Philadelphia 76ers

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 to hold Blue-White Scrimmage at the Palestra on Oct. 1

Sixers to hold Blue-White Scrimmage at the Palestra on Oct. 1

If you’re a die-hard Process believer who can’t wait for the Sixers' preseason opener, you’ll have a chance to see the team in action three days prior, albeit in a scrimmage.

The Sixers announced Thursday that they will be holding a Blue-White Scrimmage on Oct. 1 at the Palestra from 1-3:30 p.m. Tickets will be free to the public.

“The building strongly represents the toughness and perseverance of the city of Philadelphia and of the 76ers organization,” coach Brett Brown said.

While Joel Embiid likely won't play in the scrimmage (see story), the event is a good opportunity to see No. 1 picks Markelle Fultz and Ben Simmons. Fultz’s summer league campaign was cut short by a sprained left ankle.

The scrimmage is also an early chance to get a sense of what Brown’s rotation may look like this year, his fifth with the Sixers and first in non-tanking mode.

The preseason will begin at Wells Fargo Center on Oct. 4, against the Memphis Grizzlies. The first game of the regular season is on Oct. 18, a nationally televised contest vs. the Wizards in Washington, D.C.

Give and Go: What is the biggest challenge for Brett Brown this season?

Give and Go: What is the biggest challenge for Brett Brown this season?

With training camp starting next week, our resident basketball analysts will discuss some of the hottest topics involving the Sixers.

Running the Give and Go are CSNPhilly.com Sixers Insider Jessica Camerato and producer/reporters Matt Haughton and Paul Hudrick.

In this edition, we discuss the biggest challenge for head coach Brett Brown this season.

Camerato
For years Brett Brown has faced the challenge of piecing together a shorthanded roster to put some kind of, any kind of, rotation on the floor. This season he will have healthier players to work with, and that in itself will pose a different set of challenges.

Brown has a young roster that is eager to play. Former No. 1 pick Ben Simmons has been waiting nearly 12 months to make his NBA debut since suffering a Jones fracture on the last day of training camp. Markelle Fultz, this year’s top pick, has not played since mid-February as a student-athlete at Washington. Joel Embiid last suited up on Jan. 27 before undergoing season-ending knee surgery.

These hungry players, and it is not limited to only the three mentioned above, will want to be in the game as much as possible. Brown will be tasked with managing eagerness and anxiousness to play all while following medical guidelines and restrictions. Lineups could change from a night to night based on player availability (back-to-backs, rest, etc.). Brown will have to establish consistency and flexibility at the same time, also keeping his players on board even if they can’t be on the court as much as they would like to be.

Haughton
Brett Brown will face a whole new world as head coach of the Sixers in 2017-18. He’ll have to find a way to make a rookie backcourt work, mix contributing veterans into the fold and, for the first time in his tenure, face some semblance of pressure to win.

But Brown’s biggest obstacle next season has nothing to do with X’s and O’s or wins and losses. The coach must maintain the spirit of the process.

At first glance, you may think that has something to do with continuing to lose games for the highest possible draft pick. No, not at all. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

In Brown’s four years at the helm, the Sixers have lost a combined 253 games. Some close, some by a wide margin and far too many of the nightmarish variety.

But no matter the previous game’s score, Brown always had his players on the court for the next matchup ready to give their max effort. His ability to stay positive amid the mounting losses and still push his guys to play all out every single night is somewhat remarkable (see story). It’s what the players love about him the most.

The egos that go along with high-level talent and the pressure of playoff aspirations mean Brown is sure to encounter some new challenges. However, it may just be that process mentality that gets the Sixers fully over the process.

Hudrick
For the last four years, Brown has barely had enough healthy players to form an entire team. And even when he had healthy players, most of them were borderline D-Leaguers (now G-Leaguers, of course).

The blessing and the curse for Brown this season is having real, NBA talent up and down his roster.

Nerlens Noel is gone so the logjam at center is over, right? Nope. Embiid is your starting center and franchise cornerstone. Richaun Holmes proved last year that he is a capable backup at the pro level. Jahlil Okafor is still here and needs to prove he's healthy if the Sixers hope to move him. Oh yeah, the team also went out and signed veteran Amir Johnson away from the Celtics. The uncertainty behind Embiid's status means there will be minutes available, but how many? Bottom line: This team still has four NBA-caliber centers.

The newest challenge for Brown is an overabundance of guards/wings. With Fultz, JJ Redick and a now healthy Jerryd Bayless added to the mix, where does that leave T.J. McConnell, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Nik Stauskas, Justin Anderson and Furkan Korkmaz?

Sure, it's a nice problem to have, but figuring out the rotation on an improving roster will be the biggest challenge for Brett Brown this season.