All of Sixers' flaws on display in loss to Kings

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All of Sixers' flaws on display in loss to Kings

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In a season filled with blowout losses, turnover-plagued debacles and piles upon piles of missed shots, Wednesday night’s 115-98 defeat to the Sacramento Kings at the Wells Fargo Center was the personification of all of it.

Barely mixed up into a sloppy gumbo, the Sixers’ flaws were on full display against the Kings. Brett Brown’s players committed turnovers and fouls. They missed shots from beyond the three-point arc and right next to the rim (see Instant Replay).

In fact, the Sixers did all of those things during the same possession, pulling off some sort of disturbing trifecta that left the coach scratching his head. During one inexplicable sequence during the third quarter, Henry Sims grabbed a rebound from a missed three-pointer, clunked the layup off the rim and then looked on as Michael Carter-Williams repeated the entire process all over again.

Rebound, miss, rebound … repeat.

“We missed a lot of shots. Right at the rim,” Brown said. “It gets deflating, that’s part of the game, but what do you say? Time and time and time again we’re right at the rim and you have a chance to hang around and stay in the game and we just missed a lot of layups.”

The Sixers missed 10 shots in the paint during the third quarter and nine of those were inside of four feet from the rim. They missed 24 shots inside the paint for the game, along with 15 missed three-pointers and 20 turnovers.

Yes, we knew it was going to be a rough season. Brown warned everyone that the rebuilding process could get a bit objectionable when he took the gig in August. But did Brown imagine it was going to look like Wednesday night’s loss?

“You take the turnovers and the missed layups and you look at the difference in fouls and inch by inch the game got away from us,” Brown said.

Oh yeah, did we mention the fouls? The Sixers were whistled for 31 fouls that led to 50 free throw attempts for the Kings. Veteran Rudy Gay went 16 for 19 from the line to set career bests. Additionally, the Kings set a Wells Fargo Center record for makes and attempts by going 26 for 31 from the line in the first half.

Indeed, when the Sixers go bad, they set records.

“When you know what’s going to happen and you live it day by day, it’s different,” Brown said. “It doesn’t dampen anything, it’s just a certain type of reality. It’s not doom and gloom.”

Nevertheless, the losses have piled up in near historical fashion. The Sixers’ 18 straight losses are two away from tying the franchise record set during the 9-73 1972-73 season. In sewing up the 14th straight defeat at home, the Sixers broke the franchise mark that was set over two seasons in 1972.

Meanwhile, the Sixers are eight losses away from breaking the all-time NBA record for consecutive defeats set by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2010-11. If the trend continues, the Sixers could tie the record in Houston on March 27 and break it at home against Detroit on March 29.

If the Sixers keep it going, how are the players going to deal with it? The young players don’t know anything else, but a veteran like Thad Young isn’t going to stomach it well.

“I’ve always been a guy who hated losing and it’s been tough taking loss after loss,” Young said. “You just have to keep going out there and grind it out.”

Young said he believes the Sixers will get a win sooner rather than later, but one has to wonder if the Sixers aren’t fated to set the record. Leading by nine during the first half and trailing by four at the half, one had the sense that the Sixers would implode.

Sure enough, by the end of the third quarter the Sixers were down by 16.

Was there a silver lining in Wednesday’s loss? Sims had 20 points and 10 rebounds and got to the foul line 11 times. That’s not bad for a guy who opened the season playing for the Canton Charge in the D-League.

Of course that was offset by Carter-Williams’ seven turnovers.

It’s not going to get any easier for the Sixers. Friday night the Pacers come to town for the first game of a back-to-back. The next night the Grizzlies arrive. After that the Sixers go to Indiana, host the Bulls and Knicks before going on the road to face the Bulls, Spurs and Rockets.

Yikes.

Sixers Mailbag: Draft De'Aaron Fox at 3, re-sign Ersan Ilyasova?

Sixers Mailbag: Draft De'Aaron Fox at 3, re-sign Ersan Ilyasova?

This week, I tweeted asking for questions for a Sixers mailbag, and the replies came pouring in. (Thanks, everyone!)

So we changed it up and in addition to answering the questions in these articles, we also discussed some of the topics on PST Extra. Read below and watch the video for the responses. If you tweeted a question with #CSNSixersMailbag and don’t see it on here, don't worry, there will be plenty more answered leading up to the draft and free agency.

The Sixers should explore all possibilities: trade up, trade down, trade the pick, draft third. The draft is a little funky this year in that there is not a clear-cut choice between picks three through five, and perhaps beyond that. If the Sixers like either player, there is the possibility they could simply select that player No. 3.

I’ve said before, I could see Fox going third. The speedy point guard met with the Sixers at the draft combine and outlined how he would fit playing off the ball with Ben Simmons and finding opportunities with Joel Embiid. Is three a stretch for him? I don’t think so (more on why here).

Monk has not been projected as high as Fox, so the option of trading down for him is viable. If the Sixers draft for need, however, his skill set is a fit at three. Monk is their best option for a shooter, and they are lacking shooters. It's not uncommon for a prospect to jump in the draft order based on what the team at that selection is looking for. Of course, if the Sixers trade down, they could pick up another piece (future pick, etc.) in addition to Monk in the deal, which always is worth considering.

Ersan Ilyasova was a great veteran presence for the Sixers this season before they traded him to the Hawks at the deadline. He boosted their offense and, more importantly, helped in Dario Saric’s development.

The Sixers and Ilyasova had different plans for the future, though, and understandably so. Ilyasova, who turned 30 this month, was going to be looking for a longer-term contract this offseason than the Sixers were interested in offering. Ilyasova wanted commitment and security at this point in his career; the Sixers wanted flexibility with their options in the frontcourt.

Ilyasova has put together a résumé that will attract teams in free agency this summer.

The case for Kentucky's De'Aaron Fox to the Sixers at No. 3

The case for Kentucky's De'Aaron Fox to the Sixers at No. 3

Over the weeks leading up to the 2017 NBA draft, we'll be making cases for the Sixers to draft several prospects. Our series will kick off with options at No. 3 (or trade downs) followed by second-round possibilities. The 2017 NBA draft will take place on June 22 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.

De'Aaron Fox
Position: PG
School: Kentucky
Height: 6-3
Weight: 170 pounds
Wingspan: 6-6½

The case for Fox
With maybe the deepest point guard class in recent draft history, Fox has been flying up draft boards in the past month while still staying relatively under the radar when compared with Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball — the expected top two picks in some order. He is electric on offense, and the Wildcats' guard posted double-figure points in all but four games during his lone collegiate season.

Against UCLA in the Sweet 16, Fox scored a career-high 39 and added four dimes. But perhaps more impressively, he shut down Ball, holding his 6-foot-6 counterpart to just 10 points on 4 of 10 shooting and one trey. And it wasn't just a one-time thing — two nights later, Fox held North Carolina guard Joel Berry II to just 11 points.

Although the Sixers have repeatedly said Ben Simmons will be their starting point guard at the beginning of next season (assuming the young star has no other setbacks), they will need someone to defend against opponents' quicker guards. With T.J. McConnell as the only true ballhandler currently on the roster, Fox certainly would be able to help spell Simmons at the point as well.

When experts began putting together their mock draft boards at the end of the college basketball season, Fox was frequently listed as a back-end lottery selection. Now, many have him as a potential top-five pick, and it's hard to see Fox slipping much past the Kings at No. 5 as Sacramento is a rebuilding team still in search of a point guard of their own.

The case against Fox
The biggest knock on Fox is his size. On Kentucky's website, he is listed at 187 pounds. But at the NBA draft combine, he measured in 17 pounds lighter. For scouts already concerned with his thin frame, this did little to reassure them that Fox will be able to hang with bigger guards at the next level — but maybe he fits as a complement to the 6-foot-11 Simmons.

Another worry is his three-point shooting. For the season, Fox shot just 24.9 percent from beyond the arc, attempting just fewer than two three-pointers per game. As a team in 2016-17, the Sixers took the seventh-most triples but ranked 25th out of 30 NBA teams from distance at 34 percent. With the Sixers in desperate need of consistent outside shooting, Fox would need to significantly improve that area of his game at the next level to help Brett Brown's team take the next step.

And, of course, as with most young ballhandlers (Fox is just 19), he has rough spots when leading the offense. Yes, Fox helped Kentucky to its fair share of highlight-reel alley-oops, yet he still struggled to command the Wildcats' offense at times and would occasionally get lost in pick-and-roll defense. Although his 5.8 assists per 40 minutes are a sign that he can eventually grow into the point guard that the Sixers need him to be, they could also use Fox to be an immediate impact player for a team that is finally trying to put all the pieces together.

Analysis
If the Sixers do in fact miss out on Fultz and Ball, Fox would certainly be a good consolation prize. He is incredibly quick with the ball in his hands and has the potential to improve defensively. In fact, our Amy Fadool lauded him as one of the most improved players in all of college basketball last season — he shot almost 48 percent from the field in Kentucky's final 14 games of the season.

There is no one on the Sixers' roster, as it stands, with a skill set comparable to Fox's, but it's still fair to question how he will handle some of the bigger and stronger point guards in the Eastern Conference, such as Kyrie Irving and John Wall, on both ends of the floor. With plenty of young budding talent in the fold, though, if Fox can immediately step in as a plus defender and a steady reserve ballhandler, he could definitely help the Sixers' core of Simmons, Joel Embiid and Dario Saric become even more lethal offensively.

A couple of weeks ago, I definitely viewed Fox as a stretch at No. 3. The more I think about it, however, he would not be an unreasonable selection for the Sixers. Yes, they also would likely have the option of Kansas' Josh Jackson or Duke's Jayson Tatum, as well as Fox's former teammate, Malik Monk, when they go on the clock, but Fox could fill a critical need. 

If the Sixers were somehow able to get the Kings to trade up to No. 3, Fox would be a great pick at No. 5 overall. And if Fultz or Ball were somehow available at No. 3, the Sixers would be hard-pressed to pass on either. Still, with so many talented point guards in this year's class, Fox is very much a worthy first-round candidate.