Five targets for the Sixers at No. 16

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Five targets for the Sixers at No. 16

Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Posted: 1:26 p.m.

By Sean Kane
CSNPhilly.com contributor

Next Thursdays NBA draft may be the last opportunity the 76ers have for a while to upgrade their roster. The league's CBA expires on June 30 and a lockout is looming, and as the NFL has taught us so well, no free agent signings or trades can take place during a lockout. Plus, the state of flux the organization is in considering the pending sale of the team complicates the completion of any deals. Suddenly, the draft becomes the only sure thing this offseason.

So how can the 76ers get better next Thursday? Their biggest area of need is the frontline. If they pull off a trade involving Andre Iguodala between now and the draft, the chances of them taking a perimeter player increase (think Jordan Hamilton of Texas or Klay Thompson of Washington State). But until that happens, it makes more sense to think big. Here are five names that could be on the board when they make the 16th pick.
1. Kenneth Faried (6-8, 225, PF, Morehead State)
The 76ers are in need of a presence inside, an energy guy that will help them improve on being the eighth-worst rebounding team in the NBA last season. Rebounding was the biggest difference when the 76ers went toe-to-toe with Eastern Conference heavyweights like Orlando and Miami (in the four games they lost to the Heat in the postseason, they were beat on the glass by an average of 8.5 rebounds per game).

No one in college basketball rebounded the ball better than Faried, who led the nation (14.3 rebounds per game) as a senior and ended his career as the NCAA's all-time leading rebounder. But his skills aren't limited to the boards alone. He blocked close to 2.5 shots and scored 17.3 points per game.

Faried broke onto the national radar during the NCAA tournament, capping Morehead State's first-round upset of Louisville by blocking the potential game-winning shot at the buzzer after piling up 17 rebounds. With four years of college experience, Faried will be ready to contribute immediately on the 76ers' thin frontline. He won't need the ball to be a factor in the NBA; he's content protecting the rim and rebounding.

The biggest concerns when it comes to Faried are his size and the level of competition he faced in college. He measured 6-foot-6 without shoes at the combine and played in the Ohio Valley Conference a mid-major devoid of the caliber of athletes you'll find in the Big East, Big Ten and Big 12.
2. Markieff Morris (6-10, 245, PF, Kansas)
Morris also fits the mold of an athletic big man who can protect the rim and run the floor. The Philadelphia native was the less heralded Morris twin during his time at Kansas (Marcus was the Big 12 Player of the Year), but Markieff thrived on doing the dirty work defensively and on the glass. Morris is an excellent interior defender who averaged more than eight rebounds last season as a junior.

He's no slouch offensively either. Morris averaged 13.6 points and made 58.9 percent of his field goal attempts. More impressively, he shot 42.4 percent from three-point range last season, attempting more than 1.5 three-point shots per game.
3. Tristan Thompson (6-9, 225, PF, Texas)
Thompson has a ton of talent and potential; the only question is whether he will still be on the board when the Sixers pick. Most projections indicate he won't be, but keep in mind Jrue Holiday wasn't supposed to be there when the 76ers made the 17th pick in the 2009 draft. Thompson averaged 13 points and eight rebounds as a freshman at Texas.

His frame has all the makings of a terrific rebounder and shot blocker. He made great strides offensively during his time in Austin, a lefty who is a handful to defend on the low block. If Thompson slips past the Bobcats (nine), Suns (13) and Pacers (15), he would be a great value pick for the 76ers.

4. Tobias Harris (6-8, 225, PF, Tennessee)
Harris' stock has been on the rise the last few weeks. A versatile forward, hes able to play on the block as well as knock down the perimeter jump shot. Harris averaged 15.3 points and 7.3 rebounds as a freshman at Tennessee. There are concerns over his conditioning, but he worked hard on that area in college and has continued to do so in the months leading up to the draft.

Harris could be considered a bit of a reach with the 16th pick, but at just 18 years old he has the potential to blossom into the type of player that could eventually be considered a steal in the middle of the first round.
5. Trey Thompkins (6-10, 250, PF, Georgia)
Thompkins has been projected to go anywhere from the middle of the first round to the middle of the second round. He would be considered more of a reach than Harris with the 16th pick. But if the 76ers really like him, they may elect to take him at 16 rather than hope he falls to them in the second round. Unlike a lot of big men in this draft, Thompkins has an extensive body of work that can be evaluated. He played three seasons at Georgia, averaging 16.4 points and 7.6 rebounds as a junior last season.

He's not an elite level athlete, and like Harris, there have been questions raised about his conditioning. But Thompkins has great size and is a well-rounded post player with reliable range from 18 to 20 feet.

Possibilities in the second round (the Sixers have pick No. 50):

-Lavoy Allen, 6-9225, PF, Temple

-Rick Jackson, 6-9640, PF, Syracuse

-Jamie Skeen, 6-8240, PF, VCU

Related: Sixers to extend qualifying offers to Young, Hawes Sixers continue pre-draft workouts Wednesday

Report: Rockets to hire Sixers associate coach Mike D'Antoni

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Report: Rockets to hire Sixers associate coach Mike D'Antoni

The Sixers are losing a top assistant coach just five months after he joined the team. 

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo's The Vertical, the Houston Rockets are finalizing a deal to hire Mike D'Antoni as their head coach. According to Wojnarowski, the deal is for four years, with a team option in the final year.  

D'Antoni had been a Sixers associate coach since last December, when the team hired him after starting the season with a 1-26 record. 

While he took a supporting role in Philadelphia, D'Antoni has 12 years of NBA head coaching experience with the Nuggets, Suns and, most recently, the Lakers. The 2013-14 Lakers went 27-55 under D'Antoni. 

Earlier in the week, Wojnarowski reported P.J. Carlesimo could take D'Antoni's place. 

Carlesimo, 66, and Sixers head coach Brett Brown were both assistant coaches under Gregg Popovich with the Spurs from 2002-07. Carlesimo also has previous head coaching experience with the Blazers, Warriors and Sonics/Thunder. 

Markieff Morris detained at Philadelphia International Airport

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USA Today Images

Markieff Morris detained at Philadelphia International Airport

Former Prep Charter and current Washington Wizards star Markieff Morris was detained at Philadelphia International Airport Thursday, according to law enforcement officials.

Morris, who was with a party that included his mother, checked a bag for an international trip when “a suspicious item” was found in his suitcase, according to law enforcement.

A secondary search of his bag revealed what law enforcement officials called “suspected marijuana.” Terminal A at Philadelphia International is overseen by Tinicum Township Police in Delaware County, not by the Philadelphia Police Department. Philadelphia airport security notified Tinicum Township Police. Morris was then taken to the Tinicum Township Police precinct for questioning. He was later released on his own reconnaissance.

A Tinicum Township police spokesman said the investigation is on-going.

Morris, a Philadelphia native, is in his first full season with the Wizards, who acquired him from the Phoenix Suns in February. The Suns drafted him out of Kansas with the 13th overall pick in 2011. Morris' twin brother Marcus was drafted one pick later by the Houston Rockets before being dealt to Phoenix, where played with his brother for a little more than two seasons. Marcus now plays for the Detroit Pistons. 

Not worthy of No. 1: LSU reporter details concerns with Ben Simmons

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Not worthy of No. 1: LSU reporter details concerns with Ben Simmons

So you think Ben Simmons should be picked first or second in the next month's NBA draft.

We found someone who thinks Simmons doesn't deserve to go in either spot. Someone who has seen Simmons play plenty.

It's USA Today LSU beat writer Glenn Guilbeau, who didn't mince words as a guest Thursday on TCN's Breakfast on Broad. Guilbeau didn't question Simmons' desire and motivation — "I don't think that was an issue," he said — but did express concerns with other areas. 

Several other areas.

"To me, he's more of a specialist player and a complementary player than someone who can really take over a team," Guilbeau said. "He's not a strong, inside player like a brute. A physical player. And he also does not shoot from the outside, which is amazing, but he's a great passer and a great scorer."

Complementary player? Can't take over a team? Say what? 

"I don't think he should be the first pick," Guilbeau said. "I can see him being a high first-round pick. It depends on the team he's going to. Do they have enough of the other parts of the team where he can be a facilitator and a complementary player?

"He would have to go to a team where he can flourish as a complementary player, a team that has a very good center."

The Sixers are loaded in the front court with Jahlil Okafor, Nerlens Noel and potentially Joel Embiid. But a first overall pick is not supposed to be a complementary player.

"I think you could develop him to be as good as he could be, but not be that type of star," Guilbeau said. "It's kind of strange to me. Before he ever played he was supposed to be the greatest player, and I just never saw it. I covered great players here like Shaquille O'Neal and Chris Jackson, and he just didn't change a team like those guys did."

You'd think a team with the best player in the nation would have fared better than LSU, which finished last season a disappointing 19-14. The Tigers were crushed by Texas A&M in the SEC Tournament, 71-38, failed to make the NCAA Tournament and declined an NIT bid. In the loss to the Aggies, Simmons had 10 points, 12 rebounds and four fouls in 31 minutes.

The 6-foot-10, 225-pound Simmons averaged 19.2 points, 11.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists for LSU and hit 56.0 percent from the field. Gaudy numbers and all team highs. But he was just 1 for 3 from three, and that's a major concern given that he's being projected at almost every position but center.

"I just was surprised -- he didn't even try to shoot from the outside," Guilbeau said. "That would be the normal attribute that a player like him would have because he's a guard. He's basically a guard who can't shoot. Most of them can shoot. That's what I thought was really missing, and it hurt the team at times.

"In my mind, either you can dominate inside like a Shaquille O'Neal, or you can do all the other things, but all the other things has to include shooting from the outside, and he doesn't do that. I'd rather have Buddy [Hield]."

If there's one thing Hield can do — and let's just assume Guilbeau misspoke when he said "Guiled" — it's shoot. And the Sixers certainly need a shooter. But obviously it would be a major shock if they took Hield. 

It will be important for Simmons to develop an outside shot, and it might be more important for him to play under a quality head coach. Guilbeau wasn't praiseworthy of LSU's Johnny Jones, whose Tigers improved in each of his first three seasons as head coach before Simmons' arrival.

LSU won 19 games in 2013, 20 in 2014 and 22 in 2015 — and reached the NCAA Tournament.

"It's going to depend on the coach he gets too," Guilbeau said. "I would say he's never really had a great X and O coach yet in his career. He was on a team that had quite a few players last year, and they didn't do too well. So maybe it will be different depending on what team he goes to. He didn't play under Coach K or anything like that."

For more discussion on the topic, watch Thursday's edition of Lunch Break.