Carter-Williams adjusting to pro game on the fly

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Carter-Williams adjusting to pro game on the fly

ORLANDO, Fla. – Michael Carter-Williams has played in three Orlando Pro Summer League games to this point. He is leading the Sixers in scoring with 15.3 points and assists with seven per game. The guard has also made 15 of 17 attempts from the foul line.

On the flip side, Carter-Williams is also shooting just 25 percent from the field and a rough 1 for 13 from the three-point line. Plus, he has 13 turnovers in the three contests with nine of those coming in the first game.

It’s all part of adjusting to the pro game for the 11th-overall draft pick.

“I think Michael has shown a lot of good flashes this week,” Sixers president and general manager Sam Hinkie said on Wednesday. “I think the summer is a good time for everyone to figure out where you stand. I think he has had a lot of good plays and he has a lot that he knows he needs to work on. Today, he got trapped on every pick-and-roll and they tried to get the ball out of his hands. It has been a while since he has been in that environment.”

Carter-Williams found himself matched up against Oklahoma City’s Jeremy Lamb at times during Wednesday’s game. MCW finished the game 3 of 16 for seven points, while the Thunder’s Lamb scored 32 points on 10-for-14 shooting.

Hinkie had a hand in selecting Lamb 12th overall in the 2012 draft when he was still with Houston. Lamb went to Oklahoma City in the James Harden trade prior to the start of last season and played in just 23 games, not totally surprising given the Thunder’s veteran talent.

However, Lamb’s growth as a player from his rookie summer to his sophomore summer was on full display Wednesday.

That comes from a daily maturation process the Sixers hope to see in their rookies Carter-Williams, Nerlens Noel and Arsalan Kazemi.

“Practicing your craft all 365 days a year makes a big difference,” Hinkie said. “No class, no study hall and you can really focus and spend a lot of time. If you are a player in a good development program, there are a lot of people focusing on you getting better, even if you are not getting in the big games that everyone thinks matters. You are getting a lot of work and a lot of shots and a lot of individual coaching in a way you didn’t even when you were in college.”

When Jrue Holiday returns from his honeymoon and the Pelicans give him his physical to officially seal the draft-night trade, the Sixers will have seven players under contract in addition to first-round picks Noel and Carter-Williams.

Royce White’s future -- acquired last week in a trade with Houston -- is up in the air. The Sixers could keep him on the roster or waive him, but his salary will count against the cap.

Kazemi and Justin Holiday will be vying for roster spots as well.

The salary amount for the seven players under contract equals just above $35 million, while the pair of first-rounders are slotted to eat up $4.3 million. White’s salary is 1.7 million for next season to give the Sixers a total right above $41 million. The league’s salary floor for next season is $52.8 million with the Sixers likely having four roster spots to reach that mark.

While NBA teams were officially allowed to start signing free agents on Wednesday and the Sixers certainly have money to spend, don’t expect the club to go adding costly pieces to its puzzle.

“We have talked to a lot of agents and to a lot of people around the league, learning the kind of players that will be available -- will be available in free agency and in trades,” Hinkie said. “There are lots of ways to add to our program, so it won’t be just free agency. I suspect that we will be more active as time goes on, not less.

“I think I mentioned that I probably wouldn’t knock on any doors at midnight. The moratorium ended this morning. We weren’t a team like some other teams that came out really aggressive this time of year in part because we want to see the opportunities that come our way and then react accordingly.”

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.