Henry Sims

76ers out-tank the Heat, but Nets probably save Miami


The Miami Heat started a player they once pledged not to re-sign, their second-best Dragic, someone better known by his previous name, a former second-rounder who played in Australia last season and an undrafted rookie

And they still couldn’t lose.

In a high-stake game with the Heat’s top-10 protected first-round pick on the line, the 76ers dealt Miami a crucial win and dramatically increased the odds of the Heat’s pick going to Philadelphia. But the Nets beat the Magic, probably saving Miami from a huge roster-building letdown.

The Heat hold the No. 10 seed in the lottery and have just a 9.1 percent chance of falling and sending it to the Philadelphia (which got it in the Kevin Love-Andrew Wiggins trade from Cleveland, which got it from Miami in the 2010 LeBron James sign-and-trade). If Brooklyn lost, Miami would have had a 53.1 percent chance of losing the pick.

Still, the 76ers did all they could to tilt the odds in their favor by losing to the Heat tonight.

Actually with just 13 combined players – many of them scrubs, at that – playing, it might be inappropriate to say the Heat beat the 76ers.

Michael Beasley, Zoran Dragic, Henry Walker, James Ennis, Tyler Johnson and Udonis Haslem beat Jerami Grant, Henry Sims, JaKarr Sampson, Robert Covington, Glenn Robinson III, Hollis Thompson and Thomas Robinson.

Four of the Heat’s starters played all 48 minutes with Dragic (41 minutes) and Udonis Haslem (seven minutes) splitting the rest. This was a farce.

The 76ers’ two years of tanking experience paid off. They knew how to get the job done.

It just probably won’t be enough to get Miami’s pick.

That’s the loss that hurts.

76ers see Nerlens Noel as a center, which creates a Joel Embiid-sized problem


For all the talk about the 76ers tanking to get high draft picks, they have just three of the 120 top-10 picks still in the NBA:

  • Joel Embiid (No. 3 in 2014)
  • Jason Richardson (No. 5 in 2001)
  • Nerlens Noel (No. 6 in 2013)

Richardson hasn’t played in years, and he’s clearly not in the 76ers’ long-term plans. So, you’d think they’d want to get the most from Embiid and Noel.

The 6-foot-11, 228-pound Noel is in his rookie year after missing all of last season due to injury while the 7-foot, 250-pound Embiid sits out his first professional season with his own injury. It’ll be a while before we see how they fit together, but we can begin to analyze. Embiid definitely projects as a center, and Noel has swung between both big-man positions.

Can they eventually share a lineup?

Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com:

Coach Brett Brown was asked whether Noel is a better fit at power forward or center and said, “I think right now it’s a five” and that “He’s gone from being a four man playing alongside Henry Sims to a five man, which is going to be a challenge for us when Joel gets healthy next year.”

At another moment, it’s “Look at what a lot of teams do with their four men. They’re away from the basket. Most of the fours nowadays can almost shoot threes. If that’s your world, naturally you’re pulled away from the basket. That was Nerlens’ problem when we played him at four. He’s so used to just running to the rim, he’d lose Dirk (Nowitzki), he’d lose perimeter people. It wasn’t natural for him. Maybe he can guard a five player (better). I don’t know. I think it’s all a work in progress. But he really is a presence at the rim.”

And what of the eventual position conflict with Embiid, since there isn’t much appeal in taking his defense away from the rim?

“We’ll deal with it,” Brown said. “I think it’s a good problem to have and it’s not one that we’re shying away from. We still do all of our deliberate practice work with Nerlens from 18 feet. We still work on his form. Nothing really changes. It’s just with what we have right now, he’s been slid over to a five spot. We’re happy with his progress. I think it’s just something that we’ll figure out as time unfolds.”

Noel needs to add either bulk to play center or a jumper and awareness to defend on the perimeter to play power forward. I suspect bulk will come much easier for the 20-year-old.

Sixers fans who are Comcast Sportsnet Philadelphia subscribers can watch the Sixers take on the Suns Friday night in a live stream by following this link.

At best, it’ll be a while before Noel or Embiid has the skill to complement the other as a power forward. At worst, it’ll never happen, and that possibility leaves Philadelphia in a bind.

The 76ers can experiment with the talented and tall duo once Embiid gets healthy next season, and if they don’t work together, that could help Philadelphia tank for another high pick. And if bigs click better than expected, great, the 76ers would be pretty good.

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Complicating matters further, four of the top five prospects for the 2015 draft are big men, according to both ESPN and DraftExpress. A frontcourt with two ill-fitting pieces could add another if Philadelphia drafts the most valuable player available.

I suspect the 76ers are in the talent-acquisition phase of their rebuild. Add quality players and then later sort out how they fit, trading those who don’t. So, having both Embiid and Noel is no problem right now.

But if Noel’s best position is center, that speaks to how long the 76ers will delay their ascension up the standings – and what they must do to get there.

76ers and Timberwolves must re-start game after shooting at wrong baskets


The 76ers are bad – 0-17 and one loss from tying the NBA record for consecutive losses to begin a season.

The Timberwolves aren’t nearly as awful, but they’re still the Western Conference’s worst team at 4-12.

That’s what made tonight’s Philadelphia-Minnesota game so intriguing. With history on the line, the 76ers finally found an opponent maybe even they could beat.

Thankfully, the contest has lived up to expectations for hilarity.

The teams began the game going the wrong direction!

Henry Sims drew a foul and was headed to the free-throw line before officials realized the error (hat tip: Jon Krawczynski of the Associated Press). The game re-tipped, and Philadelphia is trying again to earn its first win.

This is so amazing. It’s probably my favorite moment of the season. Seriously.

To set the bar so low and still crawl under it is one special feat.

Spurs’ Marco Belinelli posterizes Henry Sims. You read that right. (VIDEO)


Things I never thought I’d type include:

That was a huge dunk by Marco Belinelli.

But such is life against the Sixers — everyone can make big plays. The Spurs’ Belinelli is thought of as a three point shooter and little else, but he can put the ball on the floor. Although usually just to create enough space for another jumper. Not this time — he has a clear pass to the basket and takes it.

And no Henry Sims is going to stop him.

Kentucky coach John Calipari: ‘If we played ANY NBA team, we would get buried’


Kentucky beat Georgetown College, 121-52, in an exhibition game last night, and Georgetown College coach Chris Briggs got a little carried away afterward.

Briggs, via Larry Vaught of The Advocate Messenger:

if they play like they did tonight, they’re an NBA playoff team.

Kentucky coach John Calipari – who knows a little something about how much talent his team has – dismissed the notion as hyperbole.

There’s absolutely no question: Kentucky wouldn’t come close to making the NBA playoffs.

Every once in a while, usually with Kentucky lately, we debate whether a college team could beat an NBA team. The safe and mostly correct answer is a resounding no.

But could this year’s 76ers be bad enough to change the verdict?

The typical response to the debate is that a great college team has a few NBA-caliber players and an NBA team has 15. But how many 76ers would be in the NBA right now if Philadelphia weren’t tanking? It’s rare even the worst teams build a roster like this.

ESPN’s Kevin Pelton projected just six 76ers would finish perform better this season than a replacement-level player: Michael Carter-Williams, Nerlens Noel, Henry Sims, Tony Wroten, K.J. McDaniels and Chris Johnson.

Meanwhile, Kentucky has the Nos. 3, 10, 19, 30, 32, 33, 37, 39 and 43 prospects in the DraftExpress rankings. Of course, that doesn’t mean six of Karl Towns, Willie Cauley-Stein, Dakari Johnson, Andrew Harrison, Marcus Lee, Aaron Harrison, Devin Booker, Alex Poythress and Trey Lyles would fare positively in the NBA right now. But that’s an impressive amount of depth for a college team.

I’d definitely pick the 76ers over Kentucky right now, but before making definitive judgments, let’s see a little more of both teams in action.