Kurt Helin

Rudy Gobert was blocking, dunking on Serbia Sunday

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Rudy Gobert had a solid EuroBasket for France, controlling the paint (except against Pau Gasol), grabbing rebounds and getting his points by staying in his lane and playing hard around the rim.

That continued Sunday when France won the bronze medal at EuroBasket beating Serbia 81-68. The Utah Jazz big man had 15 points and 14 rebounds, to go with three blocked shots.

And his blocks tend to be impressive.

 

51Q: How long will 76ers owner stay patient rebuilding?

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PBT is previewing the 2015-16 NBA season by tackling 51 big questions that we can’t wait to see answered once play tips off. We will answer one a day right up to the start of the season Oct. 27. Today’s question:

How much longer will Philadelphia 76ers ownership be okay with this rebuilding process?

Trust the process.

That’s been the mantra in Philadelphia as they have taken the “get bad to get good” rebuilding method to an extreme no other team has attempted. The Sixers won 19 games two seasons ago, 18 last season, and they are widely expected to be once again one of the worst teams in the NBA in 2015-16.

Don’t get me wrong, the Sixers should be better this season — Jahlil Okafor is the kind of franchise cornerstone player that GM Sam Hinkie has been looking for, but he is still a rookie and showed in Summer League he has some work to do. Last season coach Brett Brown built a good defensive mindset around Nerlens Noel in the paint and the Sixers were 12th in the NBA in defensive rating and that should continue. Other young players for the Sixers — such as Robert Covington and Nik Stauskas — should show some improvement and progression.

Still, this is going to be a bad team. The playoffs are about as likely as building a colony on Mars by next April. Even something like the 30-win barrier seems impossible to clear.

Trust the process.

The Sixers will head into the 2016 NBA draft with as many as four first-round picks: Theirs, the Lakers (top three protected), the Heat’s (top 10 protected), and the Thunder’s (lottery protected). They still have Dario Saric stashed overseas — he showed a little promise but looked a bit raw at EuroBasket — and he is expected to come over next summer. Plus they have Joel Embiid, who was a top three pick and highly rated, but who is about to miss his second full season due to a second foot surgery (never a good sign with big men).

How Sam Hinkie and the Sixers have gone about building this roster rubs a lot of people in a competitive NBA the wrong way, but no doubt they have the potential if they draft well — or use those draft assets well in trades — to build a quality roster. It’s just going to take more time.

The real question for the Sixers is this:

How much longer will owner Joshua Harris trust the process?

Owners are notoriously impatient — in no other aspect of their business life do they sit on the sidelines and suffer short-term losses for long-term profits for very long (if at all). To his credit Harris has been patient. He bought in from the start on the Hinkie plan and has stayed out of his way. But it’s fair to ask after a third straight ugly season ends next April for the Sixers, will he continue to be that patient?

A lot of it likely comes down to progress shown — this season do we see a step forward for the Sixers? With Okafor in the paint (despite a lack of good point guards to feed him the rock), does their offense improve from an abomination in the eyes of the Lord to just plain bad? Does Brown’s defensive culture continue to take root?

Can Harris and the rest of us see the foundation for future success starting to solidify?

If so, and if the Sixers can draft well in 2016 (or at least appear to, it’s always hard to judge a class until a few years out), then there is good reason to stick with the plan. But starting now there needs to be some tangible annual improvement — by 2017-18 this needs to be a team over .500 that makes the playoffs (or is at least close, if the East improves). That’s still a couple years away, but it would be the fifth year of this rebuilding effort and a reasonable target considering how far the Sixers have to go.

Hinkie can’t use a perpetual rebuild for perpetual job security forever — at some point there needs to be real, tangible progress. That needs to start this season, even if it only slightly registers in the win column.

If not, he could find himself dealing with an impatient owner.

Parker, Batum say they will play for France in 2016

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There is still a bitter taste in the mouths of the French players after their overtime loss to Spain in the EuroBasket semifinals. Especially since the French were hosting the final rounds of the event in Lille. France was up by 11 and seemingly in control of the game at one point, but could not stop Pau Gasol who scored 40 — French players said publicly they thought the referees handled Gasol with kid gloves — and Spain came back and won in overtime.

After the French beat Serbia 81-68 Sunday to take the EuroBasket bronze medal, Tony Parker and Nicolas Batum took the mike in the arena to thank the French fans — and they both said they would play next summer to help France qualify for the Rio Olympics. Via Sportando:

“We are sorry that we did not win the gold medal. You have been amazing” the two NBA stars said. “We will be stronger in Rio 2016. We will not leave French National Team.”

Because they fell to Spain (who earned an automatic ticket to Rio with the win), France has to go through the pre-Olympic qualifying tournaments. In that 18 teams — including France, Greece, Canada, Mexico, Italy Angola — will be randomly drawn into three different groups of six. Those six will play in a mini-tournament with the winner getting a pass to the Rio Olympics.

What that means is a lot of it comes down to the draw. Put France, Italy and Canada in one group and you may have a group of death with the three best teams not already qualified beating each other up. It would be a very FIBA thing to do. Or, maybe the ball bounces France’s way and it’s a much easier draw. Who knows? But wherever France lands, so long as Parker, Batum, and Rudy Gobert all play (and maybe Boris Diaw, too) the French will be the favorite to win their group.

As a side note, Parker and Batum were not terribly impressive against Serbia. Batum was 3-of-9 from the floor, Parker had 13 points but on 3-of-12 shooting.

France beats Serbia 81-68 to take Eurobasket bronze medal

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LILLE, France (AP) — France pulled away in the third quarter to beat Serbia 81-68 and win the bronze medal at the European basketball championship on Sunday.

Spain and Lithuania play for the title later Sunday.

France was the defending champion but lost the semifinal to Spain, champion in 2009 and 2011. Serbia won its first seven games at the tournament but lost the final two.

The host team outscored Serbia 21-12 in the third quarter following a 10-0 run and led by as many as 16 points.

Nando de Colo led France with 20 points, while center Rudy Gobert had 15 points and 14 rebounds. Evan Fournier added 15 points, including five straight in the fourth that dispelled any hopes of a Serbian comeback as France took a 12-point lead.

“This is not what we came here for but it’s always good to finish with a win,” de Colo said.

Both Serbia and France clinched spots in qualifying tournaments for next year’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. France coach Vincent Collet said all French stars, including Tony Parker, who had 13 points on 3-for-12 shooting from the field, would return.

“We all agreed that that the main goal is to win an Olympic medal, this is the last chance for this generation to win an Olympic medal, but it won’t be easy to qualify,” Collet said.

Serbia’s star guard Milos Teodosic went 0-for-9 from the field and his only points were three free throws. Bogdan Bogdanovic led Serbia with 14 points. France pulled down 14 more rebounds.

Serbia’s coach Sasha Djordjevic said his team would be back “with more heart and more desire.”

“We want to go to the Olympics,” said Djordjevic, who guided his team to the World Cup silver medal last year.

Jimmer Fredette admits he was surprised Spurs called

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Jimmer Fredette couldn’t crack the rotation in New Orleans last season, playing just more than 500 minutes all season long for the team on the rise in the West. When he did get in he wasn’t very good — the one thing he’s known for is shooting, but he hit just 18.8 percent from three (well below his career 38 percent mark). It made you wonder if his time in the NBA was over.

Then the Spurs called.

Fredette has a partially guaranteed deal going into Spurs camp and the chance to make the roster as their latest shooting guard reclamation project. And because it’s the Spurs it comes with a little respect and the feeling “maybe they are seeing something nobody else is.” Fredette admitted to the Deseret News that he was surprised the call came, but he thinks he can make it work.

“It’s an awesome opportunity. When I got the phone call, I wasn’t expecting this opportunity at all. It is something I’m grateful they offered me and it showed they want me on the team. They don’t offer people for no reason. They see a type of guy they want and they go after (him) and I’m glad I’m their type of guy….

“I’m coming in with the expectation that I’m going to have to work as hard as I can to get playing time and work my way in the rotation. One thing I do know, if I’m on the team, they do give guys rests. So, I will have the opportunity to play and I think it is my type of basketball. I think I fit in the system really well, and I love the guys. They are really competitive, but they want to help you help them win games. I’m excited to be part of that kind of culture. I couldn’t ask for a better situation and I hope I can continue to work hard and play well.”

 

Fredette is going to have to play better and stay within the system to make this work. No doubt Fredette can shoot the rock, that was never the question, it was everything else that has held him back. He’s not the point guard/playmaker at the NBA level he thinks he can be. More importantly, his defense simply has to improve if he’s going to make the Spurs roster. In New Orleans, the second he stepped on the court the opponent started running plays right at him. If you can’t defend within the team system, you don’t play for Popovich.

But Fredette has the best chance he’s ever going to get in the NBA, the Spurs see something. We’ll see what he does with it.