Sixers draft target: G/F James Young

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Sixers draft target: G/F James Young

In this installment of our series before June 26’s draft, we look at a swingman who can shoot:

James Young
Position: Guard/Forward
Height/Weight: 6-6/210
School: Kentucky

Another one of John Calipari's "one-and-done" prospects who is entering the NBA after just one season at Kentucky. Young was often overshadowed by Julius Randle and Andrew and Aaron Harrison at Kentucky, but he finished last season as the Wildcats' second-leading scorer at 14.3 points per game. As a freshman, he shot 40 percent from the field and 35 percent from three-point range.

Young bolstered his draft stock significantly with his performance in the national championship game. He was far and away Kentucky's best player in a six-point loss to UConn, scoring 20 points on 5 of 13 shooting from the field and grabbing seven rebounds. Young's driving dunk in the first half was the highlight of the game and left no doubt that he has the athleticism and explosiveness to succeed in the NBA.

Young has ideal size for an NBA swingman. He will play either the shooting guard or small forward position at the pro level. This year's draft is brimming with prospects at each of those positions. How Young stacks up with the rest of that crop remains to be seen.

Strengths
Young has extraordinary athleticism and a polished offensive skill set for a player who has yet to turn 19 years old. He also doesn't shy away from big moments. Young averaged just under 17 points in Kentucky's final three games of the season, which happened to be the Elite Eight, Final Four and national championship. Young is capable of taking over a game with his ability to score the ball. In addition to having an effective (though sometimes inconsistent) outside stroke, Young can put the ball on the floor and get to the basket.
 
There is no doubt that the scrutiny that accompanies playing at Kentucky prepares you for life in the NBA. Young never seemed to have a problem dealing with that.

Weaknesses
His biggest issue in college was consistency. Young had eight games last season with 20 or more points. He also had eight games with fewer than 10 points. Some of this was due to Kentucky's deep roster and vast supply of scorers. But there is no denying Young has the tendency to disappear for prolonged stretches of games.

There are also questions surrounding his defensive abilities. Young has the foot speed to be a solid perimeter defender, but never seemed invested on the defensive end during his one season at Kentucky. This is a common trait among NBA players, but Young could separate himself by working to become more of a two-way player.

Young wasn't exactly a willing passer in college. In over 32 minutes per game, he averaged just 1.7 assists. That's actually difficult to do for a player who has the ball in his hands as often as he did.

How he'd fit with the Sixers
Young is exactly the type of raw athlete that Sixers GM Sam Hinkie seems to covet. But Hinkie also prefers players who can play defense, and Young is a long way from earning that label. At just 18 years of age, Young's game and body are still rounding into form. His potential is enticing and the fact he's still two or three years away from his best basketball meshes well with the Sixers' long-range rebuilding plan.

But if the Sixers hold onto the 3rd and 10th picks, they're very unlikely to call Young's name on draft night. If they really like him, they could trade down to the middle of first round to take him.        

NBA comparison
Arron Afflalo, who was more advanced coming out of UCLA than Young is entering the league. But they have very similar body types and offensive skills. Afflalo has made himself into an elite outside shooter. He shot 43 percent from three-point territory last season, upping his career average to 39 percent. Those percentages aren't out of the question for Young, who may be a better athlete than Afflalo.

Draft projection
Mid-first round (13th to 20th pick). 

Report: Kings receive permission from Sixers to speak with Sam Hinkie

Report: Kings receive permission from Sixers to speak with Sam Hinkie

You can't make this stuff up.

After getting what is generally regarded as fleeced once upon a time by former Sixers general manager and president Sam Hinkie, the Sacramento Kings are reportedly interested in his services.

According to ESPN's Marc Stein and Zach Lowe on Monday, the Kings have expressed exploratory interest in Hinkie. Sources told ESPN that Kings owner Vivek Ranadive sought and received permission from Sixers owner Josh Harris to speak with Hinkie.

The Kings needed the Sixers' permission to speak with Hinkie because the executive is forced to sit out the entire 2016-17 season based on a non-compete clause in his contract that took effect when he resigned in April 2016.

The report states Hinkie's level of interest in the Kings or what his role would be alongside current president/GM Vlade Divac was not immediately known. It also says other undisclosed teams have sought permission to speak to Hinkie.

The Kings later released a statement denying the report: "The Kings are not hiring Sam Hinkie and have no plans to bring anyone in above Vlade."

Hinkie, hired prior to the 2012-13 season, engineered the Sixers' massive rebuild. The team struggled mightily during his three seasons at the helm as it finished with a 47-199 record. He stepped down on April 6 of last year and his role as team president was ultimately filled by Bryan Colangelo.

However, Hinkie set the Sixers up for the future by his continued flipping of players for assets. That includes perhaps his best deal, which involved the Kings.

In July 2015, Hinkie dealt the rights to Arturas Gudaitis and Luka Mitrovic to Sacramento for Nik Stauskas, Carl Landry and Jason Thompson. More importantly, the Sixers also got the rights to swap first-round picks in the 2016 and 2017 NBA drafts and an unprotected first-rounder in 2019.

The Kings made moves to recoup some of those lost assets at this season's trade deadline when they shipped star big man DeMarcus Cousins and Omri Casspi for 2016 No. 6 overall pick Buddy Hield along with veterans Tyreke Evans and Langston Galloway and a 2017 second-round pick.

"But I believe we are going to be in a better position in two years," Divac said to the Sacramento Bee. "I want to hear again from these same people in two years. If I'm right, great. If I'm wrong, I'll step down. But if I go down, I'm going down my way."

Hinkie went down in Philadelphia on his own terms, too. Now his terms may involve working with Divac -- or even taking over his job.

Just remember, Vlade, trust the process.

Sixers recall center Tiago Splitter from D-League

Sixers recall center Tiago Splitter from D-League

The Sixers added some much-needed frontcourt depth Monday, recalling veteran center Tiago Splitter from the D-League.

Splitter, 32, averaged 6.5 points and 5.5 rebounds in two games with the Delaware 87ers. It was his first game action since Jan. 31, 2016. He's missed significant time with a calf injury.

The Sixers acquired Splitter from the Atlanta Hawks on Feb. 22 in the Ersan Ilyasova trade. They could use his presence in the paint defensively with Joel Embiid out for the season, Nerlens Noel in Dallas and Jahlil Okafor missing games with knee soreness. 

Richaun Holmes has started with Okafor out, and when he comes out he's been replaced by 6-foot-9 Shawn Long. (Long has had three solid games in a row, averaging 15.3 points and 7.7 rebounds against the Thunder, Bulls and Pacers.)

Sixers head coach Brett Brown is a fan of the little things Splitter can provide.

"I think that his fitness most stood out as the negative," Brown said last week. "I think the physicality that he does and what he does well -- he is an elite screen-setter, he is an elite roller, he's an elite passer -- you see hints of that again. But the fact does remain he hasn't played in 13 months."