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.

League’s Last Two Minute Report backs referees (mostly) in Raptors/Thunder game

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Anyone who watched the Thunder’s win over the Raptors Sunday afternoon in Toronto — especially the final few minutes — thought it was not referee Marc Davis and crew’s finest hour. There were missed calls and three-straight ejections of Raptors players, which all seemed rather hair-trigger (especially coach Dwane Casey, who was tossed for something a fan behind him said).

The NBA’s Last Two Minute report doesn’t see it that way — it says the referees nailed it.

According to the report, there was only one missed call in the final two minutes: Carmelo Anthony held Pascal Siakam as a pass came to him with 11.7 seconds left, and that should have been called.

What about the play that set DeMar DeRozan off and ultimately got him ejected, the drive to the basket with 33 seconds left (and the Raptors down two) where DeRozan thought Corey Brewer fouled him? The report said that was a good no call:

DeRozan (TOR) starts his drive and Brewer (OKC) moves laterally in his path and there is contact. The contact is incidental as both players attempt to perform normal basketball moves….

RHH shows Brewer (OKC) make contact with the ball and the part of DeRozan’s (TOR) hand that is on the ball. The hand is considered “part of the ball” when it is in contact with the ball and therefore, contact on that part of the hand by a defender while it is in contact with the ball is not illegal.

(I didn’t see it that way, I think the contact was more than incidental, and to me looking at the replay Brewer catches some wrist and impedes the shot in a way that was not legal. Just my two cents.)

The report does not cover the ejections, which are reviewed by league operations but not part of this report.

Three thoughts out of all this:

1) Raptors fans/management/players have every right to feel the calls went against them in this game. As for calls always going against them — as DeRozan complained about after the game — 29 other teams and fan bases are convinced the officials have it out for them, too. I never bought that.

2) The Raptors didn’t lose this game solely because of the officiating. Russell Westbrook was clutch down the stretch, the Thunder were part of it, and the Raptors had other issues, too (Serge Ibaka had a rough game, for example).

3) This loss also does not say a thing about the Raptors in the postseason (even if they went a little too much isolation at the end) — this was their third game in four days, they looked tired and flat at the end. That will not be the case in the playoffs.

Rumor: Injured Jimmy Butler wore his jersey under shirt and jacket on Timberwolves bench

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Jimmy Butler‘s competitive fire burns hot.

How hot?

Butler is chomping at the bit to return from his knee injury. He sat on the Timberwolves’ bench during their loss to the Rockets last night wearing what appeared to be typical attire for a sidelined player. But dig deeper, and…

Marc Stein of The New York Times:

This story is too good to check out.

Kevin Love returns to Cavaliers lineup Monday vs. Bucks

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The last time Kevin Love suited up for the Cavaliers, it was still January and Isaiah Thomas, Dwyane Wade, and Jae Crowder were still on the team.

That is about to change tonight — Love will return from a fractured hand and play for the Cavaliers, but on a minutes restriction to start, interim coach Larry Drew confirmed.

Cleveland needs Love back. The Cavaliers went 11-9 without him in this stretch (and 6-7 since the All-Star break) with an offense that has still been top 10 in the NBA but a defense that is holding them back. The Cavaliers’ defense is just not on the same page right now, and the more time the regular rotations guys get to play together, the better they should be before the playoffs start.

As Love rounds into form, the Cavaliers have to figure out their rotations. Does Love start Love next to Larry Nance Jr., or does Nance come off the bench again? Probably the latter, but the Cavaliers will toy with the rotations (and do that more when Tristan Thompson returns).

Former NBA All-Star Steve Francis cited for public intoxication

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What happened to Steve Francis [after his playing days]? I was drinking heavily, is what happened. And that can be just as bad (as drug use). In the span of a few years I lost basketball, I lost my whole identity, and I lost my stepfather, who committed suicide.”
—Steve Francis, writing in the Players’ Tribune earlier this month, about his journey from selling crack to the NBA, and what happened after.

Addiction, once it’s got you, never goes away. The fight to stay sober/clean is a new one every day.

Steve Francis was cited for public intoxication in Burbank, Calif., after an incident at a hotel bar, according to TMZ (since confirmed by other reports).

Francis, 41, was arrested around 11:40 PM after police were called for a disturbance between two men at a hotel in Burbank.

Law enforcement sources tell us when cops arrived, Francis was intoxicated. He was arrested for being drunk in public.

Francis was transported to jail … before being given a citation and released around 7 AM Monday morning.

Francis denied in the Players’ Tribune article rumors he had a drug problem, but he owned up to drinking.