Progress Report: Analyzing the Sixers' Individual Improvements and Needs for Growth in 2012

Progress Report: Analyzing the Sixers' Individual Improvements and Needs for Growth in 2012

For the Philadelphia 76ers, the suspense of the 2011-12 season wasn't in
seeing how the Sixers would integrate new pieces or adjust to a new
coach or offensive scheme or overcome the loss of a key player or
anything like that—aside from the drafting of rookie big in Nikola Vucevic
and the shipping out of disgruntled backup forward Marreese Speights,
this is the exact same squad as last year. What really held interest for
the team's fans was in seeing how the returning players—many of whom
are young and still early on in their development as players—continued
to grow their games, both collectively and individually. In the midst of
the lockout, did our guys put in the necessary work to improve their
respective games and help take this team to the next level?

Eight games into the season, we've got a pretty good idea of where
our guys are at, so let's take a look at our eight key returning players
in alphabetical order—don't bother getting up, Andres and Tony—and see
where players have improved, where they've regressed, and what they
should continue to be working on.

Elton Brand:

Improved: Though his per
game numbers are down across the board due to his decreased PT, Elton's
rebound rate has actually improved this year, with the 32-year-old power
forward averaging over ten rebounds per 36 minutes, and battling for
just about every ball off the glass.

Regressed: There's no denying that Elton's scoring has taken a
huge dip from last season, though he atoned for a lot of that with his
stellar performance against the Kings lost night. A lot of that is
opportunity, since as previously mentioned, his minutes are down from 35
a game last year to only about 26 this year, and a lot of it is the
increased role Spencer Hawes has played in the offense recently. But
Elton's also just been less effective—his field goal percentage has
dropped from 51% to about 48%, and he's taking a higher percentage of
his shots away from the basket—a stunning 89% of his shots this season
have been jumpers, up from 76% last year, and his numbers from just
about anywhere on the court besides at the rim are significantly worse
than they were in '10-'11.

Needs to Work On: Just sticking that jumper, like he was last
night, and keeping up with the rebounding. Team improvement elsewhere
means we don't need Elton to be as much of a scoring option as he was
last season, when he averaged a team-high 15 points a game on 51%
shooting and was essentially the Sixers' MVP for the season. If he can
just be consistent in the areas he can help the team, and remain a solid
leader off the court, that's good enough—next year he becomes an
expiring contract anyway, and likely far more valuable to the team as
such.

Spencer Hawes:

Improved: Where
to start? Spencer's offensive game is virtually unrecognizable from
where it was at this point last year—he's gotten craftier around the
basket, honing his back-to-the-basket post game and developing close
range scoop and hook shots, and he's become an absolute machine from
range, draining jumpers with impunity and becoming absolutely deadly in
the pick-and-pop. He's also gotten better at subtle offensive things
like providing good back screens to give three-point shooters space and
looking for the high-low pass with fellow post presence Elton Brand
(though the chemistry is still something of a work in progress there.)
His numbers are off the charts compared to they were last year in just
about every respect, and he's among the league leaders in field goal
percentage with his 62%, with last night's 0-1 marking his first game
shooting under 50%.

As if all that wasn't enough, he's also improved considerably on the
other end of the court, most notably in his rebounding. He's become a
smarter and tougher rebounder, picking his spots better and getting his
hands on the ball to try to tap it to teammates when he can't corral the
boards himself. He's a real threat to average a double-double this
year, and he's averaging about two more rebounds per 36 minutes than the
guy he was traded for, the far more established Samuel Dalembert, is
this year in Houston. So often, the Most Improved Player race comes down
to guys who are basically the same player as they always were, but were
given more minutes or greater exposure to do their thing. If Spence
wins this year—and he's certainly a candidate early on—it's because he
will legitimately have improved in just about every respect. Fun to
experience.

Regressed: Uh, well he's still yet to hit a three this year
in three tries, after shooting a smoldering 24% from deep last year.
It's something, anyway.

Needs to Work On: If you want to
nitpick, The Unibrow's work at the charity stripe still leaves much to
be desired. It's not so much his free-throw percentage—60% through eight
games, which obviously isn't great—as much as it is that he never gets
there, shooting just ten free throws so far this season. For a guy who's
quickly turning into one of the team's greatest offensive threats (I
know, right?), that's a pretty lackluster rate, and to take the next
step as a scorer, he's gotta figure out a way to get to the line and
pick up some cheap points that way.

More importantly, Spence needs to just work on staying healthy—his
back, which kept him out for most of the early season last year, has
started acting up again, and forcing Collins to play him limited
minutes. He should probably sit out tonight against the Knicks, and
maybe take a couple other games off here and there to ensure he's in
decent shape for the season's stretch run and (hopefully) the
post-season.

Jrue Holiday:

Improved: Jrue's been
extra nice around the basket this season, and he's learned to use the
glass with a craftiness that few point guards—few guards of any stripe,
really—have in their arsenal. He's also stepped up as the team's most
reliable big-shot maker, hitting game-sealing threes at key moments in a
couple games so far this season.

Regressed: While the big shots have been nice, on average,
his outside stroke has mostly been a little off-kilter so far this
season—it would have been nice during Jodie Meeks' struggles to see Jrue
step into the role of knockdown shooter, which I believe him capable of
filling, but it just hasn't been there yet. His assist numbers are also
down, from 6.6 last season to just under 5 this season, but again, with
so many ball-handlers in this offense, you can't get too upset about
Jrue not being able to pad his stats in that area.

Needs to Work On: Commanding the ball in late-game
situations. There's no one on this team I trust with his ball in his
hands in the waning minutes as much as I trust Jrue, who has proven his
cold-bloodedness on several occasions (without slamming it down our
throats the way Sweet Lou does), but he still shows a little hesitance
to be That Guy for the Sixers. He also just needs to show more
confidence in taking open threes when set up for them—too often this
season, Jrue has driven or passed out of such opportunities, rarely
resulting in a better scoring chance than what The Damaja originally
had. He's gonna be the team's best guy sooner rather than later, and he
should start acting like it.

Andre Iguodala:

Improved: It's been
pretty feast or famine with Andre Iguodala from the field this year, but
at least he's taking less twos this season and more threes, where he's
been fairly effective on average, shooting about 47% from deep.

Regressed: The assists are down a little from last year,
though that's more a function of him being used less in the offense as a
point forward (in favor of primary ball-handlers Jrue Holiday, Evan
Turner and Lou Williams) than anything he's doing wrong. After a hot
start, his shooting is dropping precipitously, but in the end it'll
probably average out to about where it's always been for 'Dre.

Needs to Work On: Not being a hero. So far, 'Dre hasn't had
to do much final-possession work, which is unquestionably a good thing,
though he did hit a big turnaround jumper against the Pacers a few
nights ago with about a minute left, but it's better to see him serve as
a last-ditch option in the half-court and an occasional drive-and-kick
guy than as the legitimate centerpiece of the offense, which is always
going to be a crapshoot.

Jodie Meeks:

Improved: Uh. Well, he's not killing the team on defense anyway.

Regressed:
Where's the shot been, Jodie? It shows up on occasion—Meeks' hot
shooting clinched that game against Detroit for the Sixers, and helped
them blow it open against the Kings last night—but otherwise, it's just
been MIA, and Jodie's not the kind of all-around player that can still
be a contributor when the shot's not falling. Under 40% from the field,
just 34% from three—that's not gonna cut it for our team's starting two
guard. Since Doug Collins likes the balance he provides to the starting
lineup, he's probably not gonna lose his SG1 spot to Evan Turner (who's
yet to hit a three all year) anytime soon, but there's no doubt he's
been the team's weak link so far this season.

Needs to Work On: OK, as bad as Jodie's been from range, it
hasn't been nearly as frustrating as how bad he is on the break. Nobody
on this team can screw up an odd-man rush quite like Jodie, who lacks
any kind of passing instincts and is very OK with taking on two
defenders on the way to the hoop. Collins should spend a good 20 minutes
of each practice with Meeks practicing 2-on-1s and 3-on-2s with him
until he shows the ability to make the most rudimentary of correct
decisions in the full court.

Evan Turner:

Improved: First and foremost, Evan has learned what not
to do on the court—he doesn't try to beat his man off the dribble
anymore and get stuffed, he doesn't go hurtling into traffic and get his
shot blocked, he doesn't fall for pump-fakes and pick up cheap fouls,
and he doesn't get too far up on his man and get totally smoked en route
to the hoop (no Zumoff). Eliminating the rookie mistakes from his game
has allowed him to be a real contributor off the bench, upping his
scoring (both in total points and efficiency), his rebounding and his
assist numbers in the process. He's shown real craftiness around the
basket, using his sneaky quickness to dive in for easy layups and his
deceptiveness off the dribble to create space for his jumpers, and he's
shown real chemistry with his teammates, running the pick-and-roll
brilliantly with Hawes and Vucevic and hitting Thaddeus Young for a
couple lovely finishes on the break. And his rebounding has been perhaps
his greatest asset this season, crashing the boards (grabbing about six
a game, among the most of NBA guards) and then initiating the offense
quickly as the team's primary ball-handler.

There's no doubt that Spencer Hawes has been the team's most
improved player this season, absolutely night and day from where he was
last year. But Evan Turner has been a close second, and even if he may
never quite live up to that #2 pick, worries about him being a bust are
starting to fall by the wayside.

Regressed: The major criticism of the Extraterrestrial in his
second season is that his outside jumper, which he was said to have
been working on all off-season with shooting doctor Herb McGee, doesn't
seem to have improved much—the further Evan gets from the basket, the
exponentially worse his shooting numbers become, and as previously
mentioned, he hasn't hit a single three all year. The good news, at
least, is that he's taking them less—he's only hoisted seven threes all
year, and a much higher percentage of his FG attempts have come around
the rim this season than his rookie year. His free throw shooting has
also been subpar to start the season, though a small sample size is
almost certainly the culprit on that one, and he made all four against
the Kings last night.

Needs to Work On: Getting that jumper down. He'll never be a
reliable starting two-guard in this league without at least an average
outside stroke, and if he wants an increased role on this
team—especially if, God forbid, they ever actually trade Iguodala—he
needs to prove he can knock down open baseline jumpers and threes from
the wing and the like.

Lou Williams:

Improved: Well, Williams
is basically the same player he's always been, but I should probably
take this opportunity to give The Boss some credit for what he's done so
far this year. I don't talk about Sweet Lou as much as I should
perhaps, because I find him so frustrating to root for some times, but
there's no doubt he's been big for the Sixers this year, leading the
team in points and PER, maintaining a decent FG% and assist to turnover
ratio while getting to the line (and converting once there) at a far
greater rate than anyone else on the team. We wouldn't be where we are
right now without Lou Williams, and it's time for me to acknowledge
that.

Regressed: That being said, there's one aspect of Lou's game
that continues to infuriate me: His need to dominate every
end-of-quarter possession. Part of the blame must go to Collins for
enabling him—really, how he got any burn at all last night after that
hoisting that pathetic excuse for a two-for-one three (ensuring them a
possession of three seconds after the Kings scored on the other end) is
beyond me. But it happens every time—Lou sees the clock winding down,
decides this is the Sweetness Hour, and ends up taking a contested three
or fadeaway jumper as the clock expires. He never scores on it.
It's like he thinks every final possession is one of those possessions
where there's only four seconds left and he has to chuck it as quickly
and haphazardly as possible. It's like he thinks every final possession
is one of those possessions
where there's only four seconds left and he has to chuck it as quickly
and haphazardly as possible, even if there's a full 24 on the clock.
But, sure enough, as the next quarter is ending, guess who's got the
ball again? I don't get it. I just don't get it.

Needs to Work On: Getting horse-collared by one of his
teammates on the bench any time there's less than a half-minute left in
the quarter. Otherwise, he's about as good and reliable a sixth man as
the team could ask for.

Thaddeus Young:

Improved: The offense
was there for Thad last season as well, but the defense feels much
improved. Everyone's favorite announcer Malik Rose has often expressed
his appreciation for Thad's footwork on the defensive end, and
deservedly so, as he's shown an incredibly ability to stay with some
skilled offensive players on the block without getting burned—not to
mention all the charges he's picked up by anticipating what spots on the
court he needs to get to, and beating his man there. With his improved D
and the usual offensive arsenal—the running flip-shot across the lane,
the jab-step-and-drive, the ability to get out on the break and finish
with the best of them—five years, $42 million seems like a bargain.

Regressed: If only he had a jumper. Thad did hit a couple
against the Pacers the other night, but elsewhere this season he just
hasn't looked comfortable away from the basket, and his FG% stats
plummet the further he drifts from the hoop. He's a valuable player even
without the range—and no one's suggesting he starting chucking threes
again like he did in the Eddie Jordan era— but if he did have a reliable
touch from 10-15 feet, he could be a star.

Needs to Work On: The jumper would be nice, of course, though
if he wanted to concentrate on perfecting that running flip-shot, that
could be a pretty valuable tool as well.

Jim Schwartz's defense path was molded, in part, by Jevon Kearse

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Jim Schwartz's defense path was molded, in part, by Jevon Kearse

Jim Schwartz is famous for his use of the wide-9 alignment and the 4-3 defense in general. That's the scheme he's had success with in the NFL. That's what he brings to the Eagles.

Yet somewhere in an alternate universe, Schwartz is coaching a 3-4 defense right now, all because the Tennessee Titans never drafted Jevon Kearse.

OK, that might be a stretch considering Schwartz learned under coaches such as Marvin Jones and Gregg Williams, who are also known for the 4-3. Then again, the Eagles' defensive coordinator revealed when he was hired by the Titans as an assistant in 1999, the defense was actually using quite a bit of 3-4. Kearse changed everything, and is in part responsible for Schwartz's preference in scheme to this day.

"When I first went to Tennessee, we based out of a lot of 3-4, but it probably came from just the personnel we had," Schwartz recalled.

"We drafted Jevon Kearse. There was a line of thought that Jevon Kearse was gonna be a 3-4 outside linebacker or he was gonna be a defensive end. We decided to try to make it as simple as we could for him, put him at one spot and just let him attack and rush the passer and let him play the edge.

"We had some success with that, then found other guys in the scheme that fit."

Some success is putting it mildly.

Eagles fans might best remember Kearse for four injury-prone seasons between 2004-07 where he failed to live up to a massive free-agent contract, totaling just 22 sacks. As a first-round pick in 1999, however, "The Freak" burst on to the scene with 14.5 sacks, earning Defensive Rookie and Player of the Year honors en route to the first of three consecutive invitations to the Pro Bowl. Kearse had accumulated 47.5 sacks after five seasons in Tennessee.

Kearse's final trip to the Pro Bowl came under Schwartz, who ascended to defensive coordinator in 2001, a post he held until being name head coach of the Detroit Lions in '09. Afterward, he served one year as defensive coordinator for the Bills. In 14 NFL seasons, Schwartz has coached eight different linemen to double-digit sack seasons.

Some of that production is the result of a system that allows linemen like Kearse to play fast and attack.

"Philosophically, the thing that's guiding that has been try to make it as simple as we can," Schwartz said.

"It's a coach's job to make a complex scheme simple for the players. It's our job to make it so that they can digest it. There's a lot of things that are going on, on the field — offensive tempo, different personnel groups and formations — there's a million different things going on and they have to process all that stuff. Our job is to streamline the information and allow them to play fast, give them confidence."

Through his experiences, Schwartz has come to believe the 4-3 defense — when equipped with the right personnel up front — is the best method to attack offenses in today's NFL.

"I think that the other part of the 4-3 is when you can affect the passer with four guys, you're not forced to blitz to get pressure on the quarterback, you're in a very good position," he said. "I've been there before when you can't get pressure and you have to blitz — it's not a great feeling. You want to blitz on your terms. You want to be able to blitz when you want to, when the situation is right, not, 'We can't get any pass rush unless we do it.

"So allowing those guys to keep it simple, to be able to pressure with four and not make yourself skinnier so to speak in coverage can also take some big plays away from offenses."

It's difficult to argue with the results. Schwartz has three previous stints as either a defensive coordinator or head coach in the NFL, during which his units have four top-10 finishes in yards allowed as well as a pair of top-five rankings in points surrendered. Perhaps most impressive of all are the three occasions where Schwartz's defense finished third the league in takeaways.

Schwartz inherits plenty of talent on the Eagles defense, particularly along the defensive line. Connor Barwin has twice attained doubled-digit sacks in a season, while Fletcher Cox and Vinny Curry have both eclipsed nine. Brandon Graham and Marcus Smith are former first-round picks too.

Don't expect this defense to look identical to what Schwartz has done at previous stops, though. While he may be known for a particular approach or brand of football, Schwartz plans to tailor the Eagles' defense to the personnel he has, just like the Titans did with Kearse in Tennessee all those years ago.

"Every year will be a little bit different," Schwartz said. "Our terminology is a little bit different, cast of characters is a little different, and if we're on the right track, we'll put the players in the best position to best use their talents.

"What we did in Buffalo was a little different than what we did in Detroit, which was a little different from what we did in Tennessee, but it's all designed to try to make the most of what you have."

Phillie Phodder: The Ryan Howard drama, trade chips and bat flips

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Phillie Phodder: The Ryan Howard drama, trade chips and bat flips

CHICAGO — The Phillies are here for what figures to be the toughest test thus far in their surprising break from the starting gate — three games against the Chicago Cubs, a team built to win the World Series and so far looking as if it can do just that. The Cubs were the first team to reach 30 wins this season, are 14-6 at home, and averaging a National League-best 5.69 runs per game, over two more than the 3.3 runs the Phillies are putting on the board per contest.

The series will be interesting even beyond the test the Phillies will receive because we could see another progression in the raging Ryan Howard drama.

In Tommy Joseph, the Phillies have a player worthy of taking away playing time from the struggling Howard. Joseph started at first base the last three games in Detroit, hit in the middle of the lineup and did so with authority. Phillies management is on record as saying it needs an injection of offense to support the good pitching the team has gotten. If it is committed to that idea, then Joseph needs to keep playing. He will start Friday afternoon against lefty Jon Lester. He should start again on Saturday and Sunday when the Phillies face right-handed pitchers.

Will he?

The guess here is that Joseph starts one of the weekend games with Howard getting the other. That right there would be a continuation of the phasing out of Howard from the lineup. If Joseph delivers against right-handed pitching, the Phillies owe it to their fans and the players who have put together this quick and entertaining start to keep playing him.

But this whole drama remains a sticky situation on a lot of levels. Howard is not walking away from the more than $25 million that remains on his contract and he shouldn’t. But there’s no way he’s going to be happy sitting on the bench and it’s difficult to envision him contributing as a reserve player/bat off the bench. He has a tough enough time making contact while getting regular at-bats. How’s he going to hold up as a reserve?

Poorly.

If Joseph continues to emerge, the Phillies will have to consider releasing Howard. Either that or they ride out the final four months of his contract with him sitting on the bench. Neither solution is comfortable. As one of the franchise’s greatest players and a champion, Howard is going to end up on the team’s Wall of Fame someday and it would be nice if he showed up at the induction. Would a release sour his relationship with the organization forever? It’s a factor that the Phillies can consider because they are still in a rebuild and, as well as they’ve played so far, it’s tough to see them staying in contention for the long haul. If this team was projected to win, then it’s a different story. If there was ever a year to suck it up and let Howard leave with dignity, it’s this one. But if carrying Howard as a reserve leads to a cumbersome situation in a young clubhouse, maybe parting is the best solution.

Regardless of the endgame, Joseph needs to keep getting regular at-bats because the baseball still matters.

                                                                      ***

While Odubel Herrera’s three-run home run and subsequent bat flip dominated Wednesday’s win over Detroit, several other players made contributions. Andres Blanco, with his typical booster shot of energy, plus two hits, an RBI, two runs scored and the team’s first steal of home since 2009, was one of them. Jeanmar Gomez, who only out of Pete Mackanin’s desperation got a shot at closer in early April, was another with his 17th save.

If the Phillies’ lack of offense catches up with them and they fall out of the race, Blanco and Gomez could be trade chips for the team. Blanco’s ability to come off the bench and contribute on both sides of the ball could be attractive to a team that is ready to win in October. He won’t bring back a game-breaking talent, but it would be worth taking a chance on a young minor-league arm, a lottery ticket, that could ultimately develop into something.

Gomez’s big season has the feel of lightning in a bottle. He’s done a terrific job getting saves without typical closer’s stuff. He relies on touch, feel, location and pitching savvy. He makes hitters get themselves out. How long can it last? Who knows? But Gomez deserves kudos and very well could ride his unexpected success to a spot in the All-Star Game. Shortly after that, if the Phillies are out of the race, the front office should look to cash in on his unforeseen value, which will never be higher, and deal him to one of the many teams that will be looking for bullpen help. Gomez could help a contender in the seventh, eighth or ninth inning and if he keeps pitching well, might bring back a decent return.

Jeremy Hellickson and Carlos Ruiz could also be trade chips in July — if the Phils fall out of the race. We talked about that recently with Ruiz.

If the Phils stay in the race, the front office would probably have to hang on to at least several of these players. Trading players, even role players, could send a bad message to fans if the team still has a chance at the postseason. The exception would be Hellickson. It could make sense to deal him either way and use his departure as an opportunity to bring up the next young arm from the minors. Hellickson has pitched well lately and it would benefit the team in more ways that one if he continued to do so.

Switching over to the glass-half-full side … there is a chance the Phillies will pursue a bat to boost their anemic offense, but the decision to even make that move is still a ways away. Matt Klentak made it pretty clear that he needs to see more from this club over the next month or so before he goes after a bat in a trade. And Klentak is not about to compromise the rebuild to add a bat for short-term contribution. In other words, he’s not about to trade away prospects for outfield bats that might get in the way of Nick Williams, Roman Quinn or Dylan Cozens rising to the majors in the next year. The Phillies do have money. If an opposing team wants to move an expiring contract — someone like a Jay Bruce — and it would cost the Phillies more on the money side than the prospect side, that could be a fit for the Phillies.

If they stay in the race.

                                                                      ***

Getting to Herrera’s bat flip … it was fun. And this scribe believes the kid when he says it was natural. But there’s risk involved in something like that. Herrera is a kid that loves to play the game and loves to be on the field. But he needs to beware that if he flips his bat on the wrong guy, he’s going to end up with a broken batting helmet or a broken rib. You can talk about new-school ways and making the game fun again — as if it ever stopped being fun — but pitchers are competitors and they don’t like being shown up, be it intentional or not. They didn’t in the old school and they don’t in the new school. This scribe loves players who play with emotion, energy and exuberance, and there’s nothing wrong with celebrating your successes. Heck, Babe Ruth used to tip his hat rounding the bases. But there is a limit. Herrera is the Phillies’ best player and he has a responsibility to stay on the field. He might want to think twice before he goes with a “big air” bat flip on his next home run because if he does it on the wrong pitcher, he might get hurt.

NBA draft profile: F Brandon Ingram

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NBA draft profile: F Brandon Ingram

Brandon Ingram

Position: Forward

Height: 6-9

Weight: 196

School: Duke

For months, Ben Simmons seemed to be a lock for the No. 1 pick. There was little competition for the LSU forward, who had been highly touted for years. Then came Brandon Ingram. The long, lanky forward emerged during his freshman (and only) season at Duke to make the top selection a legitimate two-player debate.

Ingram averaged 17.3 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 34.6 minutes per game. He scored 20 points or more in each of the fourth-ranked Blue Devils’ tournament games before they were eliminated in the Sweet 16.

Here’s the biggest intrigue with Ingram: He’s only 18 years old. After coming on this strong as a freshman, his potential is one of his largest draws.

The Sixers met with Ingram at the draft combine and have attended a private workout held by his agency.

Strengths
Ingram set himself apart with his ability to shoot. He made 41.0 percent from three (80 of 195), an impressive mark for a player his size. Ingram also shot 44.2 percent from the field. He doesn’t rely on his outside game, attacking the basket as well to create a versatile offensive package.

Ingram’s length allows him to get his hands on the ball all over the court. With a 7-foot-3 wingspan, Ingram can fight over opponents for rebounds and loose balls. On the defensive end, his size creates mismatches, including on the perimeter. As bigs expand their shots away from the basket, Ingram can chase his opponents out to the wing. 

His 2.0 assists per game don’t tell the whole story of his passing abilities. Ingram has a high basketball IQ and sees the floor to create for his teammates.

Weaknesses
Ingram has to develop an NBA body. Playing his position at less than 200 pounds, he will get bounced around by other bigs. By putting on muscle, he will be able to play tougher defense at the basket.

Ingram can improve his all-around defensive skillset. He has shown he can rebound, but his overall consistency and intensity stands to be amped up in the pros.

Ingram can also improve his free throws after shooting 68.2 percent from the line at Duke.

How he'd fit with the Sixers
The Sixers don’t have a consistent go-to scoring option. Ingram could fulfill that role as the top offensive weapon. Being only 18, he would be part of the Sixers’ young foundation they could develop over time. His athleticism would help facilitate an uptempo system that maximizes their youth to get up and down the court. Brett Brown emphasizes his desire for two-way players and Ingram could contribute on both ends.

NBA comparison
Ingram has been compared to Kevin Durant. Think long and lanky for the position with the offensive skills to be a scoring threat. Ingram also has been likened to Tayshaun Prince, who had a decent NBA career but wasn't an MVP candidate like Durant.

Draft projection
Ingram is in the mix for being the No. 1 pick. If the Sixers go with Simmons at the top spot, expect the Lakers to take Ingram at two.