Points by Ben Simmons during Game 3 victory over Nets

Eric Fisher’s weekly column on a variety of topics. This week Eric serves up opinions on the NCAA lifting Penn State’s sanctions, a positive NFL story overshadowed by the Ray Rice debacle, and how Chip Kelly’s roster moves Sunday hurt the Eagles.

Carson Wentz put the Eagles in position to win the game, but rookie kicker Jake Elliott becomes the hero by drilling a franchise-record 61-yard field goal as time expires to lift the Eagles past the Giants, 27-24. Full story coming later.

Villanova recovers from another poor first half, but the Wildcats are unable to shake Wisconsin, dropping a 65-62 decision to the Badgers in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, ending their hopes to repeat as national champions.

Archive for the ‘76ers’ Category

Sixers Notebook: Long absence raises issues

Posted by Eric Fisher On March - 9 - 2019 ADD COMMENTS

Joel Embiid led the Sixers in rebounding in the last eight games he played. In six of those games, Embiid also led the Sixers in scoring.

The problem is that the last game he played was Feb. 13.

Originally estimated as “at least three games,” Embiid’s prolonged absence – eight games and counting – is raising major questions for the 76ers.

Is Embiid’s injury more serious than the Sixers are telling the public? Will Embiid have time to build up his stamina before the playoffs? Can Brett Brown figure out the most effective rotation before the playoffs begin?

The first question is the most important one, both in the short term and the long term. When the Sixers first announced that Embiid would be sidelined due to “left knee soreness,” the indication was that the injury isn’t serious. Embiid also told everyone not to worry. After eight games, however, it’s fair to question whether the injury isn’t more serious than the Sixers and Embiid made it sound.

Players don’t miss eight games with a minor injury. Missing approximately 10 percent of the regular season with one injury is a big deal. Given the Sixers’ history of misleading the public about injuries, concern over the severity of Embiid’s knee injury is justified. And if it’s simply a case of managing his minutes, then concern over the franchise player’s long-term health is warranted.

Let’s assume the Sixers are being honest about Embiid’s injury. That’s a huge leap of faith, but let’s go with it. If sitting out eight games allowed for the exorcism of soreness from Embiid’s left knee, will he have time to regain his stamina before the playoffs begin. There are only 16 games remaining until the postseason. Embiid must rebuild his stamina so that he doesn’t get tired during the playoffs, when he likely will have to play extended minutes.

Even if Embiid is healthy and regains his stamina, there remains another crucial question for the Sixers. How will Brown get all the pieces to fit together in a limited amount of time.

General manager Elton Brand has turned over the roster since the beginning of the season. Gone are Dario Saric, Robert Covington, Markelle Fultz, Landry Shamet, Mike Muscala and Wilson Chandler. All of these players appeared in the starting lineup at some point this season. Added to the roster were Jimmy Butler, Tobias Harris, Boban Marjanovic, Mike Scott, James Ennis III, Jonathon Simmons and Justin Patton. Of that group, only Butler appeared in games prior to February.

Brown had a relatively short time to figure out his rotation. That time frame has been reduced because of Embiid’s injury. A bone bruise and mild strain of Boban Marjanovic’s right knee, which has already kept him sidelined for more than the estimated 5-7 days, further complicates Brown’s task.

Let’s assume that the starting lineup for the playoffs consists of Embiid, Ben Simmons, JJ Redick, Butler and Harris. Which players are pushed out of the rotation? In addition to everyone mentioned earlier, Jonah Bolden, T.J. McConnell and Amir Johnson are also in the mix. Which players are most effective when grouped together? Would the Sixers be better with Butler or Redick coming off the bench to provide a spark on offense?

Brown only has 16 games to figure this out. And that’s only if Embiid doesn’t miss a ninth straight game Sunday against the Pacers.


OFF TARGET: JJ Redick hasn’t made more than half of his shots from the field during the past 10 games. Redick made just 1 of 11 shots Friday during the Sixers’ 107-91 loss to the Rockets. That’s even worse than his 1-for-10 performance during a loss to the Trail Blazers. You can throw in 2-for-9 and 3-for-13 clunkers during this stretch.

The only time Redick reached 50 percent during these 10 games was during a victory over the Magic this past Tuesday. That included 6 for 9 from 3-point range, the only time in the past 10 games in which Redick reached or surpassed 50 percent from 3-point range. He is 20 for 68 (29.4 percent) from 3-point range during this stretch.

Ten games qualifies as a bona fide slump. Perhaps some of the slump can be attributed to Joel Embiid’s absence. Perhaps Redick can’t run his handoff plays as well without Embiid. Another possibility is that Redick is having difficulty to adjusting to the offense with Harris, another terrific 3-point shooter, in the lineup. Regardless of the reason, the Sixers need Redick to get his shooting woes worked out before the postseason.


NO SHOT: Redick wasn’t the only Sixer who struggled with his outside shooting Friday against the Rockets. The Sixers finished 3 for 26 from 3-point range.


CENTERS OF ATTENTION: With Joel Embiid and Boban Marjanovic sidelined with injuries, the Sixers have turned to Johan Bolden, Amir Johnson and Justin Patton to fill the void at center. Johnson, in his 14th NBA season, has been inactive so much that he volunteered to play with the Blue Coats, the Sixers’ affiliate in the G-League. Active in four of th e past five games, Johnson has played between 12½ and 20 minutes and averaged seven points and five rebounds.

Patton saw his first action for the Sixers this season during Tuesday’s win over the Magic. He also played during Friday’s loss to the Rockets, although he did not play during Wednesday’s loss to the Bulls. Patton played 18 minutes, 27 seconds during the two games, scoring five points and grabbing five rebounds.

When Embiid and Marjanovic return, it’s unlikely that Johnson or Patton will see much action, although it’s possible that Bolden stays in the rotation. But the Sixers don’t have much choice these days.


LOSING LEADS: The Sixers lost a 10-point lead during a 108-107 loss to the lowly Bulls on Wednesday. The explanation could be that the Sixers were playing on the road on the second night of back-to-back games. But this wasn’t an isolated incident.

Even when winning games, the Sixers seem to make things more difficult for themselves by losing big leads during the second half. During the past month, the Sixers have lost big leads against the Knicks, Pelicans and Magic – and those were in games they won. They lost to the Bulls and Warriors after holding double-digit leads.


NO MAGICAL SOLUTION: In case you missed it, the Magic have shut down former Sixers guard Markelle Fultz for the rest of the season due to shoulder issues.


KEEPING PACE: The Pacers were supposed to collapse after the season-ending injury to Victor Oladipo, their only star. Instead, the Pacers (42-24) have maintained their third-place position in the Eastern Conference. They are still one game ahead of the Sixers (41-25) and two games ahead of the Celtics (40-26).  The Sixers, of course, host the Pacers on Sunday (3:30 p.m.).


WEST ALMOST SET: With fewer than 20 games remaining in the regular season, the playoff field is almost set in the Western Conference. Playoff seeding is still uncertain, but the Spurs (37-29), who hold the final qualifying playoff berth in the Western Conference, have a four-game lead over the Kings, the first team outside the playoff picture. The next closest teams, the Timberwolves and collapsing Lakers, trail the Spurs by 6½ games. Barring a surge by the Kings or a collapse by the Spurs, Clippers or Jazz, the entrants into the playoffs from the West are set.


SUPER SUNDAYS: The Sixers’ schedule during the next eight days is bookended by a pair of important Sunday games. The Sixers host the Pacers on Sunday (3:30 p.m.) and then visit the Eastern Conference-leading Bucks next Sunday (March 17). In between, they host the Cavaliers on Tuesday (7 p.m.) and Kings on Friday (7 p.m.).

Worst Sixers draft picks

Posted by Eric Fisher On February - 16 - 2019 ADD COMMENTS

Several factors are involved in evaluating how bad a draft pick turned out. The first is that player’s performance while with the Sixers. The second is how high that player was selected and, if applicable, what the Sixers gave up to acquire that pick. An additional factor is what other players were available for the Sixers to select at that time.

Now that the criteria is set, PhillyPhanatics.com presents our top 10 list — or should it be the bottom 10 list? — of the worst Sixers draft picks during the past 50 years.

10. Keith Van Horn, 1997, No. 2 The Sixers immediately traded the Utah forward to the Nets for the 7th overall pick, Villanova forward Tim Thomas, who didn’t make it through 1 1/2 seasons with the Sixers before being traded. Van Horn comes back to the Sixers for the 2002-03 season and averages 15.9 points. Better draft options included Chauncey Billups (No. 3) and Tracy McGrady (No. 9).

9. Freddie Boyd, 1972, No. 5 The scoring averages for this guard from Oregon State declined every season after he averaged 10.5 points as a rookie. Boyd was traded after playing 2 games of his 4th season with the Sixers. Heaveraged 8.5 points in 6 NBA seasons. Guard Paul Westphal was selected 10th overall. Massachusetts forward Julius Erving, who was headed to the ABA, was selected at No. 12.

8. Jahlil Okafor, 2015, No. 3 The Duke forward played just 2 games in his third season with the Sixers before being traded to the Nets. After averaging 17.5 points as a rookie, Okafor’s game declined. He also had trouble off the court and was a poor defender. He’s a bench player for the Pelicans this season. Kristaps Porzingis (No. 4), Devin Booker (No. 13) and Terry Rozier (No. 16) would have been much better selections.

7. Evan Turner, 2010, No. 2 The guard from Ohio State has averaged 10 points per game during an NBA career that is still in progress. Turner’s scoring average increased during each of his 3-plus seasons with the Sixers, but he was traded before completing his 4th season. DeMarcus Cousins was selected three picks later and Gordon Hawyward was selected No. 9, but the best swingman selection would have been Paul George, who was picked 10th overall.

6. Leon Wood, 1984, No. 10 The Sixers got off to a terrific start in this draft by selecting Auburn forward Charles Barkley at No. 5. But they used the second of their three first-round picks on Wood, a guard from Cal State-Fullerton. Wood last just 67 games for the Sixers before being traded to Washington during his 2nd season. He averaged 6.4 points during 6 NBA seasons before becoming an NBA referee. What makes the Wood pick worse is that the Sixers could have selected Gonzaga guard John Stockton, who was selected 16th by the Jazz..

5. Jerry Stackhouse, 1995, No. 3 This guard from North Carolina averaged 16.9 points during an 18-year career, including a career high of 29.8 points one season with the Pistons. But Stackhouse lasted just 22 games into his 3rd season with the Sixers before, unable to mesh with Allen Iverson, he was traded him to the Pistons. What earns Stackhouse a high spot on this list is that the two players selected after him during the 1995 draft were his North Carolina teammate Rasheed Wallace and high school center Kevin Garnett.

4. Shawn Bradley, 1993, No. 2  This 7-foot-6 center from BYU was supposed to be a game-changer. Instead, he averaged 8.1 points during a 12-year career. He lasted a little more than 2 seasons with the Sixers before being traded to the Nets. The next two players selected in the 1993 draft were Anfernee Hardaway and Jamal Mashburn.

3. Larry Hughes, 1998, No. 8 Averaged 14.1 points during a 13-year NBA career, but the guard from St. Louis averaged 9.1 and 10 points with the Sixers before being traded during his season season with the team. What elevates Hughes on this list is that the next two players selected in 1998 were Dirk Nowitzki and Paul Pierce.

2. Marvin Barnes, 1974, No. 2 pick Barnes’ nickname was “Bad News,” and he certainly lived up to that nickname for the Sixers. The talented Providence forward never played a game for the Sixers. He spent 2 seasons in the ABA, averaging 24 points per game, before coming to the NBA for 4 pedestrian seasons. Forwards the Sixers passed on included Bobby Jones (No. 5), Jamaal Wilkes (No. 10) and Maurice Lucas (No. 14).

1. Markelle Fultz, 2017, No. 1 overall The Sixers traded up from No. 3 to No. 1 in order to select this combination guard from Washington even though they probably could have drafted Fultz at No. 3. The Celtics got Jayson Tatum at No. 3 and a first-round pick from the Sixers. Meanwhile, Fultz played 33 games for the Sixers in a little more than 1 1/2 seasons and became a distraction before being traded to the Magic at this year’s trade deadline.

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