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2014 NBA Draft Preview: Philadelphia 76ers


Picks: 3. 10, 32, 39, 47, 52, 54

Needs: The rebuild began in earnest in Philadelphia a season ago, and as long as you’re not into winning, things got off to a fantastic start. Michael Carter-Williams took home Rookie of the Year honors, while the player selected five spots earlier in the 2013 draft, Nerlens Noel, sat out the entire year — primarily due to injury, though he may have been healthy enough to play near the end of the season.

For a team that endured a 26-game losing streak before it was eventually snapped, however, rushing players back to seek additional wins wasn’t in the plans.

With two lottery picks already on the roster, the Sixers need to add more complementary talent to begin to build a team capable of developing into a successful ongoing concern. With the third overall pick, there will be guys there capable of potentially becoming building blocks for the future. It gets more murky further down the draft board, of course, but that’s where scouting comes into play, and for a team essentially starting from scratch, player development and front office stability will be what’s most important in turning the franchise around.

Trade possibilities: The Sixers appear to have locked in on Andrew Wiggins, especially given the way they behaved when they had him in for a pre-draft workout this week. There are plenty of mock drafts that have him still available at three, with Joel Embiid and Jabari Parker being selected with the first two picks. But Philadelphia may not want to take any chances, so it has been engaged with Cleveland in discussions about trying to trade for the number one pick.

The Sixers haven’t been willing to part with picks 3 and 10 to make that happen, however, and that’s probably a wise choice, given both the probability that Wiggins will still be there, along with the fact that guys like Parker or Embiid would be available by default if Wiggins were already gone. Philadelphia might give up the three and Thaddeus Young in a deal, which would rid the team of its last capable veteran who also happens to be the highest paid player on the roster.

Predictions: Even the Sixers, who embraced rebuilding to the point of absurdity last season, wouldn’t use all of their picks with the intent of adding seven rookies to the mix for next season. The ones in the later rounds will either be European prospects who can be stashed for the future, or players who will be glorified training camp invites that will have to prove themselves in order to be signed for next season.

If a trade agreement can’t be reached with the Cavaliers, Wiggins might still be the one the Sixers end up with, and that appears to be their wish. In the event that he’s off the board, however, ending up with Embiid, Parker, or even someone like Dante Exum wouldn’t appear to be a bad consolation prize.

PBT Extra bold prediction previews: Can Thunder win 60 games?

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Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Serge Ibaka are healthy — just how good will the Thunder be?

The bold prediction in this PBT Extra preview with Jenna Corrado is that the Thunder will win 60 games, something they have not yet done. I wouldn’t bet on them hitting that number — with a new coach, and them making sure Durant and Westbrook get rest coming off injuries, plus the fact they’re in the deep West, that number may be high.

I think they have a better chance to come out of the West than win 60 games. I think they have a good shot to come out of the West.

Gallinari ready to take big role in new Nuggets offense

Danilo Gallinari, Jimmy Butler
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DENVER (AP) — Danilo Gallinari wants everyone to know this: His surgically repaired left knee, the one that took three procedures to fix and nearly two seasons to fully trust, no longer bothers him.

The Denver Nuggets forward doesn’t need to be on any sort of minutes restriction. He doesn’t need days off during the season. And he certainly doesn’t need to be coddled.

He’s Gallo again, the hard-to-guard Italian playmaker who can knock down the 3-pointer just as easily as drive to the hoop or even post up. He believes he will fit in quite nicely into new coach Michael Malone’s system.

“The thing I’m focused on is trying to get (this team) back to the same level that the Nuggets were when I got to Denver, when we were going to the playoffs easy. When we were clinching a playoff one or two weeks before the season was over,” said Gallinari, who was acquired in the 2011 blockbuster deal that sent Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks. “We need to get back to that level.”

Almost seems so long ago, given that the Nuggets have missed the playoffs two straight seasons after consistently making it for nearly a decade.

Gallinari returned last season for the first time since blowing out his knee in a game on April 4, 2013. His minutes were closely monitored early in the season. He never really got completely on track until late last season, when he averaged 20.5 points over the final 10 contests, including a career-high 47 against Dallas. He’s hoping to carry that kind of confidence this season.

“I’m good to go. I was good to go as soon as the beginning of last year,” Gallinari said. “I was not on the same page with the coach that we had.”

That would be Brian Shaw, who was fired last March after 1 1/2 seasons in charge and going 56-85. Exactly why he wasn’t on the same page with Shaw, well, Gallinari preferred the past remain the past.

“I’m ready to play the new season,” he said. “We need to win games, and get back to the same level we were before.”

Gallinari thinks the Nuggets have the personnel to do just that, especially with a rookie point guard in Emmanuel Mudiay and Gallinari’s knee feeling better than it has in a while. He feels like he has some ground to make up, too, since he said that knee robbed him of some of his prime.

“Playing my best basketball right before I got injured,” the 27-year old said. “Now, we’re back to the same level, hopefully better.

“My knee has been feeling great. It felt great last year. Feeling great during the summer. Feeling great now. I just feel good.”

He spent the summer playing for the Italian team at the EuroBasket tournament, where he averaged nearly 18 points a game. In those games, Gallinari saw quite a bit of time at the four spot on the floor, forcing teams to either use a bulkier big man to cover him and risk getting burned on a drive or a smaller player that Gallinari could simply shoot over.

Malone plans to employ a similar type approach, something they discussed over gelato when the coach visited Gallinari in Italy soon after he was hired.

“He’s 6-foot-10. He can handle the ball. He can play pick-and-roll. He can stretch the floor and shoot the 3,” Malone said. “There’s not a lot he can’t do offensively.”

Gallinari wants the responsibility of being the go-to player for the Nuggets this season, especially at crunch time.

“I’ve always been trying to do that, since I came to Denver,” Gallinari said. “That’s what I like to do. I feel good filling those shoes.

“I want to have the ball in my hands. I do want to have the ball in my hands a lot more.”