What the 76ers should do if the lockout ends

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This is the latest installment of PBT’s series of “What your team should do when the lockout ends.” Up next is the Philadelphia 76ers. You can also check out our thoughts on other NBA teams here as we work our way through all 30 squads.

After a miserable 09-10 campaign, the 76ers made their way back to respectability last season, earning a playoff berth and putting up a decent fight in the 1st round against the eventual conference champion Heat. Despite #2 overall pick Evan Turner having a disappointing season, the 76ers responded to new coach Doug Collins, and were one of the 10 best defensive teams in the league. Here’s what the 76ers can do to build on last season’s playoff birth:

1. Make a decision on Andre Iguodala

The 76ers owe Iguodala approximately 14 million dollars this season and next season, and Iguodala has a $15 million player option for the season after that. At this point in his career, we know who Iguodala is: a great perimeter defender who’s a terror on the fast break, can contribute without the ball in his hands, can make open threes on occasion, and a player who is not capable of being an efficient #1 option offensively. The 76ers have to decide whether they want to move ahead with Iguodala, which would probably make them better in the short-term, or try to get rid of his contract and go into more of a full rebuild mode — again.

2. Get more out of Evan Turner

One year after an absolute monster campaign at Ohio State, Turner struggled throughout his rookie season. Turner averaged only seven points, four rebounds, and two assists per game last year, and is PER was an ugly 10.87. It’s way, way, way too early to give up on Turner, but he needs to make major strides in his sophomore campaign. Turner needs to get comfortable shooting from beyond the NBA three-point line, figure out how to break down defenses with his passing, and go to the hoop more aggressively when he decides to drive.

3. Continue to believe in the youth movement

Thaddeus Young, Louis Williams, and Jrue Holliday all had promising seasons for the 76ers, and were among the main reasons the team made it into the playoffs. Marreese Speights had a down year in 2010-11, but he had been showing a lot of promise before this season. If those players continue to develop, Turner finds his game, and the 76ers can find a way to seamlessly transition out of the Brand/Iguodala era, they could be a very good team for a while under Doug Collins.

Did the Warriors deal Rockets a knockout blow in Western Conference finals?

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The Warriors beat the Rockets by 41 (!) in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals Sunday.

Biggest playoff win in Golden State franchise history.

Biggest playoff loss in Houston franchise history.

Biggest playoff loss ever handed to any team as good as the 65-17 Rockets.

“At the end of the day, it’s one win,” Warriors forward Draymond Green said. “It doesn’t matter if you win by 40 or if you win by one.”

Maybe it matters more than Green is letting on.

Golden State was the 17th team to -win a playoff game by more than 40 points. Of the previous 16, 15 – including the last 14 – won the series:

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The only exception came in my favorite playoff series of all-time, the best-of-three 1956 Western Division semifinals:

  • Game 1: St. Louis Hawks 116, Minneapolis Lakers 115
  • Game 2: Minneapolis Lakers 133, St. Louis Hawks 75
  • Game 3: St. Louis Hawks 116, Minneapolis Lakers 115

So, teams to win a playoff game by more than 40 are 15-0 in best-of-seven or best-of-five series. Will the Rockets buck the trend?

They can make adjustments. Maybe Houston’s strong regular season – better than any above blown-out team’s – indicates a rare capability to recover from this. Andre Iguodala‘s injury hurts Golden State. Teams sometimes make historic comebacks from blowouts, including against the Warriors.

But that Golden State ran toppled the Rockets so decisively in Game 3 suggests the Warriors are hitting a gear Houston won’t keep up with.

Ben Simmons and Donovan Mitchell receive, Jayson Tatum one vote shy of, unanimous All-Rookie first-team selections

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The 76ers’ Ben Simmons, Jazz’s Donovan Mitchell, Celtics’ Jayson Tatum and Lakers’ Kyle Kuzma were locks for the All-Rookie first team.

The final seemingly up-for-grabs spot? It went to the Bulls’ Lauri Markkanen, and it wasn’t close.

Here’s the full voting for All-Rookie teams (first-team votes, second-team votes, total voting points):

First team

  • Donovan Mitchell, UTA (100-0-200)
  • Ben Simmons, PHI (100-0-200)
  • Jayson Tatum, BOS (99-1-199)
  • Kyle Kuzma, LAL (93-7-193)
  • Lauri Markkanen, CHI (76-21-173)

Second team

Others receiving votes:

The first team matches our choices.

Dennis Smith Jr. and Josh Jackson are the only selections I’d quibble with. Those two were just so destructive with shooting efficiency and defense. To be fair, they were pressed into larger roles than they were ready for on bad teams. But if the goal is picking the rookies who had the best seasons (what I aim to do), Smith and Jackson didn’t cut it.

However, some voters give more credence to long-term potential, and Smith and Jackson both have plenty of that. Other voters are drawn by bigger per-game numbers, which Smith and Jackson produced in their larger roles. So, it’s minimally surprising they made it.

That one first-team vote for Jackson, though? That’s odd – and it was enough to get him on the second team by one voting point over Heat center Bam Adebayo.

After climbing into striking distance of first-round, Georgia Tech’s Josh Okogie staying in draft

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Georgia Tech sophomore shooting guard Josh Okogie nailed the combine. He aced his athletic testing, posting some of the best quickness numbers in the event’s history, and impressed even more with his 5-on-5 play.

Now, it’s time to capitalize.

Okogie:

Okogie appears to be a borderline first-round pick. NBA teams covet versatile wings like him.

Just 19 until September, Okogie is younger than freshmen like DeAndre Ayton, Mohamed Bamba and Michael Porter Jr. So, Okogie looks better on the aging curve than the typical sophomore.

At 6-foot-5 with a 7-foot wingspan, he can defend three – maybe four – positions. He freelances a little too much defensively, but at least he’s active.

Okogie was probably miscast as a go-to offensive player at Georgia Tech. NBA teams won’t similarly lean on his deficient areas – court vision, ball-handling and finishing. He’ll probably be more efficient just spotting up and cutting.

The biggest variable in Okogie’s game is 3-point shooting. Will he reliably make NBA 3s? His form offers reason to believe, but not reason to be convinced.

After seeing video, Milwaukee mayor expressing concern about police conduct in arrest of Bucks guard Sterling Brown

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MILWAUKEE (AP) — Milwaukee’s mayor is expressing concern about police conduct in the stun-gun arrest of Bucks guard Sterling Brown in January.

Mayor Tom Barrett says he’s viewed police video of Brown’s arrest over an alleged parking violation. He did not offer details but has said he has questions about how police acted. The video might be released this week.

Police have shown the body-camera footage to some local officials, including a closed session of a Common Council committee.

Brown was arrested in a Walgreens parking lot about 2 a.m. Jan. 26. Officers had been checking on a vehicle parked across two handicap spaces. Brown was not charged.

The Bucks signed the 6-foot-6 guard from SMU last summer in a deal with the Philadelphia 76ers.