Having been confirmed as the team's lottery representative for next Tuesday, Coach Brett Brown is running the media gauntlet prior to the big night. The Sixers head man made a pit stop at 94.1 WIP yesterday, where he had some encouraging things to say on Joel Embiid and gave a glimpse into the Sixers thought process.
Brown gave a progress report on Embiid's rehab, telling Michael Barkann and Ike Reese that the Kansas and Cameroonian product is right on track:
I feel like he's coming along tremendously. I feel like, from a maturity standpoint and the reality of the professionalism that is required for him to be money and just perfect with the rehab, pre-hab, nutrition, all of that with his foot is ever present in Joel Embiid.
I think that he is all over the place, on track, to have just a solid first-year. There could be minute restrictions on his first-year where we start of the season slowly with him. But in general, I know he's just so excited to get out there and play basketball again.
Professionalism seemed to be a struggle for Embiid early in his time here in Philadelphia, and perhaps the reality of a second surgery (along with more time to adjust to being a pro) prompted him to snap into focus. Few things could be scarier and more frustrating than your career being over before it ever started, so good on Embiid for stepping up.
Embiid is a perfect example of the "best player available" approach the Sixers have championed the last few seasons, fit be damned, and if you take Brown at his word their approach will be less dogmatic this year:
I think we're a little past 'get the best player available'. And it's a little bit easier for me to say that, because when you look at the higher end of the draft, the higher end of the draft — by most draft boards and people's opinions, which we agree with — is they're wings.
When you look at the abundance of bigs that we have, this year's draft favors us a little bit more if we are successful in getting the highest pick that we can. It would tilt, according to many mock drafts, to equal a small perimeter player. So I think, by that standard, by that measure, I feel like we're gonna be in pretty good shape.
As Brown alludes to, there shouldn't be much of a team composition issue with who the Sixers select at the top of the draft. Unless things go haywire and Dragan Bender ends up their top selection, wings and guards dot the top of the charts. The Sixers need ballhandlers, perimeter scorers and lots of shooting, and they can find at least a couple of those traits in each of the draft's top prospects.
Where the change might manifest more directly is in the team's later selections. Whereas the Sixers under Sam Hinkie were happy to swing for home runs in the draft's latter stages, it remains to be seen what Bryan Colangelo will demand in that space. He certainly hasn't shied away from upside-y players before -- DeMar Derozan at ninth overall representing a good example -- so don't count out the possibility of more drafted bigs if they make sense from a value standpoint.
There's a fine line to walk there; focusing on balance is an admirable goal, but if it means force-feeding "fit" players with lower draft grades (like say, Buddy Hield) rather than the best long-term player, there won't be a lot of love heading toward the front office.
The rest of the interview is worth a listen, with Brown discussing his relationship with Ben Simmons' family, his son Sam's role on "ping-pong ball night" and his nervousness heading into next Tuesday.
(h/t to @And_Porter for the transcription of Brown's quotes)
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