Possible NBA lottery reform could affect Sixers

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Possible NBA lottery reform could affect Sixers

Tank 2.0 will be a harder sell if the NBA makes it tougher to secure the pot of gold at the end of the lottery rainbow.

According to a report by Zach Lowe at Grantland, the NBA competition committee is reviewing a new lottery reform proposal. The wheel -- a different suggestion that has staunch proponents and detractors -- has evidently been supplanted by a new idea that would alter the current lottery odds in an attempt to discourage tanking for the top pick. They might as well call it the “Sam Hinkie Cease and Desist” plan.

At present, the team with the worst record has a 25 percent chance of getting the first pick in the NBA draft, one of the most valuable assets in the league. The team with the second-worst record has a 19.9 percent chance of getting the best pick. The odds decrease at various intervals from there.

Under the new plan, according to Lowe, the four worst teams would have almost the same chance of getting the top pick: Around 11 percent. That’s a significant shift. After finishing with the second-worst record a year ago, the Sixers had a one in five chance of getting the top pick. Under the new plan, that would have been closer to a one in 10 chance.

Teams that just missed the playoffs but landed at the back end of the lottery would benefit under the new system. The last lottery team would go from having a 0.5 percent chance at the top pick to two percent.

The proposal includes a system in which the top six picks are selected via ping-pong balls, with each subsequent pick being slotted in order from worst to best record. The current system selects the first three picks via ping-pong balls, then slots the rest by record.

Lowe wrote that there are various concerns about the proposal, including that it might encourage fringe playoff teams to tank and go for a better lottery pick than was previously available. (Basically, the teams at the back of the lottery might tank toward the end of the season instead of the teams at the front tanking all year.) The timing and how it might help, hurt or alter strategies that have already been implemented by various general managers (looking, once again, in Hinkie’s direction) is also an issue. Despite all that, NBA commissioner Adam Silver is evidently “serious about tweaking the lottery system, possibly as early as next season,” according to Lowe.

The “possibly as early as next season” part is disconcerting if you’re in favor of the long-term approach outlined by the Sixers over the last year. They are clearly set up to double their efforts on that front next season in an attempt to secure better chances at another top lottery pick. It seems unlikely that the NBA could put the new plan in place that quickly. Unlikely, but not impossible. Which is why there has to be at least a little concern over at Sixers HQ about all this.

This particular proposal was probably not submitted by the Sixers. Just a hunch on that.

Sixers take lasting lessons from talk with Will Smith at team dinner

Sixers take lasting lessons from talk with Will Smith at team dinner

GALLOWAY, N.J. — The sprawling city skyline could have been the highlight of the Sixers' team dinner at One Liberty Place on Monday night. Instead, it was a surprise celebrity appearance that left them in awe.

Will Smith, who is part of the Sixers’ ownership, caught the players off guard when he visited with the team to offer advice and answer questions.

“Man, that’s one of my idols,” Nerlens Noel said following the first training camp session at Stockton University. “Everything he said I really took in and all the guys did too.”

Rather than entertaining the group with his acting or musical skills, Smith imparted important lessons that are applicable in sports. The 48-year-old has had decades of success across multiple platforms, and he offered pieces of wisdom that can resonate in any situation. 

“If you have bad people around you, that’s how people see you and that’s how you are,” Joel Embiid said. “He said to have good people around. That’s the main thing I got from that.”

The Sixers had differing memorable moments the morning after Smith’s visit, which demonstrated how many topics he addressed with the team. 

“He’s a good guy,” Ben Simmons said. “I definitely learned a lot from hearing him talk … You’ve got to look at things from a positive and negative with every situation.”

Jahlil Okafor was especially caught up in Smith’s appearance. Smith is Okafor’s favorite actor, most notably for his role in I Am Legend, and impressed Okafor with his character. 

“We already know about his accolades and how smart he is and obviously he’s an entertaining person,” Okafor said. “But it just seemed like he really wanted to be there to help us out. I just took away that he was a great person.”

Okafor also added, “It just helps [to hear from him] because the road to success is pretty much the same. It’s about being focused, it’s about knowing that you’re going to be knocked down, you’re going to fail. That was one of the messages that Will Smith shared, was expect failure but the main thing is to get back up.”

Noel previously had seen Smith courtside at Sixers games, and this was his first opportunity to hear directly from him. Noel listened to everything Smith had to say, from how to deal with the media to ranking his best and worst movies. 

“Never get caught up in too much of the negativity,” Noel recounted. 

While people view professional athletes as celebrities, the Sixers were on the opposite side Monday evening. 

“It’s hard to get starstruck nowadays,” Noel said. “But when you see Will Smith, it’s a whole different ballgame.”

Cold can't keep Joel Embiid away from first Sixers practice

Cold can't keep Joel Embiid away from first Sixers practice

GALLOWAY, N.J. — Joel Embiid awoke Tuesday morning and was still feeling ill from a cold and virus he has been battling since last Friday. He had been coughing, experiencing a bloody nose and even vomiting, but all those symptoms could not stop him from a day he has been eyeing for over two years: his first NBA practice.

Embiid had stayed back in Philadelphia on Monday night while the Sixers traveled to training camp at Stockton University in South Jersey. On Tuesday, he decided to leave the city and join the team on campus.

“I woke up this morning and I was like, ‘I waited too long for this time, so I’ve got to go and try to do some work in there,’” Embiid said.

Embiid had been sidelined by foot injuries since the Sixers drafted him third overall in 2014. Tuesday marked his first NBA practice, and he is eyeing his first preseason game next Tuesday against the Celtics.

Embiid was not expected to be part of training camp Tuesday because of his illness. He surprised the team when he arrived while practice was underway. The Sixers' medical staff cleared him before he took the court.

“He forced himself into practice today,” head coach Brett Brown said. “He said, ‘I feel good, I want to go.’ With the time that he has put in the last few years, he meant it. You respected that instruction.”

Embiid is following a minutes restriction during training camp, which currently is 25 minutes for the morning session and 20 minutes for the evening session. His previous physical restrictions have been lifted and the team is monitoring him for workload and time on the court.

“I step back and figure out how do I want to spend my money?” Brown said. “If we’ve got X amount of time, where do I feel like he can make the most improvement? Where do I feel like he’s going to have the best chance to get on the court and play minutes, as we expect against the Celtics?”

Tuesday morning’s session focused on the defensive end. While Embiid had trouble breathing at points and tired quickly, he made an effort to give 100 percent on the court. The only lags in Embiid’s game Brown noticed were attributed to his illness, not because of his foot.

“I don’t think he’s missed a beat from a great month of September,” Brown said.

The Sixers sensed the enthusiasm from Embiid. Regardless of his restrictions, his energy was felt among the team.

“When he did get in, he played well,” Ben Simmons said. “He’s a big inside presence. He got a lot of boards and crashed the offensive glass.”

Added Jahlil Okafor: "He’s excited to be here. Obviously, he’s had a couple tough years with his injuries that he couldn’t control. But he’s finally here and he’s taking advantage of that."

The Sixers will hold training camp through Friday at Stockton University. Embiid is looking to push past any symptoms to be on the court as much as he can.