Philadelphia 76ers

Malik Monk just a shooter? Not so fast he says after workout for Sixers

Malik Monk just a shooter? Not so fast he says after workout for Sixers

CAMDEN, N.J. — Malik Monk is regarded as the best shooter in the 2017 draft. Don't label him as only that when he enters the NBA.

"I think I can do both, combo, on and off the ball," Monk said Thursday following with his workout for the Sixers

Monk's offensive dominance spoke for itself during his single season at Kentucky. He averaged 19.8 points (45.0 percent from the field, 39.7 percent from three), 2.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists. Monk set a program record for most points scored by a freshman (754) and hit the third-most three-pointers by any Wildcat in a single season (104).

And yet, he's not relying on his scoring when he enters the NBA. Nor were the Sixers focusing solely on that skill set as they eye prospects for the third overall pick. The Sixers will have a need for versatile backcourt players next season with 6-foot-10 Ben Simmons running the point. Simmons watched Monk's workout with Joel Embiid and Robert Covington. 

"I think the hope is that you can grow him. At his size, he's got to be a combo," vice president of basketball administration and 87ers general manager Brandon Williams said. "Particularly in today's NBA, you need players that can play multiple positions. So beyond the shooting is how much of shot creation for others does he have in his game."

Monk participated in an individual workout in which he competed against members of the Sixers' coaching staff. During the portion available to the media, Monk often found others in traffic and didn't take his shot off the first pass.

"Not that many people have seen my passing abilities," Monk said. "I think they're pretty good. I get people involved just like people can get me involved."

The Sixers wanted to observe Monk's creativity on the dribble and how he finished at the basket with both hands. Monk said he was born with a broken right collarbone, which forced him to learn the use of his left hand in addition to his right shooting hand. 

"Could he do some things in tight spaces?" Williams said. "We wanted to see him challenged by shot blockers, trying to simulate that a little bit. We got a chance to see him use both hands, finishing at the basket. There's at least creativity to try some nice floaters with both hands, and those things guys get better at over time."

A full workout wouldn't be complete without evaluating both ends of the floor. 

"This may be the first time that a shooter has done so much defense in a workout, but really important to see a full suite of skills," Williams said. 

Monk, who's only 19, said his biggest area of improvement is how much he will need to learn about the NBA. He is ready to take on the challenge of guarding NBA players with his 6-foot-4, 197-pound build. 

"People always are going to say what they want," Monk said (more on that here). "Some people said I couldn't play off the ball when I went to Kentucky. I think I did a pretty good job at that. I've just got to adjust and get in the weight room."

Monk already has worked out for the Suns (fourth pick), Magic (sixth) and Knicks (eighth) before coming to Philadelphia on Tuesday. He hasn't worked out for the Celtics (first) or Lakers (second) and does not have any other teams scheduled. 

When asked if he believed he could be selected third overall, Monk showed the jovial personality he demonstrated the entire interview.

"I think I can go one, two, three. I think I can, but I'm probably not," he said with a laugh.  

Another player who could get the Sixers' attention at No. 3 is Monk's college teammate De'Aaron Fox. 

"He's coming Saturday," Monk said. "I talk to him every day. We don't even talk about the workouts. We just talk about the process and how much fun we're having."

The Sixers will work out six more players on Friday in between the two Wildcats (see story)

Joel Embiid's and Ben Simmons' 2017-18 NBA MVP odds

Joel Embiid's and Ben Simmons' 2017-18 NBA MVP odds

The odds are in for the 2017-18 NBA MVP and a pair of Sixers are in the mix.

Joel Embiid’s odds are 50/1 while Ben Simmons’ are 66/1, according to Bovada.

Russell Westbrook is the frontrunner at 7/2. Kevin Durant (9/2), Kawhi Leonard (13/2), LeBron James (15/2) and James Harden (8/1) round out the top five.

At 50/1, Embiid has the same odds as DeMar DeRozan, Kyrie Irving and Damian Lillard. Embiid always jokes he wants to be a point guard one day, now he’s in the same company as some of the best in the league in this case. 

Embiid’s odds are better than Draymond Green (60/1). Simmons follows behind Green at 66/1, ahead of Gordon Hayward (70/1), Carmelo Anthony (75/1), Jimmy Butler (75/1), and Andrew Wiggins (75/1). 

Embiid only has played 31 games and Simmons has not played at all, yet they are right up there with All-Stars and proven players. Here’s the complete list:

Russell Westbrook (OKC)            7/2 
Kevin Durant (GS)                       9/2
Kawhi Leonard (SAN)                 13/2 
LeBron James (CLE)                   15/2
James Harden (HOU)                   8/1
Giannis Antetokounmpo (MIL)   17/2
Steph Curry (GS)                         11/1
Anthony Davis (NOP)                 16/1 
Paul George (OKC)                     25/1 
Chris Paul (HOU)                        25/1 
Isaiah Thomas (BOS)                  25/1 
DeMarcus Cousins (NOP)          33/1 
Karl-Anthony Towns (MIN)       33/1 
John Wall (WAS)                        33/1
Blake Griffin (LAC)                   40/1 
Nikola Jokic (DEN)                    40/1 
DeMar Derozan (TOR)               50/1
Joel Embiid (PHI)                       50/1 
Kyrie Irving (CLE)                     50/1 
Damian Lillard (POR)                50/1 
Draymond Green (GS)               60/1 
Ben Simmons (PHI)                   66/1 
Gordon Hayward (BOS)            70/1 
Carmelo Anthony (NYK)          75/1 
Jimmy Butler (MIN)                  75/1 
Andrew Wiggins (MIN)             75/1 
Kevin Love (CLE)                     100/1 
Kyle Lowry (TOR)                    100/1 
Kristaps Porzingis (NYK)         100/1 
Marc Gasol (MEM)                   150/1
Paul Millsap (DEN)                   150/1 
Kemba Walker (CHA)               150/1 
Bradley Beal (WAS)                  200/1 
Mike Conley (MEM)                 200/1 
Dirk Nowitzki (DAL)                250/1 
Andre Drummond (DET)          250/1 
Dwight Howard (CHA)             250/1 
Jeff Teague (MIN)                     250/1
Hassan Whiteside (MIA)          250/1

Sixers Mailbag: Joel Embiid back-to-backs and toughest opponents

Sixers Mailbag: Joel Embiid back-to-backs and toughest opponents

The release of the NBA schedule is a highly-anticipated announcement every summer. Now we know what the next 82 matchups will look like for the Sixers, and there is so much to discuss regarding their opponents, road vs. home contests and frequency of games.

One of the most popular questions I received was about individual tickets for home games. Those will go on sale in September. Ticket information for the Jan. 18 game in London is available here.

Thanks to those who submitted questions with #CSNSixersMailbag.

When the schedule was released, I first looked to see the home opener. Then I counted the number of back-to-backs, of which there are 14.

The number of consecutive games is significant for the Sixers because of the restrictions placed on Joel Embiid last season. Embiid did not play both games during his rookie year, his first after recovering from injuries.

I expect the Sixers will have a back-to-back restriction on Embiid again this season. Perhaps not every time — I wouldn’t be surprised it if they tried to get a sense of where he is at with conditioning and workload — but the majority of the season. I put my prediction at Embiid playing in two back-to-back series.

I would think Simmons would face similar restrictions in his rookie season as Embiid did, and I would not be surprised if Simmons does not play in any back-to-backs. The Sixers have yet to see how he performs in an NBA game. They are going to be extremely cautious with the 2016 No. 1 pick when he makes his debut after suffering a Jones fracture last year in training camp.

The Sixers will take a closer look at these situations during training camp once they get to see both of them on the court. When it comes to the health of Embiid and Simmons, it’s all about the career longevity, not a race to play 82 regular season games.

The Sixers' schedule is a tale of two seasons: Western Conference vs. Eastern Conference. They will play 11 games against the West by Nov. 22, including twice against the Rockets, Warriors and Trail Blazers in less than a month. Meanwhile, the second half of the season includes only four Western Conference opponents.

Those aren’t the only early challenges. The Sixers open the season facing some of the best teams in the East, with the Wizards, Celtics and Raptors three games in a row. They encounter another tough Eastern Conference stretch in late November against the Cavaliers, Wizards and Celtics (on a back-to-back).

So what does all this mean for their record? The Sixers are positioned to improve, and despite these challenges I still expect them to make the playoffs. There will be a lot of bumps in the road early on, though, with a new team — a young team at that — learning to play together. So if they start out struggling against this stacked lineup of opponents, that won’t be cause for panic. The Sixers have a lot of areas in which they will need to grow and these matchups will be a good test for them. It is more beneficial to face these teams early on than coast through an easy schedule for the first few months, get comfortable playing against lesser competitions and then run into these contenders.

The second half of the season favors the Sixers if they are making a run at a playoff berth. Among their opponents, they play the Nets three times in a month and the Hawks twice in two weeks to close out the regular season.

The games in this question are Nov. 11 at Warriors, Nov. 13 at Clippers, Nov. 15 at Lakers and Nov. 18 vs. Warriors at home compared to Nov. 27 vs. Cavaliers at home, Nov. 29 vs. Wizards at home and Nov. 30 at Celtics.

I am going with the Western Conference matchups.

The three games in this question are part of a five-game road trip that runs Nov. 7 through Nov. 15 with the first two games in Salt Lake City and Sacramento. The Sixers will be facing the defending champions at Oracle Arena, where the Warriors went 36-5 last regular season.

From there they will go to the Staples Center. That game against the Lakers will be just as much about basketball as it will be about the Lonzo and LaVar Ball storylines. Based on the Summer League crowd in Las Vegas, I’m sure Lakers fans will be ready for this one. It will be a test of focus for the Sixers.

Then it’s welcome back home to face the Warriors again. I don’t know many teams that want to play the Warriors twice in eight days.