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July 18, 2017

What they’re saying about the Sixers: Lonzo Ball is a better passer than Ben Simmons

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There may be a nice little rivalry brewing between the Sixers and Lakers even before many of their respective building blocks play an NBA game. Of course, this all started with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid making fun of LaVar Ball on draft night:

Embiid continued a well-documented back-and-forth with LaVar, which earned him a fine from the NBA. If anything, the first Sixers-Lakers game this upcoming season promises to be more interesting than it should be. My guess is that it will be on national television.

For now though, we can only speculate. And after Lonzo Ball had a very strong summer league performance for the Lakers, ESPN’s Kevin Pelton was asked whether he felt Ball or Simmons is a better passer coming into the NBA. He sided with Ball:

I'd say Ball, and I don't think it's particularly close. Simmons is an exceptional passer for someone 6 foot 10, which is a key part of his appeal, but relative to point guards, I don't think he's anything special as a passer. (Of course, because of his size, many of his other skills are unique for a point guard.)

Ball's court vision and ability to deliver passes on time and on target are remarkable even among point guards. His projected assist rate based on his translated college performance is second among freshmen in my database (which is complete through the past decade) behind Kendall Marshall. So I'd definitely take Ball as a passer over Simmons.

I would agree that Ball is a better passer (his court vision is very unique), but because Simmons is so massive and skilled, I do think that his passing could potentially be devastating in the NBA if the rest of his game develops.

And for what it’s worth, Simmons tweeted something nice about Ball after the latter’s great performance against the Markelle Fultz-less Sixers in Las Vegas last week:

Sixers news and coverage at PhillyVoice

1.    Staying abroad: In some mid-July Sixers news, Jonah Bolden is staying overseas this season… but not with the club that we initially thought.

2.    Balloons, balloons: Joel Embiid is now, in a pretty strange way, being sold for lumber and tools.

3.    Rough homecoming: Allen Iverson unfortunately didn’t play in front of all the Sixers fans at the Wells Fargo Center on Sunday night.

4.    Sorry, not sorry: Joel Embiid doesn’t sound like he’s sweating the LaVar Ball fine.

5.    Club 76: The Sixers season ticket club shares its name with another establishment.

Other Sixers news, notes and analysis from around the web

Here’s a nice little video thread from Draft Express’ Joshua Riddell on the strengths and weaknesses of Robert Covington’s game:

Evaluating the Wolves, Sixers and Nuggets as playoff hopefuls: James Herbert, CBS Sports

Herbert tackles the subject that we wrote about last week, the Sixers potentially making the playoffs. It sounds like he’s in:

They most likely will make the playoffs in the weak East. Everyone loves their starting five, but just as important is the fact that the guys who often started last year -- Dario Saric, Richaun Holmes, T.J. McConnell, Nik Stauskas, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot -- will look much better as reserves. If they stay healthy, this could be the beginning of something special.

2017 NBA Summer League: Winners And Losers: Ben Golliver, Sports Illustrated

Golliver had the Sixers as losers for their summer league performance, which is hard to argue even if it might not matter all that much:

Let’s not belabor this one any more than necessary: The last thing Philadelphia wanted or needed was another No. 1 pick to succumb to injury. Thankfully, 2017 top pick Markelle Fultz only sprained his ankle, but it still proved to be an ultimate bummer given that the fluky injury happened in the Sixers’ first game. So much for watching Fultz go head-to-head against Ball. So much for a post-trade showdown with Jayson Tatum.

A Way-Too-Early 2017 NBA Redraft: Jonathan Tjarks and Kevin O’Connor, The Ringer

The Ringer guys still took Markelle Fultz first in the re-draft, but they seem to have some questions about the Sixers chemistry:

I really wanted to not take Fultz here since he got injured, but the guy is too great a basketball player not to go first. I’m still all in on Markelle, though I do think the leadership concerns around him are legitimate. I talked to someone in the Philly organization who said Dario Saric was the leader of its young core, that he was one of the nicest and hardest-working guys he had ever been around. It makes sense when you consider all the whispers about Ben Simmons and what a goofball Joel Embiid tends to be.

Soccer star Paul Pogba tried to guard Joel Embiid, got dunked on: Kyle Neubeck, PhillyVoice

Embiid, a huge soccer fan, seems to be hanging out with Manchester United star Paul Pogba in Los Angeles a good a bit in Los Angeles.


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