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May 20, 2017

What they're saying: Sixers a 'perfect fit' for Lonzo, trading Simmons and more

The 2017 NBA Draft is exactly one month from Monday – June 22 at The Barclays Center in Brooklyn – and there's plenty to discuss between now and then, from which player the Sixers should take with the third-overall pick to whether or not they should even keep that selection.

Don't worry. We'll get to that stuff in a minute.

But first, some non-draft-related news:

•  The finalists for 2017 NBA Rookie of the Year were announced on Friday night. No surprises here, but congrats to Embiid and Saric:

•  The Sixers' first summer league schedule (Utah) is out. They're one of four teams – each team plays three games, facing every opponent once.

July 3: vs. Boston
July 5: vs. Utah
July 6: vs. Spurs

•  The Sixers will also be one of (a record) 24 teams to take part in the Las Vegas Summer League. They'll play at least five games, and with the league starting on July 7, it'll be a quick turnaround. The schedule isn't out yet, but here's a look at the other teams taking part:

San Antonio
Golden State
L.A. Lakers
L.A. Clippers
New Orleans

We'll let you know when the full schedule for Vegas is released.

And before we take a look at what they're saying, here's a look at what we're saying:

•  Why I'm actually starting to feel sorry for those who never trusted Hinkie's Process  [Mullin]

 Mailbag: Should Sixers sign J.J. Redick in free agency?  [Hofmann]

•  Draft scenario du jour: Selling the No. 3 pick back to Kings ... with interest  [Mullin/Hofmann]

•  How latest NBA Draft and free agency rumors affect Sixers  [Hofmann]

Now, on to the good stuff...

Building a title team around Embiid, Simmons?

Mike Sielski | The Philadelphia Inquirer

Sielski takes a look at the what role the Sixers' other pieces may play in the long-term plan:

The tricky part of the rebuilding, the less-considered part, is finding and cultivating a strong enough supporting cast around that core. That's where the realistic value of any draft picks outside the lottery, such as Luwawu-Cabarrot and Korkmaz, or any undrafted signees, lies. What does "realistic" mean? Over the 10 drafts before last year's, it means that you have a 1-in-20 chance of drafting an all-star guard with either the No. 24 or No. 26 pick (Kyle Lowry in 2006) and a less-than-50-percent chance of selecting a solid-to-excellent starter or rotation player.

It's that aspect of roster construction that the Sixers have to shore up. They found and developed two undrafted players, Robert Covington and T.J. McConnell, into helpful, supplementary players - Covington as an excellent wing defender and competent offensive player, McConnell as a legitimate backup point guard. They added enough hide to Nik Stauskas that, after two awful seasons, he became a better-than-average three-point shooter and, overall, a tougher, more tenacious player last season. If Jerryd Bayless is healthy this season, he could be the kind of combo guard who, in theory, would fit alongside Simmons. []

Willing to trade Simmons for No. 1 pick?

Shamus Clancy | Liberty Ballers

As part of his mailbag, Shamus was asked what he'd be willing to give up in order to draft Markell Fultz. Here's what he had to say:

I think Simmons is going to be a great, great pro. I’m just slightly more inclined to believe that Fultz reaches that top tier of stardom in the NBA. You’re all welcome to save this and rub it in my face when Simmons is a perennial All-NBA guy and Fultz can’t get off the bench on a super-deep Celtics team too.

As for what I would give up instead of Simmons, I would include either the 2018 Lakers pick or 2019 Kings pick in addition to the third pick this year. I’m not sure if that gets it done, but I can’t stomach giving away two unprotected picks from dysfunctional teams. Is Dario Saric a throw-in here? If he’s the difference to give the Sixers a Fultz-Simmons-Embiid core, I think Bryan Colangelo would have to do it. []

Ball a perfect fit for the Sixers?

Jonathan Tjarks | The Ringer

I don't know if Lonzo would be a "perfect fit" for the Sixers, but I'm 100 percent sure LaVar would be a terrible fit for the city of Philadelphia – more specifically, its fan base. 

[If the Lakers pass on Ball, he won’t fall] far at all. I think the perfect fit for Lonzo — at least when it comes to matters on the court — is actually no. 3 to Philly, where he could play off of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. That team would be amazing. The great thing about using him in a complementary role in the offense is he can shoot the ball from way behind the 3-point line, really stretching out the defense. He also doesn’t need the ball in his hands much to significantly boost a team’s ball movement. He had a usage rate of only 18.1 at UCLA this season (Markelle Fultz, in comparison, had a usage rate of 31.4), and Ball really empowered secondary ball handlers like Bryce Alford and Aaron Holiday. The ball doesn’t stick with Lonzo — he was either taking the shot or moving it within a couple of seconds — and that had a contagious effect on the rest of the team. UCLA returned most of its players from 2016 (when the Bruins were the 117th-ranked offense in the nation), yet their team-wide assist numbers went through the roof, which the team largely attributed to Lonzo’s style of play. It becomes a lot easier to make the extra pass when you know it will come back to you. Long story short, I would be stunned if the 76ers didn’t take him if he’s there at no. 3.  []

Sixers plan on working out Dennis Smith Jr.

Adam Zagoria |

I'd be shocked if Smith is the guy at No. 3, but if Bryan Colangelo decides to trade back, he would make a lot more sense for the Sixers.

The Knicks and 76ers are among the teams who’ve reached out to N.C. State point guard Dennis Smith Jr.’s camp to set up workouts ahead of the NBA Draft, a source told ZAGSBLOG.  []

They were also reportedly scouting French guard Frank Ntilikina:

Brown: Getting Lakers pick actually a good thing

Enrico Campitelli | The700Level

I've finally figured out how Brett Brown has survived all this losing. He's delusional...

"I personally think not getting the Lakers' pick (in 2017), where we get their unprotected pick in 2018, is a good thing for the organization. It doesn't change the rules on how we teach and grow, it reinforces it even more, but the reality that we're still coaching twenty-year-olds still comes with great challenges." []

Korkmaz interested in joining Sixers next season?

Jessica Camerato |

Turkish shooting guard Furkan Korkmaz was the 26th pick in 2016. He stayed in Europe this past season due to a hefty buyout in his contract with Anadolu Efes. Just like Dario Saric, he's never coming over. 

“I believe he’s got a desire to come,” Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo said Wednesday. …

“We’re debating whether it’s the best thing or not,” Colangelo said. “Some of it will come down to the financial concerns on his part. There’s a draft salary swap, as you know, for rookie scale contracts. That No. 26 pick in last year’s draft would move forward to this year’s scale, but it’s also ratcheted up a little bit with the new CBA so it’s made it, perhaps, a little bit more palatable. But he’s got a fairly significant buyout and that’s going to be factored into his thinking as he’s going through this.” []

McCollum makes sense for Sixers

Jason Blevins | The Sixer Sense
There's been a lot of talk about J.J. Reddick lately, but what about Lehigh product C.J. McCollum?

Ben Simmons is your point guard, full stop. As Brett Brown has repeatedly stated, the offense is going to continue to focus on “pace and space”. Ben Simmons will push the ball in transition and initiate the offense in pick and roll situations. Embiid and Saric will be the primary screen setters but what is of critical need is two other floor spacers to create the room to effectively run a pick and roll. Floor spacers value go beyond the analytical value of the 3-point shot. Viable deep threats create “gravity” that for a defense to extend out and leave passing lanes open in the paint. []

Sixers have history of building around guys like Simmons

Bob Ford | The Philadelphia Inquirer
More importantly, they faced unique challenges in doing so – and it's not any different this time around:

Merely drafting or trading for the best talent - a philosophy that put them in the difficult position of having three centers who considered themselves starters - will be somewhat subordinate to finding the puzzle piece that fills the gaps they have now or anticipate having.

As the Sixers contemplate an offense employing an unusually tall point guard, or whatever positional term you want to apply to Simmons, it's interesting to consider that no franchise has more experience with trying to construct a champion around a great player who has a nontraditional skill set for his size. Twice before, with Hall of Fame players, the Sixers took a shot at it and didn't succeed. Those were different organizations each time, but assembling a championship roster around the greatest 6-5 power forward in the history of the game or the greatest 6-0 combo guard ever proved elusive. []

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