Don’t Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth: The Sixers should draft Josh Jackson

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(The Associated Press)

Even though the Sixers didn’t win the lottery, it really kinda feels like the Sixers won the lottery.

I mean, THE PICKS ACTUALLY SWAPPED! The Sixers were able to move up from what should of been the fifth spot in the draft and are now sitting snuggly at the third pick.

The ghost of Sam Hinkie can finally rest in peace.

While the only thing that could have been better would be if the Laker’s pick had conveyed as well, the Sixers may actually be in the most ideal situation as they are now set with at least two first round picks in each of the next two drafts.

The team is now very well endowed with future draft picks, have a Scrooge McDuck bank vault worth of cap space at their disposal, all while already having potential franchise cornerstones in place in Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. Things are looking up for the Process.

The Sixers have more assets now than ever before and are quickly running out of holes to fill in their roster. The team is getting close to competing, but are still a few years away from being a legitimate threat in the East. The time to draft for need is rapidly approaching, but we’re not quite there yet. Going best player available is still the best course of action; especially considering the best player available won’t be a big man.

The Sixers are lucky enough to be picking third in this draft and really shouldn’t over think the pick. if Josh Jackson is on the board when the Sixers are on the clock, they’d be wise to take him.

At 6’8, with a 6’9 wing span, Jackson averaged 21.2 pts per 40 minutes in his lone season at Kansas, as well as 7.4 rebs and 3 asts, highlighting the versatility that makes him such a valuable prospect. he has the size and athleticism to play either the 2 or 3, as well as the ball handling, vision, and IQ to rotate in at the 1 on occasion. He primarily played the role of small ball 4 at Kansas, but projects best as a wing in the NBA. The Sixers are pretty set at wing players as is, but Jackson offers a skill set too unique to pass up.

Jackson’s game is based heavily on his dynamic athletic ability. While his offensive game is going to need a bit of coaching due to his inconsistent jump shot, he has a dangerous first step to get into the lane and once he makes his move he’s almost impossible to stop. Once in the lane, he’s also good at finding open teammates underneath the net for easy baskets *cough* *cough* Ben Simmons and Joel Emiid.

His jump shot is the biggest concern of his offensive game and it’s difficult to tell if it will translate to the pros as he shot just 56.6% from the charity stripe at Kansas and was iffy shooting the trey to start the season. However, his three point stroke greatly developed throughout the year as he sank 25 of 52 three pointers over the last two months of the season, finishing 37.8% from 3.

The idea of Jackson playing off ball alongside Ben Simmons is the most exciting thought to me. He’s already great at cutting to the basket and would be an easy lob target at the rim. He’s also much better at catch-and-shoot three’s rather than shooting off the dribble – he shot 39% on those specific shots – and could benefit from Simmons floor spacing and passing ability.

His ball handling and vision are above average for a wing player and Jackson’s all around IQ might be the best part of his game. He is skilled enough to find open looks in transition as well as run the offense in the half court. He plays at a pace perfect for Brett Brown’s offense. Pairing him with Ben Simmons would give the Sixers two skilled facilitators who aren’t natural point guards, which would allow for a lot of creative lineups.

Defense is Jackson’s main calling card as he is a shutdown defender capable of guarding the 1-4. He is great at rotating assignments, clogging passing lanes, and going coast-to-coast on steals for easy baskets. He is also extremely pesky as he averaged 2.2 steals and 1.4 blocks per 40 minutes. Kawhi Leonard is a common comparison for Jackson and it’s not because of his three point stroke. A lineup consisting of McConell-Jackson-Covington-Simmons-Embiid has the makings of a lockdown defensive unit.

Jackson’s so good on the defensive end some might even say he plays *puts on sunglasses* Tenacious D.

While a player like Malik Monk offers a better fit and has a skill set that fills a much bigger need, his ceiling is miles below that of Josh Jackson. Jackson has perennial All-Defensive potential, while it wouldn’t surprise me if Monk simply became the next JR Smith.

Monk offers knock-down three point shooting, electric athleticism, and is great at getting to the basket in transition, but little outside of that and his high volume scoring faded down the stretch. Jackson offers almost everything Monk doesn’t and then some.

The Sixers have the means to acquire a shooter in the mold of Monk either through future draft picks, via trade, or in free agency. Player’s like Jackson don’t come around often and the ones that do aren’t easily acquired.

The addition of Jackson would also make someone like Robert Covington expendable. In the event the Celtics are willing to move him, the idea of a trade based around Avery Bradley for Covington doesn’t seem too crazy to me and would solve needs for both teams.

Josh Jackson’s floor is higher than any prospect not named Markell Fultz due to his versatility and treasure trove of skills. While he wouldn’t necessarily be filling a need, Jackson would be able to make an impact on this team almost instantly either defensively, as a secondary ball handler, or as a high-energy spark off the bench. He’s one of the safest picks in the draft and if he’s there at #3, he should be a Sixer.

Plus, he would give the Sixers another afro to play along Joel Embiid and if that alone isn’t enough to justify the pick, than I don’t know what is.

Heart and Hustle Paving the Way For “The Process”

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Merlons Noel was pivotal in the Sixers win over the Clippers posting 19 points and eight rebounds.

Without Joel Embiid the Sixers were able to overcome a 19-point deficit to defeat a talented Clippers team last night. In the last 21:40 to play, the Sixers outscored the Clippers 62-32 to ensure the team’s 121-110 victory and their ninth win in the last 10 games.

The Clippers were missing their best player, Chris Paul, due to an injury as well. Despite Paul sitting, the Sixers were able to show the talent-flooded Clippers with Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan that “The Process” is for real.

Is this a fluke? How could the Sixers’ Embiidless line up even compete with a NBA Finals contending team in the Clippers? The answer is their gritty hustle and the newly found energy surrounding the team that comes from flashes of future greatness.

With future stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons sitting out, the Sixers’ lineup did not have much skill, but they made up for it in hustle. They showed that if they put everything they have on the court, the possibilities for this team are endless.

Austin Rivers of the Clippers shared his thoughts on the Sixers after the loss, “They kept fighting, kept doing what they are supposed to do. Everybody knows that’s they M.O., man. They don’t have the talent that we have. They don’t have the talent that we have. They don’t have the talent that other teams have. So they bank everything on playing hard. They outwork teams. That’s what they do.” Rivers noticed a special fire in this young team that kept them fighting.

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Austin Rivers was ernest with the media sharing his views on the Sixers and their lack of talent.

The heart and toughness this team shows on the floor has put them through this January surge. They are now ranked in the top ten in the NBA for defensive efficiency and are among the hottest teams in the NBA. This is a result of the hard-hitting big men under the rim and the hustle plays from the rest of the team. With Noel and Holmes protecting the pain, while scoring a combined 37 points, and the backcourt players giving their all to stop the opponent, the Sixers were able to apply aggressive, defensive pressure to the Clippers resulting in a win.

The reason this type of old school, rugged defense is working because it’s rare in the NBA. Most teams have players on large contracts with a ton of NBA experience, which tends to correlate with a lax style of play with the intention of being healthy and energized for a playoff run.

What makes the Sixers a special kind of team this year is their youth. Of the 15 players on their roster, 10 of them are under 25-years-old. Most of these players have not had the opportunity to sign big contracts or have experienced the taste of winning. Thus, the lack of experience on the Sixers roster has formed a college style culture around the team that leads them to play their hearts out on a group level rather than an individual level like the NBA.

This scrappy, tough, underdog style of play is representative of the City of Philadelphia. The fans and the team feed off each other’s energy and are creating something special for Philadelphia Sports. With the combination of the All-Star ability of Embiid, the imminent return of Ben Simmons, the hustle culture in the organization and the passion Philly fans have for this team, there are no holds barred on the future success of the Sixers.

This is “The Process”. Who’s next?

I Have Seen The Face of God and It Is Joel Embiid

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God, I love this man.

Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God. Everyone just saw what I saw right? Because I have just witnessed great things.

20 points and seven rebounds in 22 minutes of play. Ladies and gentlemen, Joel Embiid has finally arrived.

This was a debut three years in the making and my God it was worth every minute of waiting. This debut made all the sucking, ridicule, and pointless basketball worth it.

When you clown one of the NBA’s better low post defenders and force defenses to double team you in your first game as a professional, you know you have a special talent on your hands. It only gets better when you consider the fact Embiid started telling Adams “you can’t guard me,” while walking to the foul line.

If it wasn’t already obvious from his Twitter, Jojo has the swag to go with his skill. God bless LeBron James when he finally has to play the Sixers, he should of just accepted Joel’s pitch to join the team when he had the chance.

Joel showed the type of ball handling you don’t see from seven footers. Joel blocked shots like goalie. Joel looked nimble enough to recite Swan Lake. Joel did a pretty accurate impression of Hakeem Olajuwon. Joel shot the ball like he was a bad man who just didn’t give a shit; and he was.

The Process, as Joel Embiid so appropriately wants to be called, had an impact on every aspect of the game from the moment he stepped on the court. The Thunder are playoff contenders in a very tough Western Conference and they had a very difficult time accounting for Embiid. The guy had MVP chant rain down on him, and they were honestly justified.

REMINDER: This was Joel Embiid’s first professional game ever.

Sam Hinkie died for our sins and Joel Embiid is his prodigal son.

It’s impossible to not be excited as a Sixers fan watching that game despite the final results. If Joel Embiid is the future, than the future is bright. Actually strike that, the future isn’t bright, ITS LIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIT!!!!!!!

76ers Draft Review: It was pretty great

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Does anyone have a pair of sunglasses I can borrow? BECAUSE IT IS SO FREAKIN LIT!

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect going into Bryan Colangelo’s first draft as Sixers’ GM. The thought of Andrea Bargnani was more than enough to scare me shitless.

As weary as I’ve been of Bryan since taking Sam Hinkie’s job I’ve gotta admit, Uncle Jerry’s baby boy really hit this one out of the park.

Coming away with the draft’s best player and two of its biggest steals is a great way to start your tenure as GM.

And what’s even more important is the Sixers didn’t overpay to get back in the draft’s top eight. Danny Ainge has a history of fleecing people in trades, which is a big reason why the Celtics had the third overall pick in the first place, but not ol’ Bryan. He stuck to his guns and wouldn’t accept any deal he didn’t find fair. Kris Dunn would of been nice and all, but not overpaying for Kris Dunn is even better.

The one down side to this draft, and this is a biggey, is the fact the Sixers still have yet to address the gapping hole at point guard. Colangelo has already said the team will address the position through free agency, but it would of been nice to see them get back into the draft to take someone like Tyler Ulis or Demetrius Jackson somewhere in the second round.

The point guard stuff really ain’t that deep though, it’s more me just being picky. If anyone complains about the draft the Sixers just had, they deserve to get smacked in the mouth.

1st Overall: Ben Simmons SF/PF LSU

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The Sixers got the best player in the draft. There really isn’t anything more to say here.

Ben Simmons is the type of player you suck for three seasons to try and get. He is a unique player with a rare skill set that does not come around very often.

He has yet to officially wear a Sixers jersey and he’s arguably the best player on the team already. But then again his main competition for that spot has yet to ever officially wear a Sixers jersey either.

I’ll put it this way, scouts have said Ben Simmons right now is a rich man’s Lamar Odom, but Ben Simmons with a jump shot is Magic Johnson; that’s how good this kid could be.

In time, Ben Simmons could be the most versatile player in the NBA and if his jump shot comes around he could be a perennial All-NBA type player. He is the real deal.

You can read more of my thoughts on Ben Simmons and what he means to the Sixers here.

24th Overall: Timothe Luwawu SG/SF France

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I’ll admit, I screamed like a little girl when this pick came in.

Luwawu was one of my favorite players in the draft; albeit due largely to KK Mega Vizura’s sexy unis, but I digress. I expected him to go in the early post lottery 15-20 range. Having him fall to the Sixers was unbelievable, but Bryan Colangelo actually drafting him was even more miraculous.

I see this as one of the biggest steals of the draft

Luwawu is a versatile 3 and D wing who is liable to destroy any net that looks at him the wrong way. He has a ton of upside coming out of France due to his athleticism and defensive ability. The frenchman also saw his three point shot jump about ten percentage points in the past season which is very encouraging. He’s even been described as, “The type of wing every team wants”.

Oh and he’s 6’7 with a 6’11 wingspan, so there’s that too.

Timothe Luwawu is already 21 years old and could come stateside this season if he feels so inclined. That’ll be something to keep an eye on in the coming weeks.

In a weak draft class, taking a chance on the springy frenchman with the sweet shot is a safe gamble.

Watch this if you wanna see Timothe do some mean things with a basketball.

26th Overall: Furkan Korkmaz SG/SF Turkey

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Yep, the Sixers got themselves another Furkan.

Korkmaz is another projected late lottery prospect who was a total steal for the Sixers. He was rated as the second best international prospect in the draft and fell all the way to 26.

At only 18 years old, Korkmaz has uber upside. He is one of the most polished three point shooters in the draft and could provide the Sixers with some desperately needed floor spacing.

He’s is a capable ball handler who can create his own shots and dish the ball a little bit. He is athletic enough to play above the rim and has even won dunk contests in the past.

A former teammate of Dario Saric’s, Furkan will more than likely be stashed overseas for the next few seasons due to his age, slight frame, and contract. He is a very exciting prospect the Sixers now have in their back pocket. After a few more years of seasoning, Furkan could come to the league and become a dangerous complimentary scoring option once he’s properly ripened.

Watch this if you wanna see Furkan Korkmaz being a bad man.

 

Ben Simmons Over Brandon Ingram: It’s what the Process would of wanted

THE FUTURE IS NOW!

It took three seasons, millions lost in ticket and memorabilia sales, the franchise and their former general manager became the laughing stock of the NBA, but it finally happened. The Sixers are the proud owners of the number one pick in this year’s NBA draft.

It took the team nearly breaking the NBA record for worst single season record, but they FINALLY have the first overall pick in the draft.

Now there’s only the matter of deciding who become’s the new face of the franchise: Ben Simmons or Brandon Ingram?

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Brandon Ingram’s shot chart from Duke just tells us what we already know, he’s good at shooting deep. Via Draft Express.

Both come with their positives and neither is true  “can’t miss” prospect, but after the Trail of Tears Sixers fans had to endure known as the Process the choice absolutely, unequivocally has to be one Mr. Benjamin Simmons.

Don’t get me wrong, I get the hype with Brandon Ingram.

A KD lookalike, with a 7’3 wing span, and a silky smooth jumper, what’s not to love? But let’s be real, dude ain’t no Ben Simmons.

For all that is being made of Brandon Ingram’s scoring prowess, the guy didn’t even lead Duke in scoring last year. That honor went to Ted Cruz’s doppelgänger. There were times when Ingram would disappear for stretches and he could be contained on occasion by more elite defenses.

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See! They look just like each other!

It’s true Ingram has a chance to be a monster in the NBA, but Ben Simmons has a chance to be a real Monstar. (That’s a Space Jam reference btw)

I mean yes, Ingram is a better scorer than Simmons in nearly every facet. Simmons probably has him beat as a slasher and in the paint, but in terms of shooting, isolation scoring, off-ball offense, it’s all Ingram.

And yes, Ingram has Simmons beat on defense as well. For now. Simmons’ athleticism and rebounding ability should change that in time. (DUDE GETS DEFENSIVE BOARDS LIKE A MAD MAN)

But outside of those two areas, Ben Simmons checks out every box. He can pass, rebound, and score at a high level. Anytime he steps on the court, he’s liable to record a triple double.

I knew he was pretty close to the real deal in LSU’s loss to NC State, their fifth game of the season, where Simmons was held to just four points, but still managed a double-double with 14 rebounds and 10 assists.

The man is 6’10, 240 lbs and can do things someone his size shouldn’t. He is a power forward with the skill set of a point guard. The guy can handle the ball as well as any guard prospect in this draft and his vision may be better than all of them. Seriously, it’s like Simmons has eyes on the back of his head and they’re wearing night vision goggles.

His ability to set up in the half court and push the pace would work very well in the Sixers all pace system. Plus, Brett Brown has Australian ties which are very much worth noting.

Simmons can realistically play anywhere from the 1-5 and maybe even some small ball 6; if you can consider a guy a few inches below 7’0 small. And he isn’t even tweener; HE’S JUST A MATCH UP NIGHTMARE.

THIS MAN IS ALMOST AS BIG AS KARL ANTHONY TOWNS! HE LOOKS EVEN BIGGER IN THIS PICTURE!!!

Im not sure if Ben Simmons will ever be the scorer Brandon Ingram is, but I doubt Ingram’s game will ever be as complete as Simmons’.

I never feel comfortable comparing prospects to LeBron because it happens too often and it’s almost never an apt comparison, but I think Simmon’s athleticism and play making ability are very reminiscent of the four time MVP.

Simmons isn’t a perfect prospect, but I feel the faults in his game are more nit picky than real short comings honestly.

His jump shot needs some work, which is a big reason why some Sixers fans are quick to call for Brandon Ingram instead, but it is very far from broken; it’s just untested. Get the guy in the gym taking a couple hundred shots a day and Im sure things will start to straighten out.

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Ben Simmons shot chart from LSU just makes his jump shot seems untested rather than broken.Lived for that high percentage shot though. Via Draft Express.

 

Then there’s the whole issue about his leadership and commitment, which honestly makes me laugh.

“Why didn’t LSU make it to the tournament, if Ben Simmons was so good why didn’t he play in March?”

Simple answer, LSU SUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCKED.

At the start of the NCAA season, it only took about two weeks for people to realize that Ben Simmons probably wasn’t going to be playing March basketball. Picking LSU was a bad choice by Simmons and I think he’d probably admit to it as well. It was almost as if LSU got Simmons and was like “K, this guy’ll win us a championship. Let’s take a load off and let the kid go to work.”

“How come his play started to taper off towards the end of the season? Was he ever even committed to that team?” 

Ben Simmons was an 18 year old who was projected to go in the top three of the draft from the moment he signed his letter of intent, how much pointless basketball do you think you’d be able to stomach before throwing in the towel and getting ready for the pros. I think this is a case of what I call Jadaveon Clowney disorder where a player slowly starts playing less than he’s able to because he’s got the draft on his mind and begins to become preoccupied. The kid had already realized his dream, it was only a matter of treading water until he could achieve it.

Simmons was also failing a lot of his classes at LSU, but I don’t think the guy’s dumb he was just preoccupied with bigger things.

Oh and then there’s the matter of the Ben Simmons documentary that was being filmed during the season. Can’t imagine that was a distraction whatsoever.

Still, I think Simmons’ end of the season play was a little overblown honestly. He scored 20 or more in six of his last 10 games and averaged a double-double in seven. These are the numbers that made him go from an elite prospect to just really good; go figure.

Brandon Ingram is a great scorer who could become one of the best in the NBA, but that’s all he’ll ever be; a scorer. You look at players like Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant who have had great careers but have always come up short in terms of chasing an NBA title. They are both great players in the own right, two of the best the NBA has to offer, but they can’t reach the top of the league on their own.

Ben Simmons on the other hand has a skill set that would allow him to be so much more, he is the type of player that will make all those around him better. Simmons is that type of player that ends up attracting Ingram types in free agency because he can compliment them so well.

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no homo but WILL YOU LOOK AT THIS MAN!

If you look back at the NBA finals a big reason the Cavaliers were able to come back from a 3-1 deficit was because of a heavy dose of LeBron James playing the point. It placed the ball in his hands at the start of each possession and just let him go HAM. The Sixers could do great things if they were to play Simmons in a similar role.

Ben Simmons is the reason we suffered through the Process. He is the type of rare, mouth watering talent that actually gives you championship hopes. The whole point of the Process was to go and get the next big thing, cost be damned. After three seasons of watching a once great franchise rot and get picked apart by vultures, that franchise cornerstone player falls into their lap and people want to pass on him because Ingram is the safer choice; SMH people, SMfreakinH.

It took 199 losses to get the Sixers where they are now, the time for playing it safe went out the window as soon as the Process started.

Taking Brandon Ingram would be drafting for need and in the realm of draft culture that is one of the biggest mortal sins. The Sixers are desperate for a legit three point threat and help on the wing, but they can’t pass up the best player on the board.

The Process was drafting three straight centers because they were the best player available and worrying about the consequences later. People point to this front court log jam as a reason for avoiding Simmons because he’s listed at the four, but just because he’s a big man doesn’t mean he’s actually a big man. I see Simmons as more of a position less player due to his versatility which opens even more doors in terms how you can build your team going forward.

Brandon Ingram may never be nothing more than a Jabari Parker type, while Simmons is more than likely going to be the most talented player on whatever team he goes to.

The Process is now officially dead, Sam Hinkie is gone, but Ben Simmons keeps their memory alive. He embodies everything the Process sought to achieve. He’s the player that could bring together all of the Sixers’ assets and actually make them into a team.

Wether he turns out to be a rich man’s Lamar Odom, a poor man’s LeBron James, or maybe even the second coming of Magic Johnson, all I know is anything else would be an insult to the Process itself.

Ben Simmons has the skill set where if you pass on him and his jump shot comes around people are gonna be out of a job. Bryan Colangelo has had a suspect start as the Sixers’ new GM, but his job will be so much easier if he just picks Ben Simmons.

And if you need anymore reason to be on #TeamSimmons, here are his Foot Locker commercials: 1 and 2

 

International Man of Mystery: Who is Dario Saric?

 

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With the season finally coming closer to it’s merciful end and games only getting harder to watch– say what you will about draft picks, but letting up 131 to the nets is a shot in the gut– it’s time to start looking a head to the offseason and all the excitement that it brings. One of the more exciting developments set to hit Philly this Summer is the much anticipated arrival of Dario Saric.

Since the moment Elfried Payton was traded from the Sixers for Dario and a 2017 first, the question has been, “Coooool… Now how long are we gonna have to wait for a return on this trade?” Well after two years of waiting, it seems as though we only have to sit on our hands for just a little bit longer. Although nothing concrete has been established, outside of Dario’s daddy giving the Sixers his blessing, head coach Brett Brown is confident Dario will be in a Sixers uniform next year.

As time goes on, it’s looking more and more like a sure thing Dario Saric will be a Sixer this time next year. The team has even sent player development assistant Chris Babcock over to Europe for eight days to personally train with Dario. The only thing standing in Dario’s way from coming to the Sixers is his contract with Anadolu Efes, but seeing how easily Nikola Mitotic got out of the final two years of his contract before coming over to the Bulls, Im not too worried about it.

Now that we can stop worrying about when Dario arrives, we can start to ponder what he might look like when he gets here. I’ve seen a lot of arguing over what Dario Saric could be as a player, some see him as the second coming of Dirk Nowitzki (you know because he’s european), some see him as a bust waiting to happen, I see him as neither of those things .

In my eyes, Dario Saric is a Jack of all trades, but like Aziz Ansari, he’s a master of none. He’s the kind of guy who can stuff the stat sheet, but doesn’t really have any “WOW” stats. He’s the kind of guy who can give you something along the lines of 13 points, 8 rebounds, and five assists a night.

In his time since being drafted by the Sixers, the part of Dario’s game he’s improved the most has been his 3P%. He’s always had a little bit of mid range game and was capable of knocking down the occasional open three, but he was never really good at creating his own shots and his 3P% dropped considerably when he had a man around him. Over the past two years, Dario has not only increased his number of three’s taken, he’s improved his overall clip by an impressive amount. 2013-2014, Dario took 13 three’s all season and converted them at a .308 clip, the next season he took 62 three’s but saw his percentage drop to .306. This season, shit has been considerably lit as Dario has converted .389 of his 54 three’s taken; he’s already surpassed his three point total from the previous season with four games still remaining. Dario is at his best as a pick and pop shooter or by having it dished to him in the corner; has also worked on improving his spot up jumper.

While Dario has indeed been making it rain over in Turkey, Im not entirely sure his three point percentage will carry over the NBA. I see the three point shot being lesson  a major part of his game and more along the lines of something he just has in his back pocket.

Even with his improved three, Dario still does the majority of his dirty work in the low post. He’s good with his back to the basket and uses shiftiness to get around his opponents. There isn’t much explosion to his game as he doesn’t play above the rim very often; get ready for a lot of layups people. He capable in the high post and can make some plays in the mid range, but Dario says eating in the post. As far as rebounding goes he’s solid, but not great. Sarin has short arms which really hurts his rebounding ability. His lack of sizes causes his game to suffer, but he gets by thanks to his high basketball IQ.

Dario Saric’s biggest value comes from his ability to play the point. He may not look it, but the man knows a thing or two about dishing out dimes. As a point forward, Saric has good vision and shows off better handles than you’d expect from a guy his size, he’s no Karl Anthony Towns, but he’s pretty good. Honestly though, the thought of KAT and Saric going at it in a skills competition does seem pretty entertaining.

Driving the paint and finding someone in the low post is Dario’s bread and butter. He is also good at finding open shooters on the wing. He has all around great court vision for a player of his size.

Dario has been playing pro ball in Europe since he was 16, you know, like when most people are in high school. He shows off his years of experience by the way he can command the offense, it makes up a lot for his athletic limitations.

He has worked on limiting his turnovers over the past few years, which was a little bit of a concern when he declared for the draft. Dario was coughing up the ball 3.1 times per game two seasons ago, he then improved that mark to 1.9, and then again to 1.6. Although that 0.3 change doesn’t seem like much, he has turned the ball over 20 fewer times than last season.

His assist number have dropped from 2.3 to 1.6 a game, but I think that may have to do with Saric spending more time in three point territory.

The glaring weakness of Dario Saric is his defensive ceiling, he doesn’t really have one. Although he’s capable of picking up the occasional block or steal, Saric is limited defensively. He lacks proper athleticism and size, and his short arms don’t help him much either. He can get pushed around at times when playing the low post, doesn’t have adequate size to set his feet and gain position. He also lacks quickness necessary to chase more athletic wings and can look uncomfortable trying to guard around the three point line.

The other major downside to Dario Saric is his lack of a definite position. He has played six games at center, ten at power forward, and another seven at small forward. His best number come when he’s playing power forward, he’s scoring 15.8 points per game and burying 56.82% of his shots. His worst numbers come when he’s playing small forward, scoring just 8.25 points on 42.55% shooting. Naturally, he’s at his worst lining up where the Sixers need him to play next season. Dario is very much a tweener, he has the size of a four, but weight of a 3. Some players can make the best out of their tweener size, like Draymond Green for example, while others can never really get their game together *cough* *cough* Anthony Bennet.

It’ll take some time to get better acclimated, but I think you’d get the most out of Saric at the three. In time, if he struggles with the speed of other players at the position, Im sure a move to stretch four could help him out. I think a few seasons in an NBA weight program could do a lot of good for Dario. I also think there is a lot of value in having a player capable of filling the stretch four role in the event that Joel Embiid is too broken for even foreign medicine to fix.

There’s still a lot of wait and see to Dario’s game, he still needs to add size, he has doesn’t have a definitive position yet, his game still needs a little bit of refining, and then there’s the whole contract he’s under with another team. I very much think Saric will be Stateside this Summer, now Im just curious about what his playing time might look like and what type of impact he’ll have on this team.

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Hot Sauce: Nik Stauskas is finally starting to heat up

usa-nik-stauskas-sixers-jazzWhen Nik Stauskas first arrived in Philadelphia, people were hype. The entire city gave out a group “IT’S LIT!” in perfect unison.

It seemed as though the Sixers had finally found the dead-eye, sharpshooter they had so sorely needed. They found a floor spacer to compliment their big man heavy offense. Sam Hinkie had pulled off a heist and stole this kid from the stupid, dumb, idiot Sacramento Kings; the Sixers had actually made an exciting move.

But that hype died pretty damn fast.

Nik Stauskas’ first few games in a Sixers’ uniform left a lot to be desired, the early returns on the trade were not too pretty. It took only a few games of Stauskas forcing shots and tossing up bricks for fans to give up on their expectations. Over the course of his first two months, Sauce shot .270 and .290 from three, he averaged 1.6 threes per game in November and only 0.9 in December, and had a seven game stretch where he went scoreless in six contests.

Sauce was playing completely mild, but luckily Ish Smith came along to help spice up his game. Since the Sixers went out and got the closest thing to a starting point guard, Stauskas’ game has been much improved, he’s been damn near caliente. In his first game playing alongside Ish, Sauce went 3-4 from three for 17 points, four rebounds, and two assists in what was easily on of his best games from this season.

As the season has worn on, Stauskas’ game has continued to improve. He’s improved his three point percentage to .409 in January and has been shooting .517 in February. Satuskas has managed to score double digit points in five of his last ten games, including a 17 point outing against the Hawks and a 16 point night against Kings. He’s scoring 15.3 points per 48 minutes on the season and 19.2 over the past month alone.

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Nik Stauskas’ 2015-2016 points per 36 minutes. Graphic by Josh Wilson.

It’s not just his offensive game that’s improving though, he is starting to become a much more capable defender; Stauskas cites this as the reason for his game’s overall improvement. He says putting a greater focus on defense means he’s thinking less about the offense and just letting it come to him. Sauce does seem to be getting more comfortable on the court, he’s been shooting fewer threes but making them at a higher clip; he’s learned to take smarter shots.

Nik Stauskas’ career has been filled with more bad than good, but he is still only a second year lottery pick, there is time for him to develop. The positives have been small, but they’re still promising, Sauce just needs to keep working on his three and hope the Sixers get legit starting point guard to compliment him. If everything goes right, I think Stauskas has the potential to be a lethal marksman; and at the very least a decent three point shot off the bench.

Oh, and here’s a video of Sauce naming rappers.

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Who’s Moving Out Of Center City: Nerlens, Jah, or Jojo?

Things are trending upwards in the world of Sixers basketball as of late. The team’s been winning more thanks in large part to a capable point guard, Ben Simmonds and Brandon Ingram are still tearing up the college ranks, but most importantly, we might finally be able to get excited about Joel Embiid again.

In a post practice interview two weeks ago, Brett Brown made it known that Joel Embiid is on his way. He isn’t gonna be here this season, but he’s definitely coming.

While Embiid hasn’t made any earth shattering improvements in his rehab, things have come along much smoother than they were a year ago. Brown says that the team feels he’s headed in the right direction; he’s getting better both physically and mentally, now it’s just a matter of playing the waiting game.

With Jojo’s good news comes an annoying question that the Sixers’ faithful haven’t had to ask themselves since Jahlil Okafor was drafted: Who’s out?

This isn’t an easy question to answer. While each player has a great deal of positives, they also carry their fair share of negatives. Nerlans Noel has once-in-a-generation defensive talent, but loses all offensive ability the farther away from the basket he plays.

Jahlil Okafor has post moves that could make grown man’s knees buckle, but he leaves a lot to be desired athletically and offers very little in terms of rim protection.

Joel Embiid can defend as well as Noel, score as well as Okafor, and can stretch the floor better than either of the two, but the guy literally doesn’t have a leg to stand on, or rather I should say foot.

Oh, and then there’s the huge issue of if these guys can even play together.

The Noel-Okafor (or Nokafor) pairing was abysmal to start the season, but has seen incremental improve with Ish Smith at the helm; Im really starting to have my doubts about this duo though. These are two players that being forced into an uncomfortable situation, its like you’re trying to fit two circle blocks through a round and square hole, one will fit great, while the other is just being forced. When Okafor is on the court by himself, the offense preforms better, but I use the word “better” very loosely. When Nerlens is on the court by himself, the Sixers’ defense is actually kind of respectable. But when the two play together, meh.

The problem is that both these guys belong under the net, but both can’t play there. Nerlens relies on a diet of pick and roll passes and lobs, while Okafor lives on post moves and fade aways. These playing styles just kind of get in the way of each other when you play them at the same time.

Noel has no three point presence, so playing him on the wing means a defender can just stay home and preoccupy themselves with Jah rather than focusing on the nonthreatening Nerlens. Joel offers some remedy for this however with his ability to street the floor, that would give Jah or Noel the opportunity to stay in the paint.

When considering which of these three will leave, it really boils down to either Jah or Nerlens. Joel Embiid, despite all his injuries and shortcomings, still has a ceiling so high it’s nearly astronomical (THE DUDE HAS GROWN TWO INCHES SINCE BEING DRAFTED). He has to be the guy you choose to build around.

In a perfect world we could just say, trade Nerlens, keep Jah, and win an NBA Championship, but sadly, this is not the same big man driven league it use to be.

While Joel and Okafor may offer you the best return offensively, I can already imagine all the Tim Duncan-David Robinson comparisons, I still have my concerns about this pairing though. My biggest concern being the strain chasing stretch fours around could have on Joel Embiid’s foot. The guy played center in college and finished his lone season riddled with injuries, I worry about him making the switch to a position that would require a 7’2 near 250 pounder to chase around the likes of Paul Millsap and what that might do to his newly bone grafted foot.

My worries about Embiid’s foot are the main reason I wouldn’t be against keeping Noel around instead of Jah. With Noel around you would have the option to stick him on more athletic fours, leaving Jojo to go to work underneath the net which would hopefully put less strain on his foot. Offensively, you’d be a little more limited due to Nerlens lack of skill, but I think a shutdown defense would make up the difference.

From a return standpoint, Jahlil might be able to fetch you the most in a trade. The third selection from June’s draft lacks the injury history of Embiid, has much fewer holes in his game than Nerlens, and quite honestly, might want to be here the least.

Jah could very easily net the Sixers an early draft pick, a high upside lottery player, or an established star. The Sixers have already been offered Marcus Smart for Nerlens Noel, so we know what he’s worth. Embiid is a much more curious case; I really think his value depends on who you talk to. He probably would of been worth the first pick in the draft last year, but Im not so sure his value is still that high.

There are too many unknowns to really start planning out trade scenarios though, Noakfor are still getting better together, Dario Saric’s arrival still looms, Joel Embiid’s health is still a huge question mark, and then there’s the bigger issue of if these players just need a little more help around them.

I think the most frustrating part about all of this is the fact all these players are extremely young and could very well grow into completely different players within the next two years. They have very high ceilings and could make major changes to their game.

I think the Sixers best course of action is to hold onto these three players until they know for sure what they have. A trade is more than likely in the Sixers future, but I’d give it a year to see how healthy Joel Embiid really is and who plays better along side him, Jah or Nerlans.

Trust the Process: The Sixers can’t suck forever

On this, the eve of the second game of Jahlil Okafor’s two game suspension, it seemed as good a time as ever to discuss one of the most hotly debated topics in the city of Philadelphia: #TheProcess

Ah yes, the process, it’s practically become a punchline in and of itself.

The idea of the Sixers purposely losing in order to get higher draft picks seemed great at first, everyone was more than happy to comply with Sam Hinkie’s hair brained scheme. But here we are, in the process’ third season and everyone’s starting to get cold feet.

Things haven’t gone the way the fans had envisioned at all. I think back to draft night two years ago, sitting in a Buffalo Wild Wings with some friends and watching the Sixers select Joel Embiid. Seeing the Sixers get such a transcendent talent made us think we’d be out of the cellar in no time. We figured, another top draft pick and a couple free agent investments and this team would be in fighting shape in no time. We thought, in two years the Sixers would be competing with the best in the league. But nope, this team is still a joke.

 

Just because this team is worse more than anyone expected doesn’t mean the process hasn’t gone as Sam Hinkie envisioned. This was never meant to be a quick rebuild, Sam Hinkie’s plan has always been a seven year one. This team won’t be competitive on the court or in free agency until the year 2019.

This realization of how grand Sam Hinkie’s plan is has soured a lot of fans on the whole tanking philosophy. But not me. Naw, Im too busy watching Fury, while reading scouting reports on Ben Simmonds and Jamal Murray.

Seriously, all it took was breaking a little losing streak record and everyone was ready to give up on the process. All those Washington Generals comparison start to come true and all of a sudden everyone is over tanking. smh.

This city was over joyed at the sight of the Sixers earning their first win, but was I the only one who wanted to see them let up another fourth quarter lead?

People complain about how the Sixers have yet to come away with the number one pick, but really that all just goes to show how much of a crap shoot the NBA draft is. It’s a combination of suck and luck and the Sixers are trying to break the system by winning with the former rather than the latter. An 0-18 start might of been a little bit much, but whatever gets the job done.

The process works best when the Sixers are the absolute worst team in the NBA like they should be, but teams like the Timberwolves and the Knicks keep complicating things. Seeing the Knicks and Timberwolves actually develop, while the Sixers still learn how to play basketball does have me a little giddy about their draft prospects. In my eyes, 0-82 is more than worth it if it means you have a chance to draft the next Michael Jordan.

To me, the absolute worst state a team can be in is mediocrity. It means you’re not really good, but you’re not really bad, you’re just there. Mediocrity is just floating around, waiting for something better to come along. Mediocrity is a life of 7-8 playoff seeds and a lot of draft picks in the mid teens and that’s exactly where the 76ers were before Sam Hinkie arrived. Before Hinkie, the Sixers top need was to just get a superstar to lead this team. They tried to trade for one, but we all know how that 7’0 disaster turned out.

Yes, the process is ugly, like uglier than Tara Reid without any makeup, but it’s the safest bet for getting your hands on an actual superstar or something close. And hell, for all we know, the Sixers might already have one.

Fans also seem to have beef with the players the Sixers are taking and how they’re being handled, and to that I say, let the wizard work his magic. I have absolute trust in the players Sam Hinkie is going after. Sure, Kristaps Porzingis has been phenomenal for the Knicks, but you really think he’d be putting up those types of numbers in this city? I think Carmelo might just be spacing the floor a little bit better than someone like Nik Stauskas does. I am perfectly fine with settling for Jahlil Okafor.

Honestly, Im scared to know how this city would react right now had the Sixers ended up with D’Angelo Russell instead of Okafor.

Sam Hinkie has also overdrafted at certain positions, pretty badly I might add, but that’s what the process is, it’s taking the best player available and worrying about positions later because every player is a commodity and every player can get you some type of return.

When the Sixers first drafted Elfried Peyton, everyone was in an uproar about the prospect of trading then rookie of the year Micael Carter Williams. A little over a year later, both players have been turned into a top five pick and one of the best players in Europe right now and no one seems all that up set. Well the Bucks do, but that’s besides the point.

Sam Hinkie is the man responsible for bringing James Harden and Dwight Howard to the Rockets. I trust this dude because I know how hard it is to get a superstar and he managed to bring two to the same team.

The Clippers were the laughing stock of the NBA before Blake Griffin showed up and the Super Sonics were solid overnight before Kevin Durant could become a perennial MVP candidate. Both these teams were jokes before they drafted top tier talent, now they’re both two of the top teams in the west.

This is the superstar’s league, you won’t be able to survive in it unless you have some of the league’s very best. I don’t care how long it takes, how many wasted seasons pass by, or how many stockpiled resources have to be traded, this team needs to get a superstar by any means possible. This is the process of acquiring superstars, it may not be pretty, but in the end it’s always worth it.

And I’ll also say this about the Sixers, every professional sports team in this city may suck right now, but at least they’re the ones doing it on purpose.

 

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