Brett Brown: 76ers’ have just six NBA players

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Many advanced stats, in basketball and other sports, rely on a concept called a replacement player. A replacement player is a hypothetical player who can easily be obtained to fill out the roster.

In his definition of an NBA replacement player, Kevin Pelton says a team of replacement players would win 10 games in a season. So, that should show the level of a replacement player is pretty low.

Yet, every season, for one reason or another, there are many NBA players who produce at below replacement levels. This season, it seems many of those sub-replacement-level players will be members of the 76ers.

Keith Pompey of The Inquirer:

Michael Carter-Williams, James Anderson, Evan Turner, Thaddeus Young, and Spencer Hawes are the clear starters. The second thing is that power forward/center Lavoy Allen is an experienced NBA player who is finding his way back into shape.

“And after that, who knows?” Sixers coach Brett Brown said before Monday’s 104-93 setback to Cleveland in Columbus, Ohio. “You have six NBA players and then you have a bunch of guys who are fighting for spots and want to be seen and need opportunity.”

The former San Antonio Spurs assistant is not including injured players – rookie Nerlens Noel (torn anterior cruciate ligament) and veterans Jason Richardson (knee), Kwame Brown (hamstring), and Arnett Moultrie (ankle). All have guaranteed contracts and are expected make the 15-man roster.

If I were Darius Morris, Tony Wroten or Daniel Orton, I’d be a little perturbed by that comment.

But only a little.

Though Morris, Wroten and Orton played in the NBA last season, they’re not necessarily NBA players anymore. Vander Blue, Mac Koshwal, Gani Lawal , Hollis Thompson, Royce White , Rodney Williams and Khalif Wyatt all want a spot on the roster, and the Riggin’-for-Wiggins 76ers are just the team to accommodate.

This is a large group of flawed players, and Philadelphia will keep whomever it believes can help most down the road. That’s obviously a difficult judgment to make with players like these, so the small margins can matter a great deal.

Experience alone won’t cut it. Brown is in a rare position to demand a lot from a large share of his roster, because the 76ers have relatively few highly paid players. These 10 players are really going to have to bust their hump to make the roster.

As Brown is all too happy to remind them, they’re not really NBA players yet.

Royce O’Neale agrees to four-year, $36 million contract extension to stay in Utah

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Royce O'Neale is a name casual NBA fans may not recognize.

However, GMs around the league recognize him is the kind of role player teams need to win. O’Neale is asked to guard the opposing team’s best wing player nightly, while on the other end of the court he’s shooting 44.3 percent from three. He’s become a critical part of Utah’s rotation.

So the Jazz have locked him up with a contract extension, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

The Jazz — who have won 16-of-18 — just got Mike Conley back in the rotation, and have jumped up to a top-four seed in the West (as of this writing). Things are looking up, and also they have set themselves up well financially for the future.

Bigger bills are coming in Utah, in the summer of 2021 the Jazz will need to max out Donovan Mitchell with an extension plus re-sign Rudy Gobert. Which is why locking in a quality role player like O’Neale at a fair price now is a smart move.

Watch Marcus Smart set Celtics’ record with 11 threes, still not enough to beat Suns

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BOSTON (AP) — Devin Booker had 39 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists and the Phoenix Suns overcame a franchise-record 11 3-pointers by Boston’s Marcus Smart and beat the Celtics 123-119 on Saturday night.

Smart shot 11 for 22 from 3-point range and finished with a career-best 37 points. His performance marked the first time in NBA history that a player made 11 or more 3-points in a losing effort, according to Stats.

Deandre Ayton had 26 points and 15 rebounds and Mikal Bridges added a career-best 26 points for the Suns, who have won four of their last five games.

Jayson Tatum scored 26 points and Gordon Hayward added 22 for Boston, which has lost three straight and six of eight.

Three years ago, Booker scored 70 points in a loss to the Celtics in TD Garden. He finished an assist shy of his first career triple-double.

The Celtics were missing two of their top three leading scorers – Kemba Walker (team-best 22.1 per game), out with left knee soreness, and Jaylen Brown (20.0), sidelined for the second straight game with a sprained right thumb.

Boston cut its deficit to 90-85 early in the fourth, but Dario Saric and Bridges answered with consecutive 3s. The Celtics had it down to 114-111 on Daniel Theis‘ breakaway dunk with about a minute left, but Bridges hit a jumper in the lane with 37 seconds to play.

Booker’s two free throws sealed it with 4.8 seconds left.

The Suns led 60-51 at halftime and answered – mainly behind Booker and Ayton – any surge by Boston. The lead never fell below seven in the quarter, with Booker scoring nine points and Ayton getting eight.

The loss of two key players showed for the Celtics in the first quarter when the Suns broke in front 26-10 before Boston’s bench helped spark a 15-0 run.

 

LeBron James gets ‘M-V-P’ chants in Houston

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Laker fans are everywhere.

Decades of stars and success — from Magic Johnson through Kobe Bryant — turned the Lakers into the biggest franchise brand in the NBA, the only thing that might rival it is LeBron James‘ brand. Combine those two and there seem to be loud, at points obnoxious, Lakers fans in every arena.

Case in point: LeBron James got “M-V-P” chants in Houston while the Lakers beat the Rockets.

LeBron called it humbling.

LeBron’s play this season — 25.5 points and a career-high 10.9 assists a game, playing his best defense in years and leading the Lakers to a West best 34-8 record — has him in the hunt for a fifth MVP award (although he’s not who we would vote for right now).

Expect to hear these chants in a lot more buildings this season.

Check out Stephen Curry the sideline reporter (VIDEO)

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Stephen Curry, the most overpaid sideline reporter in the NBA.”

That’s how Curry was introduced on the Warriors broadcast Saturday night as he took over some sideline reporting duties while still out after fracturing his hand four games into the season. What else has he got to do?

Above you can see the best of Curry’s reactions, or check out his walk-off interview with Eric Paschall:

I’d say he shouldn’t quit his day job, but that job also pays a little better.

By the way, the Warriors ended their losing streak with a 109-95 victory over Orlando. D'Angelo Russell led the way with 26 points.