Summer League: Sixers lose despite hot McRae

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Summer League: Sixers lose despite hot McRae

The Sixers' bid to claim both NBA summer league titles came to an end on Thursday night with a 79-68 loss to the Chicago Bulls in Las Vegas.

The loss took place in the second round of the Las Vegas Summer League's tournament portion and dropped the Sixers' record in Sin City to 2-3. The Sixers will finish their stay in Vegas with a consolation game at 10:30 p.m. on Friday against the D-League Select team.

Jordan McRae did his best to deliver the Sixers a win. The second-round pick scored a game-high 25 points on 7 of 8 shooting. McRae was also 10 of 10 at the foul line. His lone miss of the night came on a three-pointer with 41.9 seconds left in the game.

Nerlens Noel didn't fare as well in his return to the lineup. After sitting out the Sixers' previous two games, Noel came back to score 14 points against the Bulls but they came on 13 shots. He did add five rebounds and two assists as he battled a cold and some hard collisions in the loss.

K.J. McDaniels chipped in with 11 points to round out the Sixers who scored in double figures.

The top-seeded Bulls were led by guard Tony Snell and forward Cameron Bairstow, who scored 18 points apiece to run their record to 4-0.

The No. 11 overall pick in last month's NBA draft, Doug McDermott, had an uncharacteristically poor shooting night. McDermott scored 11 points on just 3 of 10 shooting, including 1 of 6 from three-point range. He did grab five boards and block two shots.

As they've done throughout the Las Vegas Summer League, the Sixers fell behind early again on Thursday. They trailed the Bulls by as many as 14 points during the first half before rallying to take a lead in the second quarter behind 14 points in the frame from McRae.

However, with the game tied at 52 and 3:17 remaining in the third, the Bulls went on a 9-0 run to finish the quarter and regain control on their way to victory.

Give and Go: Do Joel Embiid's injuries limit his ceiling?

Give and Go: Do Joel Embiid's injuries limit his ceiling?

With the team at the All-Star break, our resident basketball analysts will discuss some of the hottest topics involving the Sixers.

Running the Give and Go are CSNPhilly.com producer/reporters Matt Haughton and Paul Hudrick.

In this edition, we describe Joel Embiid's rookie season.

Haughton
There are so many different ways to go when describing Joel Embiid's long-awaited rookie season.

The numbers say dominant. Embiid leads all rookies in points (20.2), rebounds (7.8) and blocks (2.4) per game. He's also second in field goal percentage (46.6) among first-year players.

Of course, the injury situation — and handling of it by the team — has made Embiid's first season a bit frustrating. After waiting two seasons for the center to overcome foot injuries, you can understand the team's cautious approach. However, the almost random playing patterns at times and the near radio silence on his medical status has left a bad taste.

Still, overall I would say Embiid's rookie campaign has been refreshing for the franchise. Following three straight seasons of absolute abysmal basketball, the Sixers finally appear to have a real building block. 

Not only that, but Embiid also gives them a charismatic personality that is filling up the Wells Fargo Center again and being recognized on a national stage. You can't ask for much more after what the organization endured in recent years.

Hudrick
Describing Embiid's season depends on which perspective you're looking at it from. 

When he's been on the court, it's been unbelievable. He's a 22-year-old Cameroonian who's only been playing the game of basketball for a few years. He also didn't play for two years after two foot surgeries. Even with all that, he's been the most exciting basketball player this city has seen since Allen Iverson.

From a statistical standpoint, his numbers align with some of the greatest rookie big men of all time. While mentioning Embiid and Hakeem Olajuwon in the same breath may be premature, it's an indication of just how spectacular he has been. Their rookie seasons actually compare favorably.

Of course, the injuries are concerning. Will he ever be a full-time player? Embiid recently expressed his interest in playing back-to-back games. The organization won't give him the opportunity this year and I'm not sure how many opportunities they'll give him in the future. 

With that said, Embiid can still make an impact in 60-something games a season. When he's on the court, he can be one of the most dominant players in the league. When healthy, Embiid is the most exciting athlete in Philadelphia.

With Kings' unprotected 2019 pick, Sixers' future assets the envy of the NBA

With Kings' unprotected 2019 pick, Sixers' future assets the envy of the NBA

It's difficult to understate how sweet the Sixers smell after the Kings' trade of DeMarcus Cousins to the Pelicans.

Yes, it removed another suitor from Jahlil Okafor trade talks, but that's not nearly as important as how much the Sacramento-New Orleans trade benefitted the Sixers moving forward.

And while many Sixers fans are rightfully jumping for joy today about the pick swap the Sixers have with the Kings in the 2017 draft, let's not forget about the 2019 pick.

Because no matter what happens with pick swaps, the Sixers own the Kings' unprotected 2019 first-round pick, which could legitimately be first overall given Sacramento's direction.

That 2019 pick now has immense value for several reasons:

Stripped-down Kings roster
Without Cousins, the Kings are right now probably one of the three worst teams in the NBA.

Their core is Darren Collison, Buddy Hield, Arron Afflalo, Garrett Temple, Kosta Koufos, Willie Cauley-Stein, Tyreke Evans, Ben McLemore, Anthony Tolliver. This team has 25 games left. How many can it win? Five?

Collison is their best remaining player, and he's a free agent after the season. This is going to be an incredibly challenging rebuild for the Kings, unless Hield and Cauley-Stein turn into stars.

Who is signing in Sac'to?
Sacramento is one of the league's smallest markets, and there has been front office discord there for years, along with a coaching carousel. Aside from Brooklyn, you can't find a worse free-agent destination. You can't find a tougher sell. 

Divac repeatedly said he'd never trade Cousins. Then he traded him. You tell me if agents and star players are going to trust the Kings enough to sign there without a no-trade clause.

And really, why would a free agent even want to sign there? The Kings have a bad core, a bad environment and a bad draft pick situation moving forward. There is little upside.

Sure, Sacramento will be able to lure mid-tier free agents like the Lakers did with Luol Deng and Timofey Mozgov. But that isn't going to make them substantially better.

Sixers' remarkable collection of picks
The result of all this is the Sixers' future becomes even brighter. Basketball fans routinely look at the Celtics as having the best assets moving forward because of their pick swaps with cellar-dwelling Brooklyn. But the Sixers' assets now are arguably better because, in addition to the pick swaps, they have the unprotected Sacramento pick.

And they have the Lakers' pick, which becomes fully unprotected next year if it doesn't convey this year.

And they have their own picks in 2018 and 2019.

And they have the Thunder's 2020 pick. 

And they have Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Dario Saric.

Today's a good day in Sixers land.

Here's a round-up of their future draft picks:

2017
• Pick swap with Kings

• Lakers pick (top-3 protected; becomes unprotected in 2018 if it doesn't convey)

• Two second-round picks

2018
• Their own first-round pick

• The Lakers' unprotected first-round pick (if L.A. gets the first, second or third pick in the 2017 draft)

• Second-round pick from Cleveland or Brooklyn (whichever is higher)

• Second-round pick from Clippers or Knicks (whichever is higher)

2019
• Unprotected first-round pick from Kings

• Their own first-round pick

• Second-round pick from Knicks

• Second-round pick from Bucks or Kings (whichever is higher)

2020
• Their own first-round pick

• Thunder's first-round pick (top-20 protected)

• Second-round pick from Nets

• Second-round pick from Knicks

Woah.

If the Sixers want to build methodically, they can. And if they want to eventually swing a trade for a superstar like Jimmy Butler or Paul George, they have the assets for that, too.