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June 20, 2016

What they’re saying about the Sixers: Joel Embiid matters more than the NBA Draft

Just in case you didn’t know, I was kind of a big deal last week:

OK, not really. All of those retweets are thanks to the anticipation that Philadelphia fans have for Joel Embiid to step on the court in a Sixers uniform. One crappy video of the third-overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft turns out to be pretty popular, because people are starved for any Embiid news or video:

That happened last Monday, when Brandon Ingram worked out for the Sixers. Ingram is actually kind of a big deal. You can make a case that he should be the No. 1-overall pick in a couple of days (although he likely won’t be). And while Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo talked about Ingram and his workout, most of the media was only paying half-attention.

That’s because Embiid was working out on the other side of the court. The Inquirer’s Bob Ford did a nice job of capturing what the scene was like down at PCOM: 

It was hard to keep from watching Embiid during this exchange, and during the one about whether Dario Saric will show up this season, even though it would mean a potential financial risk. Embiid took entry passes and spun this way and that. He shot lefthanded. He shot righthanded. He did drop steps. He ducked under. He floated soft hooks through the net. He powered to the basket for dunks. Finally, he did a crossover dribble from right to left behind his legs, took one gigantic stride and rose above the rim, above everything, above all the upturned faces gaping at him, above the very limit of hope an NBA franchise can have in one player, and he brought the ball down through the rim with a crash.

I'm sorry, Bryan. What were you saying?

Ben Simmons will likely bring a world of potential to the Sixers, and the Aussie point forward doesn’t have anywhere near the same injury concerns that Embiid has. But I think it’s safe to say that Embiid’s ceiling is higher, because Embiid’s ceiling is almost nonexistent.

Embiid’s injury concerns are real, though, and the history of big guys with foot problems are ugly. We’ll never know for sure until the 7’2” Kansas product makes it into a game, but as Ford notes, Embiid has the talent to make everything else gravy:

If Embiid can be healthy and play to his obvious abilities, the rest of the roster can just hop on and take a ride. Okafor, Nerlens Noel, Simmons, Ingram, Saric? Doesn't matter. This guy could get Bugs Bunny deep in the playoffs.

If he can't stay on the floor - or for that matter, get on the floor - then the flexibility to build around him disappears. Suddenly, a decision to, say, trade Okafor or Noel becomes perilous.

In case you missed it at PhillyVoice

1.    I recorded a couple of Sixers Beat episodes with Derek Bodner and Kyle Neubeck, one focused on Simmons and WORKOUTGATE and the other on Jahlil Okafor’s trade value. We talked about a lot of other stuff, too.

2.    Simmons ended up having dinner with the Sixers, while Ingram and Jaylen Brown did the full song and dance at PCOM.

3.    Here’s my latest mock draft, with the a projected lottery pick slipping down to the Sixers at 24 due to injury concerns. There will be one more of these on Wednesday.

Other Sixers news, notes and analysis from around the web

Rating Simmons, Ingram and draft prospects, from Tier 1 to Tier 6: Chad Ford, ESPN Insider

Simmons was the only player that cracked Tier 1. Here’s the explanation:

Last draft, we had just one player in this category: Karl-Anthony Towns. This tier is usually reserved for guys who are sure-fire All-Stars or franchise players. Only six other players have been ranked in this slot since we started doing this in 2009: Blake Griffin, John Wall, Anthony Davis, Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid and Jabari Parker. You have to be more than good to get here. You have to be elite.

76ers Musings: Stop Overreacting To Ben Simmons Not Working Out: Derek Bodner, Philly Mag

Don’t reach for a point guard when you’re about to draft a 6’11” one:

Point guard is perhaps the position the Sixers need the least. When you draft Ben Simmons, you do so to put the ball in his hands. That doesn’t mean he’s going to be the only ball handler, but he’s going to be a major ball handler. Probably even the primary ball handler.

That gives you a tremendous amount of flexibility. While there are point guards who can certainly work with Simmons, it becomes less of a priority and less of a requirement to put forth significant resources to acquire one.

The Value of Finding Two-Way Players in the NBA Draft: Michael Levin, Liberty Ballers

Levin explains why the likes of Patrick McCaw and DeAndre Bembry are ranked higher on his big board than Buddy Hield or Jamal Murray:

I used to think that it doesn't matter as much with a superstar -- that your role players can be more one-dimensional if you have LeBron or Durant -- but teams are too smart and too talented these days to run out one-dimensional players against them in crunch time. At the highest level, you just need guys who can hang on both ends, whether it's your superstars or role players.

Weekly Chat: Kevin Pelton, ESPN

Pelton touches on the uncertainty of Okafor’s trade value, a subject we talked about in one of our podcasts:

I could see the Celtics and Pelicans considering him, but I could also see him falling all the way to Chicago at 14 given how few teams in that range need offensive-minded centers.

15 Years Ago Today, Sixers Fans Booed Beyoncé: Dan McQuade, Philly Mag

I was at this game, and Destiny’s Child had no chance. Shaq was singlehandedly destroying the Sixers’ title hopes, and Michelle Williams, unfortunately, was wearing Lakers gear:

“They is where I got in so much trouble for poppin’ off,” Solange later said. “They booed us. At the end I put my hands up and was like, ‘Boooooo back at y’all.’” ESPN reported the group was crying in the arena’s basement afterward.

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann