justin Anderson and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot there as well. But that isn’t the big news…
• Furk yeah:
Furkan Korkmaz is scheduled to meet with the Philly media for the first time next week. We’ll ask him some serious stuff about his contract situation and when he believes he’ll be on the Sixers roster and then some really serious stuff about dunking in a Darth Vader costume.
Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann
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