Would Buddy Hield put the Sixers over the top?

By Kevin McCormick, Sports Talk Philly Editor

Buddy Hield has been a name tied to the Sixers for months now. It seems like with the way that it has been talked about that the move is inevitable. With that being said, it begs the question if adding a guy like Hield puts the Sixers in the mix to be a serious favorite to win an NBA championship. 

I would say that answer is yes. Hield would fit on the Sixers like a glove and is the perfect kind of guard to pair with Ben Simmons in the backcourt. Not to mention off the court fits that would make him a great addition to the Sixers. 

Before the season came to a screeching halt Hield was averaging 19.8 PPG, 4.8 RPG, and 3.1 APG. On top of that he was second in the league in three-pointers made with 244, and was shooting 39.5% on 9.7 attempts a game. 

Hield is a perfect fit for the Sixers on those numbers alone. Lack of three-point shooting was the Achilles heel of the Sixers and Hield gives you that in bunches. This season Hield played in 64 games and hit at least five three-pointers in 23 of them. Including one game where he erupted for 11 makes from deep. 

Having a guy on the floor like Hield would benefit Ben Simmons greatly. As we know his reluctance to shoot the ball from deep has been a major storyline surrounding the Sixers. But having a shooter like Hield on the floor who shoots at the volume he does will help make Simmons’ weaker part of his game less apparent. 

He compliments the team’s other cornerstone as well. Floor spacing was nothing short of a mess this season which limited Joel Embiid’s game on the offensive side of the ball. Swapping out Al Horford and adding Buddy Hield would open the floor greatly for Embiid. It would also give Embiid a knockdown shooter to kick the ball out to when defenses collapse on him in the post. 

We saw the connection that Embiid and JJ Redick had during Redick’s tenure in Philadelphia. Hield could be the same kind of player for the Sixers but better. The dribble hand-off between Hield and Embiid could be lethal with Hield’s ability to attack the rim as well as shoot the lights out from deep.  

Character is another thing that would make Hield a great addition to the team. Before the season being suspended Hield had recently transitioned from being a starter for the Kings to become the sixth man. This is something that seems rather small, but it says a lot about the kind of guy Hield is. 

This move showed that he is willing to make sacrifices to help his team. Having a guy like that in the locker is always great. It shows that he is hungry and wants to win, but is also willing to make changes or sacrifices to get there. 

As Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid are approaching their prime seasons the organization must put the proper pieces around them to maximize their potential. Hield checks a lot of boxes of the kind of player to pair with the All-Star duo. 

It is not going to be easy convincing a team to take on Al Horford and his remaining contract. But if Elton Brand can ship him to Sacramento in return for Hield it is certainly a move that would open the Sixers’ championship window even more. 

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Sixers can return to training facility as New Jersey lightens restrictions

By Kevin McCormick, Sports Talk Philly Editor

It may never have been said before, but the Sixers are lucky that they opted to have their training facility in Camden New Jersey. Earlier today the governor of New Jersey lifted the ban on professional sports in the state. 

As of now teams are now allowed back in their training facility, which is big news for the Sixers. Now the team can get back to work as they get ready on a possible return to NBA action. 

This ban could now have come at a better time. The Sixers were one of the last few remaining teams to have their training facilities reopened, but that is now no longer an issue. 

Although nothing is set in stone, it seems that we are very close to a return plan for the NBA season. The Sixers are slightly behind the eight ball being one of the last teams to have their facility reopened, but now its time to get back to work to be ready to compete for an NBA championship when the return plan is confirmed. 

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Draft profile: Kentucky's Immanuel Quickley

By Kevin McCormick, Sports Talk Philly Editor

Next up in my draft profile series is someone who will most likely be a target in the second round instead of the first. That player is Kentucky guard Immanuel Quickley. 

Quickley is a sharpshooting guard who burst onto the scene in his second season at Kentucky. As a sophomore he tripled his scoring and rebounding numbers, and almost increased his three-point percentage ten points from when he was a freshman. 

This year Quickley averaged 16.1 PPG, 4.2 RPG, and 1.9 APG. On top of that 42.8% from deep on just under five attempts a game. 

There is a lot to like about his game. His shot is smooth from deep, he is great at moving around the floor without the ball, and he has a nice enough handle to put the ball on the floor when teams have chased him off the three-point line. 

Quickley has no problem getting his shot off in any kind of situation. He is most lethal when he is catching and shooting but also can get his shot off the dribble when needed. 

The biggest weakness of Quickley would have to be his size. Currently he sits at six foot three and weighs 188 pounds. He would be considered undersized coming in, but at soon to be 21 years old he could still grow and will put on weight when he has the availability of an NBA training staff.  

Immanuel Quickley is a name the Sixers should have underlined, circled, and highlighted on their draft board. His fit on the Sixers’ roster is almost perfect. He is the exact kind of player that the team needs to be putting around Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. 

We saw in recent years how well JJ Redick thrived in the Sixers’ system and was able to have some of the best scoring seasons of his entire career. Now imagine getting a 21-year-old player who can play just like him and still has the potential to grow his game more, that is what they could be getting in drafting Quickley. 

He could be a guy that is flying down the wings with Ben Simmons and hitting threes in transition, and he could also be a guy that Joel Embiid could kick the ball out to when he is double teamed in the post. 

Shooting is an area that the Sixers need to improve badly. To lock a guy up like Quickley on a rookie deal would be a steal for them as they have little cap room to work with moving forward. Hopefully, the Sixers do the right thing and address their biggest issue in this draft. 

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Fantasy offseason: Swapping Al Horford for a verteran guard

By Kevin McCormick, Sports Talk Philly Editor

Continuing the trend of the Sixers of rearranging the core pieces of this team it seems like there is a good chance that we see an Al Horford trade this summer. The experiment of going big did not go as well as planned and the roster could use some reconfiguration. 

It is going to be tough to find a suitor to take on Horford’s contract, but Elton Brand should be able to get something of value in return. Could the Sixers make the most of a bad situation and add a solid piece to the Sixers? 

Things got heated between Jazz stars Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert after both contracted the coronavirus. Although reports said that their relationship has healed since this issue, could the team still look to move one of its main pieces? 

Along with that, if they move Gobert would they be open to moving another key piece? This is where the Sixers come in. If the Jazz decides to move on from Gobert the Sixers could try a possible move that would send Horford to Utah in return for Mike Conley.

Conley posted 13.8 PPG, 3.2 RPG, and 4.3 APG in this shortened season with the Jazz. Although he found his footing, some questioned his fit on the Jazz next to Mitchell. Pairing Horford with Mitchell might interest the Jazz because it gives him a big who can pick and pop with him along with spacing the floor to give him more room to attack the rim.  

He would be a good fit in the Sixers lineup for multiple reasons. For starters, Conely shot 37.6% from three this year on 5.2 attempts per game. He would also add another ball handler who can run the offense when Ben Simmons is off the floor. 

Shot creation is something that this Sixers team lacked that Conley could bring as well. He has no problem creating his own shots off the dribble or going off the ball and being a spot-up shooter, his fit with the starters would be seamless. 

Conley spent his best years alongside Marc Gasol in Memphis so working with a dominant big man is something that isn’t new to him. He could run a similar game with Joel Embiid and help Embiid maximize his game on offense. 

Another thing that he would be bringing with him is playoff experience. Throughout his career, Conley has played in 56 playoff games. The pressure of the playoffs has not seemed to affect him as his career playoff numbers outdo his career regular-season numbers. 

In playoff action, Conley is averaging 16.5 PPG, 3.7 RPG, and 6.7 APG. He could be a viable option to go when the team needs a bucket late in games. Not to mention help be a locker room leader and bring his past experiences to help this team succeed when it matters most. 

The last benefit of acquiring Conley is that he provides flexibility moving forward. His contract is set to end at the end of the 2020-2021 season. Although he is due max contract money, it will only be for one season. 

This leaves options open for the Sixers. If he is beneficial to the Sixers in his one year then they could re-sign him to a more appropriate deal and if it doesn't work out then he can walk in free agency and the Sixers will have cap flexibility in a big free-agent summer. 

Acquiring Conley for Horford might be one of the better situations to get out of his contract. Bringing on a veteran like Conley brings more positives than negatives, and is a calculated risk that could potentially pay off. 

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Former Sixers coach weighs in on Simmons and Embiid

By Kevin McCormick, Sports Talk Philly Editor

Earlier this week former Sixers’ coach Larry Brown joined Danny Pommells and Paul Hudrick on NBC Sports Philadelphia’s “Sixers Talk” podcast. Brown coached the Sixers from 1997 to 2003. 

In the episode, they covered multiple topics from the Michael Jordan documentary currently airing, Kobe Bryant, and Allen Iverson. After diving into the past they spent some time talking about the present, and Brown had some interesting things to say about Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. 

Brown discussed Ben Simmons first. After saying that he doesn’t enjoy the way the game is played today he said he doesn’t see why Ben Simmons not shooting three-pointers is an issue. He then went on to say that Simmons is “just as good as any player in the league” and brought up all the other things that Simmons does to affect a game.   

Next, he dove into Joel Embiid and he proceeded to give the All-Star center high praise. He started by bringing up that he tried to recruit Embiid to play college at SMU where he was coaching before Embiid decided to go play for Kansas. 

Brown then went on to say that he feels that Embiid is the best big man in the league, but he would like to see a change in his game. He said he would like to see Embiid in the post more and dominate from the post and protect the paint on defense. 

He finished off talking about the two by saying that Embiid could learn a lot from the Michael Jordan documentary and his idol Kobe Bryant. Brown feels that Embiid has a lot of God-given ability and if he works hard on perfecting his craft he could be one of the most dominant players in the league right now. 

Brown gave some interesting points on the team's stars that should hold some weight. There is no doubt that Joel Embiid has the potential to be the most dominant big man in the league right now if he continues to work on his body and his game. But to say that Ben Simmons does not need to shoot the ball is a stretch. Simmons' reluctance to shoot has arguably been blown out of proportion, but in today's game if Simmons is to reach his full potential he is going to need to develop a three-point shot. 

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Draft profile: Louisville's Jordan Nwora

By Kevin McCormick, Sports Talk Philly Editor

Next up in my draft profile series is Louisville forward Jordan Nwora. He is an athletic wing player who is coming off a season where he averaged 18.0 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 1.3 APG. He took the road less traveled staying multiple years in college, but it was the right decision. 

Nwora’s game has grown greatly since his freshman year of college where he only averaged just under six points per game. In his time at Louisville, he was also named All-ACC on two separate occasions and was named the ACC Most Improved Player in his sophomore season. 

There is a lot about Nwora that makes him an interesting prospect. For starters, standing at 6’7 225 pounds his body is ready for the NBA. He also moves well for his size which gives him the potential to become a solid player who can play on both ends of the ball. 

In terms of the Sixers, Nwora would be a great fit on the roster. Most importantly because he is the perfect kind of shooter for this team. 

In his final season at Louisville, he shot 40.2% from deep on 6.1 attempts a game. His shot is best in catch and shoot and spot-up situations, making him the perfect fit alongside the Sixers’ two stars. 

Nwora could be a guy that Joel Embiid could swing the ball to out of a double team, and could also be a got to spot up and shoot when Ben Simmons is attacking the rim. Three-point shooting is a key point that the Sixers need to address, so adding a guy like Nwora in the draft would be a good get. 

On top of being a good shooter from deep, Nwora is also a super-athletic forward. He showed in his time in college that he is just as comfortable playing above the rim as he is letting it fly from deep. 

These days players who stick around for multiple years in college are looked down on, but it could be looked at as a positive for the Sixers. 

We saw last year how well Matisse Thybulle played for the Sixers after being a four-year guy in college. Nwora will be 22 by the time the 2020-2021 season starts, putting him in the same age window as the team’s key pieces.

Drafting an older player will also help with the maturity aspect of the team. The Sixers feel that their window to win a title is now, so targeting players who have matured physically and mentally is something the team should focus on as they look to contend. 

Nwora checks a lot of boxes for the Sixers and should be one of the names they look to target come draft night. He fits the mold of building a big lineup, is a knockdown shooter, and can run the floor and get up. 

Between Furkan Korkmaz, Matisse Thybulle, Mariol Shayok in small samples, and possibly Jordan Nwora the Sixers could have a bench full of length and shooting to help space the floor for their two superstars. 

If Nwora is still on the board when it comes time for the Sixers to make their pick, they should seriously consider drafting him.   

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Sixers select Nico Mannion in latest mock draft

By Kevin McCormick, Sports Talk Philly Editor

In the latest installment of Bleacher Report’s NBA mock draft, there was a new name being selected by the Sixers. This time around it has the Sixers drafting Arizona freshman Nico Mannion with the 22nd pick in the draft. 

Mannion is a point guard who averaged 14.0 PPG, 2.5 RPG, and 5.3 APG in his sole year at Arizona. His numbers landed him on the All-Pac-12 Team and the Pac-12 All-Freshman Team. 

This is an interesting pick for the Sixers. Mannion has positives about his game, but he might be a project that would have to start his career in the G-League to polish his game. 

One strong part of Mannion’s game is his ability to facilitate. He is a willing passer and can get the players around good looks. He could be a guy to come in and keep the ball moving and the offense in rhythm when Ben Simmons is off the floor. 

Some other strong parts of his game include being a strong ball-handler, having good touch around the rim, and can create his own shots in small samples. 

The first question mark about his game is his size. Right now Mannion is 6’3 and 190 pounds, at that size it is going to be hard for him to have the same success around the rim that he had in college. Putting on muscle has to be at the top of his list as he makes his transition to the NBA.

Another part of his game that needs work is his shooting. This is crucial if he is going to find a role on the Sixers, who need outside shooting. In his one season of college, he shot 32.7% from deep on just over five attempts a game. 

This problem could potentially be an easy fix. Mannion already has a nice shooting stroke, it is just the consistency that is an issue. Between work with NBA coaching staff and defenses focusing less on him, he might be able to up his percentage naturally. 

Personally, if the Sixers do draft Mannion this year I could see him taking the same kind of route we saw with Mariol Shayok. Spend most of the year in the G-League to develop more and then come up and see what he can do with the Sixers in small samples in year one. 

Drafting a player that might be a project while the window is open is a little questionable to me personally. But best case scenario if he develops properly Mannion could be a cheap backup point guard who could also be used as a floor spacer for the Sixers moving forward. 

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Ben Simmons' case for Defensive Player of the Year

By Kevin McCormick, Sports Talk Philly Editor

Ben Simmons showed a major improvement in one part of his game this year. He stepped up his skill on the defensive side of the ball and showed that he is arguably one of the best defenders in the NBA right now. 

Simmons was at the top of multiple defensive categories this season which begs the question, should he be in the running for Defensive Player of the Year? I believe that he has a very strong case to be a finalist for the award. 

This award has not been favorable to players at his position. Over the last 10 years, a center has walked away with the honors seven times. A backcourt player hasn’t been named for the award since the 1995-1996 season when Gary Payton won it with the SuperSonics.

Times are changing in the NBA and so should the standards for how season awards should be valued. Handing the award to the best rim-protecting center should be a thing of the past. 

Ben Simmons 2019-2020 defensive statistics 

  • First in total steals (115)
  • First in steals per game (2.1)
  • Second in total deflections (216)
  • Third in deflections per game (4.0)
  • 106.9 defensive rating 

The numbers don’t lie, Simmons was one of the best perimeter defenders this season. With shooting and perimeter play being the focus of NBA offenses now should shift the criteria of the award to the best perimeter defenders. 

Another reason why Simmons should be in the running for this award is versatility. Ben Simmons stands at 6’10 and has the athleticism to match up against any player in the league when needed. 

Top caliber teams have always had that player that prides themselves and defending the opposing team’s best player on a nightly basis. Ben Simmons is that guy for the Sixers, and he can do it at all five positions. 

He proved that this year shutting down multiple All-Star caliber players when matching up against them. 

At his size, there are no real weak points to his games defensively. He can switch off on big men, can lock down wing players, and can defend quicker guards who are much smaller than him. 

Ben Simmons built up a very good resume to be in the running for the Defensive Player of the Year award this year. Along with being a lock to be a finalist, he should have a real chance to walk away with the award this season. 

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How A Delayed Postseason Saved the Sixers

By Kevin McCormick, Sports Talk Philly Editor

We are all still awaiting how the NBA will go about resuming its play once this pandemic is over. Although there is still nothing close to a timetable on when sports can resume again, it seems like we might get NBA playoffs at some point during this summer. 

Reports have come out that the draft lottery and combined have been pushed back to no surprise. There was also a report that came out stating that the 2020-2021 season may not begin until December. 

Delaying the start of next season gives me the impression that the league is aiming to crown a champion for this season. Although this suspended season has been far from fun, it was a saving grace for the Sixers. 

The biggest reason it saved the Sixers is health. As we know when play was still going on the injury bug had taken a big toll on the Sixers. Ben Simmons had an injured back with no timetable of return and Joel Embiid had just returned to the lineup after missing five games. 

This delay in the season has now given both stars the time to rehab and recover in peace without the pressure of returning to the court as fast as possible. Having them both fully healthy to kick off the playoffs (if they happen) makes this team much more dangerous. 

The other reason why it should be looked at as saving grace is that this team has been handed something that has never happened before, a clean slate heading into the playoffs. 

For the first time when the playoffs start, it is going to feel like day one for every team. Fatigue and nagging injuries will be a nonissue as players have had months to recover, and teams will all be knocking the rust off as they try to pull it together to be the champion of this crazy season. 

Expectations were set very high on the Sixers heading into the start of this regular season. Sadly, most would agree that the team did not come close to the expectations that were thrown upon them back in October. But the most beautiful part of it all, none of it matters now. 

The Sixers can take all the mishaps of this short regular season and put it all behind them. They can head into the playoffs and treat it as day one of a new beginning. 

Brett Brown and company can look at the regular season as a trial run and a base for what worked and what didn’t. Along with having two months (and maybe more) to come up with solutions to maximize the talent on this roster to compete for a title. 

The Sixers now don’t have to go into the playoffs hearing all the negativity from the media about their record or seeding as the playoffs are going to be basically day one of a new mini-season. 

This roster still has more than enough talent to go and chase a title. It is still going to be an uphill battle if they find themselves stuck at the sixth seed, but this delayed postseason could save what some people were calling a lost season. 

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Should The Sixers Call About Zach LaVine?

By Kevin McCormick, Sports Talk Philly Editor

Although the NBA has still not decided on what to do with the rest of this season does not mean it’s too early to look into the offseason. Whether this Sixers’ core gets the chance to show what they can do in the postseason or not, the roster could use some tweaking. 

The Al Horford experiment did not pan out the way that the team had hoped, so finding a suitable trade partner for him and his large contract should be at the top of the offseason to-do list. 

One name that has been thrown around for the Sixers to target is Sacramento Kings guard Buddy Hield, but I would like to throw another name out there. That is Chicago Bulls star Zach LaVine. 

The Bulls have not been able to break out of the bottom tier of the NBA and could potentially look to move on from their star. Chicago has only won 22 games each of the last two seasons and might be looking to move forward and build around young point guard Colby White, who showed a lot of promise leading up to the suspension of the season.

LaVine had a career year with the Bulls this season and was arguably a snub for the All-Star game. He averaged 25.5 PPG (career-high), 4.8 RPG, 4.2 APG, and 1.5 SPG. On top of that, he also shot 38% from deep on a career-high 8.1 attempts a game. 

His fit on the Sixers would be almost seamless. LaVine is the kind of player that compliments both Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, and at 6’6 he fits the big defensive identity that this team is looking to build. 

Pairing Zach LaVine with Ben Simmons is something that puts fans in seats. The two would easily be the most athletic backcourt in the NBA, along with one of the best defensive ones as the two combined for close to four steals a game this season. Seeing Simmons and LaVine throw down together in the open court would be an awesome sight to see. 

LaVine is also the perfect kind of guard to put around Joel Embiid. He is a guy that could catch and shoot when defenses collapse on Embiid in the paint and is a guy that could come off screens around the arc and knock down shots when needed. 

We saw in the past how well the Embiid/Redick dribble hand-off worked for the Sixers in the past. That is a play they could recreate with LaVine who would also have the ability to attack the rim.  

There is a little bit of risk when bringing in LaVine. Although he has recovered nicely from it, there is no forgetting that he is just three years removed from tearing his ACL as a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves. The injury has not seemed to affect him much since returning but a scary injury like that is something that will always loom over a player.  

Some external things that also make LaVine a good fit for the Sixers is his age and his contract. He is signed through the 2021-2022 season so he would be around while this team feels its championship window is open. Not to mention at 25 years old that LaVine is in the perfect age gap with Embiid, Simmons, and Tobias Harris. 

The final reason why the Sixers should call about the young star, LaVine indirectly brought up wanting to play with a team like the Sixers earlier this year. 

 

During All-Star weekend LaVine was a guest on ESPN’s First Take as the representative of the hosting city Chicago. They started off talking about LaVine’s past dunk contest performances and his decision to compete in the three point contest this year, then things got interesting. 

Max Kellerman went on to ask LaVine about what players he would want to play with and then what kind of players he wants to play with. He then went on to drop two interesting quotes. 

LaVine went on to say that he wants to play with a “point guard you can get up and down the floor and pass the ball” and then went on to say “playing with a dominant big man is great too.” 

Based on those quotes it seems like LaVine would love the idea of playing in Philadelphia. He basically came out and said that he wants to play with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. 

Trading for a guy like Zach LaVine is going to be no small task. Chicago is going to have a steep price for their star player. But making the call to see what it would take to add a guy like him could completely shift the direction of the franchise for the foreseeable future. 

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