Philadelphia 76ers

Virginia's London Perrantes ready to follow in the mold of Justin Anderson

Virginia's London Perrantes ready to follow in the mold of Justin Anderson

CAMDEN, N.J. — In the last four seasons under Tony Bennett, it's been much of the same for Virginia basketball — 23 or more wins, a top-five NCAA Tournament seed and a postseason exit, all without making a trip to the Final Four.

But for what the Cavaliers have lacked in success, they've made up for with NBA talent. After producing just five draft picks since Ralph Sampson went No. 1 overall in 1983, Virginia has churned out a trio in the last three drafts, including current Sixer Justin Anderson and a potential NBA Rookie of the Year in Milwaukee's Malcolm Brogdon.

Now the mantle falls to London Perrantes, who got the chance to show off for the Sixers Friday morning with just six days until the 2017 NBA draft in Brooklyn. Although Perrantes isn't a fixture on many mock draft boards, he's made his mark as a defensive specialist in Charlottesville the last four years, and will very likely still be on the board when the Sixers have their last couple of picks at Nos. 46 and 50.

"Just coming into college, I was a guy that tried to get everyone involved," Perrantes said. "I just want to get out and help any team win. Whatever the team needs, I think I'll be able to do that, so whether that's a couple of minutes or just going hard in practice, I feel like I can go anywhere and be ready when my number's called."

With Virginia, the Los Angeles native was primarily a defensive specialist. He set a career high with 12.7 points per game as a senior, shooting just 41.4 percent from the field. However, he was also was the Cavaliers' best defender on a team that ranked second in the nation in adjusted defensive, according to basketball stathead Ken Pomeroy.

His numbers, however, compare somewhat to his most recent predecessors in Charlottesville. Brogdon was a slightly better scorer coming out of college, translating to a stellar 2016-17 campaign with the Bucks, whereas Anderson is bigger than Perrantes and maybe even a better defender.

But given his mixture of abilities on both ends of the floor, Perrantes could be a hybrid of the two, and projects as a fringe role player that still has room to grow as a professional.

"Once you get to the next level, you're not like Virginia where it's a slow pace," he said. "Just being able to defend and knock down open shots is what we do a lot of at Virginia, so just being able to translate that and then working on your game. You're just playing basketball — there's no more school, so you get to get better and do what you love to do."

With an interesting group of second-round prospects in Friday morning, including former ACC mates Davon Reed and Jamel Artis, Perrantes had plenty of opportunities to get the ball in hands and show the Sixers' brass why he's the next Virginia product who can make a splash in the association.

"A lot of it is the Virginia system. They're very defensive-focused and a slower-paced team, so offensively, it's easy to get hidden," Sixers senior director of basketball operations Vince Rozman said. "He's actually a really, really creative guy. He can make shots. ... He's interesting."

Outside of the smaller T.J. McConnell, who was in the gym for Friday's pre-draft workout along with Joel Embiid, the Sixers don't have much depth at the point guard position. Although Ben Simmons is likely to be the team's primary ballhandler next season, the Sixers could very much use a guy like Perrantes to take on the task of defending some of the Eastern Conference's best guards.

Given that head coach Brett Brown's team will still be seeing plenty of guys like Boston's Isaiah Thomas, Cleveland's Kyrie Irving and Washington's John Wall next season, a gritty, defensive-minded guard could have a huge impact — even in limited minutes.

After talking with Anderson and getting a chance to hit the floor in the City of Brotherly Love, Perrantes feels like the Sixers could be the right match.

"I've been [at Virginia] for four years and defense is my heart. That's what I do," Perrantes said. "To be able to make it at this next level, you have to be able to play defense as well as be a good offensive player, so that's just engrained in me. It's not going anywhere."

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.