After graduating from St. Joe's, NBA draft prospect Isaiah Miles feels he could help Sixers

After graduating from St. Joe's, NBA draft prospect Isaiah Miles feels he could help Sixers

Isaiah Miles graduated from Saint Joseph’s last week … and went right to work trying to achieve his NBA dreams.

Miles came back to Philadelphia on Friday as part of the Sixers' pre-draft workouts at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (see notebook). He was less than a week removed from sandwiching his commencement in between time at the NBA Draft Combine.

"It feels great," Miles said of graduating. "Getting a degree, at the end of the day, is the most important thing. … I just wanted to do it for my mom. Walking across the stage and seeing the smile on her face was huge.

"I left the combine early to go to graduation. I came back to the combine right after graduation, so I think it will show teams my loyalty and my demeanor when it comes to school."

The Sixers are the third team the Baltimore native has worked out with, joining the Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets. Miles has at least six more lined up with trips to Houston, Dallas, Utah, San Antonio, Milwaukee and New York in his future. 

On Friday, Miles was teamed for three-on-three work with Columbia's Maodo Lo and Baylor's Taurean Prince, while mostly competing at forward against San Diego State's Winston Shepard. After the scrimmaging, Miles and the other attendees worked on shooting drills, catching and shooting off improvised screens. Miles, for one, thought he shot the ball well at the workout while stretching the floor. 

It is that shooting ability that gives Miles a chance to make an NBA roster this summer. He struggled to find minutes in his first two seasons with the Hawks before taking off, turning into a well-rounded forward averaging 18.1 points and 8.1 rebounds by his senior season. 

His prowess from deep forced mismatches for opposing defenses, but he also began to make himself a presence in the paint as well. His senior year culminated in a game-winning three in the NCAA Tournament to beat Cincinnati and get St. Joe's out of the first round for the first time in 12 years. 

So it has been quite the whirlwind for the 21-year-old. Just ask him if he thought he'd get to this moment on the cusp of becoming a professional basketball player.

"Two years ago, my sophomore year, no, I didn't think I would be here," Miles said. "But to the glory of God and his blessing, he blessed me to give me this opportunity to have an outstanding senior year and be able to try out for these NBA teams. I'm definitely happy to be here to play with the 76ers. 

"I've been here four years and I see Philly as my new home besides Balitmore, so it'd be great to play here. I gave so much time and so many years to Philadelphia. I love it here."

As for his fit in Philadelphia, the 6-foot-8 forward says he could contribute to a team with plenty of bigs already. Once again, it is his shooting that sets him apart.

"I feel like they could use an extra shooter," Miles said, "especially a big shooter that can stretch the floor and could be a mismatch problem for a lot of fours and fives."

Vince Rozman, the Sixers' director of basketball operations/scouting innovation, highlighted that Miles improved as he went through college. Coach Brett Brown mentioned Miles as a "good worker." The big man will need to continue to improve if he wants to make an NBA roster, although Brown talked through some of the alternative paths a prospect like Miles can take to the pros.

"Because we have D-League affiliates with the Sevens right down the road, our scope on how we judge people is very expansive," Brown said. "It's not in a vacuum in the NBA, so as we're making assessments, we also feel that maybe they can come up, as I said before, in a different path to ultimately being on the roster, so we're lucky in having that affiliation down the road."

One thing helping Miles along the NBA draft circuit is the presence of his St. Joe's teammate DeAndre Bembry. Bembry, who went through a workout with the Sixers earlier in the week (see story), assisted on Miles’ game-winning three-pointer in the NCAA Tournament after creating a dynamic duo with the senior all season long. Bembry advised his former teammate to "just have fun" with the session.

"It's huge," Miles said of Bembry's going through the same process. "He's my best friend, he's my brother, and it's good seeing someone who battled with you throughout the season have such success after the season's over as well as you. 

"So it's kind of a huge process and you like to see your brother do well. I'm glad me and him are able to go through the process. We're getting what we deserve from the season after having a hard-fought season."

Sixers select Markelle Fultz with No. 1 overall pick in NBA draft

Sixers select Markelle Fultz with No. 1 overall pick in NBA draft

CAMDEN, N.J. — Markelle Fultz is a Sixer.
 
What seemed highly unlikely up until last week became a reality Thursday night when the Sixers selected Fultz first overall with the pick they acquired from the Celtics.
 
The Sixers traded the third pick and a future first-round pick to move up for the 6-foot-4, 195-pound point guard out of Washington. Fultz averaged 23.2 points (47.6 percent from the field and 41.3 percent from three), 5.9 assists and 5.7 rebounds last season. He led all freshmen in the nation and the entire Pac-12 in scoring. Defensively, Fultz boasts a seven-foot wingspan. 
 
Fultz is the best fit for the Sixers among all players in the draft. The team has been in need of a go-to scorer and cannot head into next season relying on Joel Embiid when it is unclear how many games he will play. The Sixers tied with the Bulls for 24th in long-range shooting (34.0 percent), were 25th in points per game (102.4) and 27th in field goal shooting (44.2 percent). Fultz will give them instant offense. 
 
Fultz can create a dynamic backcourt duo with the 6-10 Simmons when last year's No. 1 overall pick is running the floor. This week, Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo said Simmons doesn't necessarily have to be the point guard in order to be the facilitator. 
 
"Anytime I make a selection, whether it's one or 30, you're looking for talent, character, fit," Colangelo said Monday, remaining mum on a specific player.  
 
Fultz traveled from Maryland to the Sixers' training complex in Camden, New Jersey, Saturday as trade talks heated up. He arrived wearing his own Sixers hat, later posting a photo of himself entering the training complex on Instagram. He also posed for a picture with Simmons, Embiid and Robert Covington following his workout. This image set off a social media frenzy as the group gave a glimpse into what the Sixers' future could look like.

"It would be great," Fultz said Saturday of playing for the Sixers. "Get up and down. They're big on defense, so I think the tools that I have to be a defensive player will help them get out in transition. I'm a pretty good shot blocker for a point guard, so I think helping them with that, everything will pretty much help with that."
 
The Sixers got Fultz at a relatively low price considering they kept No. 1 protections on the pick they traded. The Celtics will receive the 2018 Lakers' pick if it falls between Nos. 2 and 5. If that does not convey, the Celtics will receive the more favorable of the Sixers' and the Kings' first-round picks in 2019, as long as the better pick is not No. 1. If one of those picks in 2019 are first overall, the Celtics will get the less favorable of the two. 
 
With all these conditions, the Sixers have protected themselves from a "2013 Celtics-Nets trade" situation. That's how all of this was possible in the first place from the Celtics' side. 

Fultz is the missing piece to round out the Sixers' backcourt and foundational core. Expect them to target veterans in free agency to provide leadership for this young core. 

What is Fultz's biggest fit, though?

Perhaps the fact he thought he came up with the phrase "trust the process."

With limited roster spots, Sixers unlikely to use all 4 2nd-round picks

With limited roster spots, Sixers unlikely to use all 4 2nd-round picks

The Sixers have four second-round picks in tonight's NBA draft. It is unlikely they use all of them, and if they do, it’s not without trying to make moves. 
 
The Sixers are slated to select at Nos. 36, 39, 46 and 50. The biggest hurdle: there’s not enough room on the roster to draft and keep all of those picks.

“You’re talking about limited roster spots,” president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo said Monday. “When you include the No. 1 selection, it might be two or three spots that are in question. You look at pick No. 36 and say, ‘Is anyone on the board that could possibly crack the rotation?’ It’s unlikely, but if that presents an opportunity to select someone that we have some confidence in, sometimes players do slide through that first round and you get surprised.”
 
The team has been open about their interest in moving some of the picks for a while now. Back in May at the draft combine, Colangelo said, “It's not to say we're going to make four selections in the second round.” 
 
The Sixers have several options with those picks, for which they have received interest. One route could be packaging the picks to move up in the draft. TNT’s David Aldridge reported the Sixers were offering picks 36 and 39 to get into the 20s (see story)
 
“You could potentially package them (second-round picks) and move up to have a later first-round pick that potentially is a better fit for the current fit for the current roster,” Colangelo said Monday. “Maybe a sure fit as opposed to someone that could just be a question mark at 36.”
 
There is a strong chance the Sixers could use the pick (or picks) for a draft-and-stash situation, similar to what happened when they acquired Dario Saric, wherein a player remains with their international team for now. Last year, the Sixers selected Furkan Korkmaz at No. 26. He played in Turkey this past season and may not join the Sixers until his existing contract is up. The Sixers spent time in Europe visiting Korkmaz and also watched prospective talent while there.  
 
Other possibilities include trading out of this draft with those picks or packing them in a deal to move a current player.

In the case the Sixers use some or all of the picks, they have been hosting pre-draft workouts with projected second-round and undrafted players over the past few weeks at their training complex. 
 
“What we are doing is lining up options and alternatives for those picks and for those selections,” Colangelo said. “We want to be prepared as we are on the clock. The two-minute mark moves fast and we are going to have multiple decisions to make on draft night.”