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April 04, 2017

What they’re saying: Among teams at bottom of NBA standings, Sixers roster has best future

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Like all teams sitting at the bottom of the NBA standings, the Sixers are now playing out the string, jockeying for lottery position and the odds to increase the value of their draft picks. And with the dark turn that the 2016-17 season has taken, there has been a lot of negativity hurled in the direction of your Philadelphia 76ers over the past couple of months.

I get that, I really do. But even with Bryan’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad February, I still see a pretty bright future here despite the Sixers’ current record. There is a popular catchphrase around here for such an attitude around here, right?

The same goes for The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor, who ranked the Sixers tops among the NBA’s ten worst teams based on “how optimistic they should be heading into the offseason.”

Hey now! That’s pretty good! Brett Brown’s ballclub was even ranked above the Timberwolves who have a healthy DRAGON (I’m searching for a term that is better than “unicorn”) in Karl-Anthony Towns:

The above video, taken in February, features Joel Embiid and Dario Saric going one-on-one, and Ben Simmons getting some shots up. Given the injuries experienced by Embiid and Simmons, it’s gratifying to see. These are Philly’s three reasons for hope — even if one of them didn’t play a game and the other appeared in just 31. The nice thing about the Sixers roster is it can take different shapes. Robert Covington is developing into an effective 3-and-D wing, but in smaller lineups, he can slide up a position. Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot needs to get his shot fixed, but he’s shown major flashes this past month as a versatile wing. Richaun Holmes is part of an unusual class of big men who can shoot 3s, protect the rim, and rebound effectively.

The 76ers’ future draft picks assuredly factored in with the ranking as well. Regardless of whether you quibble with his opinion, O’Connor makes a good point about the development of the role players on the Sixers roster developing. Bryan Colangelo has some “optionality” going on right about now.

In case you missed it at PhillyVoice

1.    Mailbag: Has Richaun Holmes’ recent play made me reevaluate the Sixers trade that sent Nerlens Noel to Dallas? The answer may surprise you.

2.    Medical missteps? Look up and down the 76ers roster and there are injuries. Add Robert Covington and Jahlil Okafor to the walking wounded now.

3.    Brett's big year: The biggest winner of this Sixers season? It’s Brett Brown, by a mile.

4.    Sixers Beat Podcast: On the latest pod, with the Sixers schedule reaching a bit of a dead period, we talked about the Kings’ reported interest in Sam Hinkie, Sixers injuries, and draft prospects we enjoyed watching in the NCAA Tournament.

5.    NBA Draft: A lot of mock drafters are linking Kentucky’s Malik Monk to the Sixers, who are in the middle of the standings when it comes to the draft-pick tracker.

6.    Boy Wonder: The Sixers – and their 20-year-old math whiz – want to help you win at daily fantasy sports

7.    Magic trick: Did Orlando reveal it would trade Aaron Gordon for Dario Saric?

Other Sixers news, notes and analysis from around the web

The Bill Simmons Podcast with Steve Nash: The Ringer

The age of League Pass at the NBA being discussed ad nauseam on the internet can be a pretty cool thing. At around the 17:30 mark, T.J. McConnell received an unsolicited shout-out from the great Steve Nash:

“The point guard in Philly, the kid from Arizona, he’s a pure point guard, he makes their team better. I like watching Philly a little bit, and he’s kind of overmatched in a lot of ways but he’s smart, he’s tough, and he can make plays. He’s a pure point guard and there’s still tons of value for that I think.”

Ranking top sophs and best futures from 2015 NBA draft class: Chad Ford and Kevin Pelton, ESPN Insider

In terms of the Sixers’ draft haul in 2015, it’s good news/bad news. Richaun Holmes, a second-round pick, is listed in the Top-10 on both lists but Jahlil Okafor, who just so happened to be the No. 3 overall selection in the entire draft, didn’t make the cut.

So yeah, the Sixers roster is weird:

Who would've guessed that the best center the Sixers drafted in 2015 would be Richaun Holmes (the 37th pick), not Okafor (the third pick)? Since he moved into the starting lineup, Holmes has been averaging 14.5 points per game and seven rebounds per game in about 27 minutes per game.

Kia Rookie Ladder: Scott Howard-Cooper,

For what it’s worth, Howard-Cooper still has Embiid at the top of his rookie rankings. I don’t agree with that, but hey, he’s not going to be the only one:

The 76ers said he will resume basketball activities in the summer after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left knee, which is not to be confused with Embiid playing in Salt Lake City and Las Vegas for summer league. He may still need to make an important appearance, out of uniform, to accept Rookie of the Year, though. Some voters continue to list him at the top of their ballot, while remaining open to a switch.

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann