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Liberty Links: Finding 3-and-D players in the draft is on every team’s mind

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The Sixers need guys who can space the floor and defend.

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NCAA Basketball: Florida State at Clemson Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

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The 3-and-D Prospect Is the Must-Have Archetype of the 2017 NBA Draft - The Ringer

Kevin O’Connor highlights the mulitude of three-and-D prospects in the 2017 NBA draft, from lottery picks Josh Jackson and Jonathan Isaac down to second-rounders like Davon Reed out of Miami and Devin Robinson from Florida. The key for these players succeeding in these roles? Patience from the team that drafts them, according to O’Connor:

The key for the team is to have patience, and for the player, it’s all about buying in. Not every player on a team can or will be the star. The league is mostly role players, just like the body is mostly water. And you don’t have to tell someone how essential water is to survival. The 3-and-D player is integral to the fabric of winning organizations, and as the NBA continues to evolve, their importance will only grow.

Dennis Smith’s driving and finishing completes the picture of him as a versatile scorer - The Step Back

I love Cole Zwicker’s prospect coverage for the draft. Here’s his take on Dennis Smith Jr.:

Overall, Smith might be the most difficult player to project in this class. His talent level is probably second only to Fultz, but he didn’t have Fultz’s consistent production as a freshman and lacks Fultz’s tools. But the elite flashes were there that are both tantalizing and frightening to pass on. His inconsistency was perhaps best illustrated in this skill category with his frustrating willingness to settle for pull-ups and wavering effort level attacking downhill, especially when you factor in the elite flashes that shed light on his capability here.

Counterpoint: The NBA Playoffs Are Actually Incredible - The Ringer

Shea Serrano is one of the most entertaining writers out there. There’s no one else I’d expect to call the 2017 Chicago Bulls the “the NBA’s version of those old cartoon hobos who would tie a bag around the end of a stick as a suitcase.”

Future Sixers: Jayson Tatum Deserves Consideration at #3 - Liberty Ballers

Liberty Ballers’ own Marc Whittington does an excellent job delving into some of the false narratives surrounding Jayson Tatum as an NBA prospect.

Lauri Markkanen Could Be the Latest Game-Changing Stretch 5 - The Ringer

Anything Jonathan Tjarks writes is worth reading. He gives his take on Lauri Markkanen’s fit in today’s NBA:

[Markkanen]’s one of the only rookies who is immediately going to make his team better next season, and he has one of the highest floors of any player who will be taken in the lottery. Pair a sweet-shooting big man like Markkanen with an elite shot creator and good things will happen. If he stays healthy, he’s going to have a long career in the NBA, and he could swing a playoff series on the right team. Markkanen’s defense may hurt his team if it advances deep enough into the playoffs, but his offense is also good enough to help them get there in the first place.

The Vertical Mock Draft, Version 3.0 - The Vertical

Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress fame has the Sixers taking Josh Jackson with the third-overall pick in The Vertical’s most recent mock draft:

The 76ers are still trying to figure out their point-guard situation. Ben Simmons may end up spending quite a bit of time there offensively, but landing outside of the top two picks complicates things. Their consolation prize is Jackson, perhaps the top two-way wing in the draft. Jackson’s strong shooting late in the year for Kansas offered a glimpse into his offensive upside and could make him a fit for the 76ers. They are reportedly very high on Malik Monk as well, are expected to field trade offers and could go in any number of directions on draft night.

This NBA Life - The Ringer

Friend of the blog and former Sixers beat writer John Gonzalez spotlights the Road Trippin’ With R.J. & Channing podcast from Cavaliers players Richard Jefferson and Channing Frye. I’m actually a subscriber to it. I’m not sure I’ve heard a better podcast recently than those two interviewing Tim Duncan and discussing how they’d stay up all night playing World of Warcraft with Andrei Kirilenko.

Sources: Hawks planning to hire Warriors exec Travis Schlenk as GM - The Vertical

Travis Schlenk has been the assistant general manager for the Warriors for five years under Executive of the Year-winner Bob Myers. If a team is looking for a new executive or coach, they should be prying staff members away from either Golden State or the Spurs.

In the Arena - Cleaning the Class

Former Sixers VP of Basketball Strategy Ben Falk continues doing great work on his site, this time analyzing the odd way the public criticizes head coaches and everything that position entails.