Give and Go: Who do you want taking final shot?

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Give and Go: Who do you want taking final shot?

Each week, we'll ask questions about the Sixers to our resident basketball analysts and see what they have to say.

Running the Give and Go this week are CSNPhilly.com columnist John Gonzalez, CSNPhilly.com reporter John Finger and CSN anchor/reporter Marshall Harris.

Which Sixer would you want to take a last-second shot?

Gonzalez
You saw it the other night: Thad Young. He hit the game-winner against the Bobcats after not making a three-pointer in the game until that moment. He's hitting a career-best percentage from long-range this season, and he still has the ability to put the ball on the floor and drive to the basket or post up in the paint and get a shot from there. Spencer Hawes might be a better shooter, and Evan Turner might be a better driver, but Young has both skill sets and is better overall.

Finger
Shoot it? That's a tough one. However, the player I want with the ball is Michael Carter-Williams. Obviously, the point guard can set up guys for a shot, or drive to the hoop, create a shot for himself or get fouled. MCW simply gives the team the best chance to get a bucket. Better yet, in the clutch when the game is within five points in the final three minutes of a quarter, Carter-Williams has committed just two turnovers in nine games. He also is shooting 85.7 percent from the foul line in those situations. So, yes, I'm going with MCW.

Harris
It’s not even about which Sixer takes the last shot, but rather which Sixer has the ball in his hands in the waning seconds with the game on the line. Think Michael Jordan giving it up to John Paxson or Steve Kerr for the game-winner. I want Carter-Williams to be that guy. As we saw when they beat the Bobcats, Carter-Williams has the best court vision on the floor and can also get into the lane with ease to get his own shot off in the paint. No, his jumper isn’t scaring anybody, but that should come. I just think, even as a rookie, his approach is more even keel than to think -- as others might -- that he has to do it himself with no help.

Brett Brown has 'completely different feeling' in training camp this year

Brett Brown has 'completely different feeling' in training camp this year

GALLOWAY, N.J. — Brett Brown left training camp last September with an unsettling feeling. He had just completed long days of scrimmages, drills and planning, and yet he sensed the Sixers were not ready to tackle the 82 games that lied ahead. 

“I remember driving back to Philadelphia last year knowing in my heart of heart that this group was going to be challenged,” Brown said Thursday following the morning practice session at Stockton University. “That was a frightening drive home. That drive home scared me because I felt like, I know what we have and how are we going to be able to maneuver through this?”

Brown was right. The Sixers lost their first 18 games and began the season 1-30. They stumbled the rest of the way, finishing the 2016-17 campaign with a dismal 10-72 record. 

“We really didn’t know who the point guard was,” Brown said. “We came in extremely injured, we were trying to make the Nerlens [Noel]-Jahlil [Okafor] thing work, there really weren’t a lot of veterans to look around [and see], and you knew it.”

Now in his fourth training camp as head coach, with 47 wins and 199 losses with the Sixers behind him, Brown has different emotions as the team nears the end of training camp on Friday. 

Instead of a constantly-changing lineup of players, the Sixers are building a roster that can serve as the foundation for the future. There are nine new players on the team, including first overall pick Ben Simmons and rookie Dario Saric. Joel Embiid will make his NBA debut after two years of injuries, and the Sixers added veteran leaders in free agency.

Brown has a clearer picture of what the team could look like this season and beyond. He is coaching training camp to enter a new chapter, not to simply make it through the upcoming months. 

“You can leave and you can sniff reality,” Brown said. “Now what I see is there’s depth. There are challenges positionally as we’ve talked about. But there’s talent. There’s point guards. They’re sprinkled in with some veterans. How we grow it and play it is still on the table. To me, it’s a completely different feeling that I have now that I did not have last year.”

The additions of Jerryd Bayless and Sergio Rodriguez at the one spot lessen the coaching load for Brown. He also can turn to T.J. McConnell from last season. The depth is a far cry from when the Sixers were quickly changing at that position and didn’t find a consistent starter until they traded for Ish Smith in late December.

“That position, I think, is vital when you start putting a bunch of 20-year-olds around it and trying to find some type of organization,” Brown said. “You just can’t replace a point guard’s intellect. You can’t replace, I think, somebody that has great command from that position. It certainly helps me.”

Brown expects to feel “proud” when the Sixers wrap training camp on Friday. He is looking forward to getting the season underway, beginning with two practices at the new training complex in Camden before their first preseason game Oct. 4 against the Celtics. 

Brown anticipates his drive home this time will be a much different trip. 

“I feel comfortable that we’re ticking boxes and we’re achieving the goals that we set out from the start of what we wanted to get done in Stockton,” he said.

The Sixers continued to monitor load management on Thursday, as Okafor, Embiid and Gerald Henderson did not participate in the morning scrimmage. Bayless also did not go through the scrimmage because of a sore left wrist. 

Nerlens Noel thinks he and Ben Simmons can be a lockdown defensive duo

Nerlens Noel thinks he and Ben Simmons can be a lockdown defensive duo

GALLOWAY, N.J. — The Sixers' abundance of big men lends itself to numerous combinations in the frontcourt.

On Thursday, Nerlens Noel had his first experience playing with Ben Simmons. The center gelled with the rookie forward.

"It's a great duo, I think," Noel said following the morning practice session of training camp at Stockton University.

Noel has been paired with many big men during his career with the Sixers. Last season, he faced the challenge of playing out of position at times with Jahlil Okafor. The logjam prompted him to speak out about the current makeup of the roster (see story).

After playing with Simmons, Noel saw how the two can share the court.

"I think we complement each other very well, especially on the defensive end," Noel said. "He's definitely a lockdown type defender that digs in."

Even though Simmons has yet to play an NBA game, Noel already envisions how he can help the Sixers.

"He just plays basketball the right way," Noel said. "When your big man does that, it makes it a lot easier because he is very versatile being a point-forward type. That opens up a lot of things for him to be able to open up for his teammates."