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Liberty Ballers Round Table: Fultz’ stat line, Brett Brown & Hollywood, Embiid’s next victim

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NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Chicago Bulls David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin F. Love: You have one night/vacation/event and you can bring one Sixer with you. Who do you bring and where do you go/what do you do?

Adio Royster: The most obvious answer is Joel Embiid and a Meek Mill concert, but personally, I don’t have the stamina for such a thing, anymore. I’m much more tame in my 30s. My answer is Robert Covington and we go to Six Flags or something of that nature. Hear me out. When it comes to “bench fun”, Roco is the best. Funny reactions after three pointers. Pouring water over TJ (along with Embiid) after his first career triple double. Covington seems like a lot of fun, so why not just take the guy who I think is the most fun and ride some rides, scream our heads off, and eat some crappy food.

Sean Kennedy: I want to go to the zoo with Joel Embiid. Just feels like an idea that has some legs.

Sean O’Connor: I’m bringing J.J. Redick to a recording studio for an hour. We’re recording a podcast about his canned powerpoint presentation on breakfast tacos. Alternatively, if J.J. is unavailable, I’m picking Joel Embiid. We’re going to the rec center at 10th and Lombard, and we’ll spend an hour together with him just dunking on me the entire time.

Tyler Monahan: This might be recency bias but before I die I NEED to go to a Croatian national team soccer game with Dario Saric, I don’t think I need to explain myself on that one.

Greg Melo: I’m a pretty boring person and feel like i haven’t been out to any big events in a while. That being said, when I watched those videos of Embiid’s escapades in Atlantis this summer, I couldn’t stop laughing. I’d be down to visiting any type of water park with the big guy.

Jake Hyman: Dario Saric, my dad and I are watching Dario Saric highlights at MaGerks Pub.

Caleb Turrentine: Joel Embiid. It seems too obvious but just playing FIFA and dunking on people in the streets of Boston all day would be pretty fun.

KFL: Give me Markelle Fultz’ final box score stats for the ‘18-’19 season and his role on the team come playoffs.

AR: *Exhausted sigh* I really have no clue at this point, so I’ll go with my default answer: Brandon Roy’s stats from his rookie season (2006-2007). 16.8 ppg/4.4 apg/4.0 rpg/45% FG/37% 3pt/83% FT.

SK: 13.0 points (43%/30%/62%), 4.5 rebounds, 5.0 assists. By playoff time, Fultz comes off the bench as the 6th man. Brett Brown keeps the traditional starting lineup to maximize shooting around Simmons and Embiid, but likes to bring in Fultz to downsize and add another primary ball handler to the lineup.

SO: Projecting Fultz this year may be more difficult than about any second year player ever. So, uh, 13/3/5 with league average two point shooting and a role as a scorer off the bench? I just can’t see his three pointer being magically in place so soon.

TM: 11 PPG, 3 RPG, 6 APG. By playoff time I think he settles into the role of effective sixth man.

GM: I think Fultz will be anchoring the bench for the 1st half of the season, but still averaging 20-25 mpg, before eventually taking the majority of starters minutes from JJ post All-Star Break. The jumper will be much better, and although I don’t think he’ll be a dead-eye from 3 this season, I think his shot will be respectable. His mid-range pull-up will be a go-to in the PnR, and that alone will open up passing lanes for him. Give me a line of 16/5/7 on 36% shooting from deep and 79% from the charity stripe for the former #1 pick.

JH: 16.8 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 4.1 APG (46.2 FG%, 37.6 3PFG%); combo guard creator in the starting lineup + secondary initiator next to Simmons

CT: 14.9 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 4.5 APG. Let’s throw in 1.5 SPG and 2.4 TOPG with a shooting slash of 45/35/75. I think he will still be coming off the bench during the playoffs but he should be getting 25+ minutes per game by then.

KFL: Which non-Sixer has had the most influence on the Sixers: Drew Hanlen, Vlade Divac or Barbara Bottini?

AR: Right now, it’s Drew Hanlen. If by some grace of the basketball gods, that 2019 Sacramento pick conveys, we’ll be back to bowing at the altar of Divac.

SK: Depending on the results of Markelle Fultz’s jumper rebuild, the answer could be Drew Hanlen very soon. However, the question implies “at this moment”, so I have to go with Vlade Divac. The Hinkie heist of the current Kings general manager supplied Philadelphia with both the pick swap and the future first round pick, which were instrumental in moving up to the first overall pick to select Fultz. Hanlen has certainly helped Embiid’s game, and getting Fultz’s career back on track would be huge, but you don’t have Fultz in the first place without Vlade Divac. Meanwhile, the burner account scandal was huge from a dramatic perspective, but I don’t think the team’s offseason would have been much different if Bryan Colangelo was still around whispering things for his wife to tweet.

SO: This needs SCIENTIFIC ANALYSIS:

  • Hanlen: worked with Joel Embiid at various points, is recreating Markelle Fultz’s yipped shot to currently-unknown results
  • Vlade: got cheered at the second annual Rights to Ricky Sanchez Lottery Party for no then-known reason, then made the Stauskas trade which begot the pick swap and an unprotected first, which were both pivotal in the Markelle Fultz acquisition
  • Bottini: finds her husband’s collars to be normal-sized, defends his honor, and gets him fired as GM, taking the Sixers into one of their most important offseasons ever without a permanent general manager
  • I think we need to eliminate Hanlen for now, given the lack of knowledge about Fultz’s shot. So there’s Vlade (who inadvertently gifted the Sixers Markelle Fultz, for better or worse) and Bottini. Between them, this is easy. Bottini upended the NBA for a week during the NBA finals inadvertently defending her husband. Every move this summer, or every move by whichever person takes over the team president role, will be prefaced with the question: what would Colangelo have done? The answers are unclear. But upending the organization because she was mad online can’t be topped, even though the picks have swapped.

TM: The answer has to be Barbara Bottini. Getting Bryan Collangelo as far away from the team as possible was vital in making sure the team didn’t become a laughingstock again.

GM: In lieu of a more fun response with the other candidates, confidently I’ll answer Hanlen. The man is a great salesman, and hopefully an even better shot doctor. Whatever kind of Fultz you believe the 76ers will be getting for this season will be directly correlated to the work Hanlen has done with him this summer. It’s not an understatement to say Hanlen is making Fultz his work legacy. I’m sure several wins and losses this year will fall on not only Fultz, but Hanlen too, in the eyes of a Sixers, casual fan.

JH: Drew Hanlen. If he can transform Markelle Fultz and Joel Embiid into potent floor-spacing offensive stars, Hanlen will be a revered Process figure in Sixers lore.

CT: I would love if Hanlen is the answer to this question six months from now but right now, Barbara Bottini seems like the correct answer. I still don’t think we have talked about that enough and we probably never will because it was the best story of all time.

KFL: Take the players Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons are right now. Add an effective jumper to Simmons’ game, and add playmaking/passing to Joel’s game. Change nothing else. Who is more impactful to success?

AR: Simmons not having a jump shot is not as detrimental as some (mostly national media) think. The Sixers have enough shooting AROUND Simmons to make him dangerous in the lane. You can’t leave the shooters because he’ll find them, and you can try to stop him at the rim. The hitch there for defenses is that he has the strength and finesse to finish. If Embiid becomes a better passer/playmaker, that changes EVERYTHING. Take Embiid’s offensive skill set, now, and add Arvydas Sabonis’s passing ability. Now, teams will not be able to double Embiid or face the wrath of more open shooters or open cutters.

SK: Ben Simmons with a jumper is basically young LeBron, so give me that. Embiid ironing out his turnover issues and creating for others would make him an unstoppable two-way force, but I don’t feel like the “hold your breath every time Embiid tumbles to the ground awkwardly” feeling will ever completely go away. Simmons can basically guard every position, is a terror in transition, and has prodigious court vision with the ball in his hands. Close the only glaring hole in his game and it’s hard to imagine what he wouldn’t be able to do on a basketball court.

SO: Does the passing that Joel Embiid adds create fewer turnovers? If not, then I’ll take Simmons with a jumper.

TM: Simmons would have a bigger effect on the team. He has generational talent and if he can develop that jump shot defenses will have to respect him as such.

GM: What’s an effective jumper? A mid-range shot? A three-point shot? It’s certainly very, very close and I’m glad we have both guys on the team. Even though the ball is in Ben’s hands more at this point, I lean towards Joel and his two-way impact right now. He’s perennially a DPOY candidate, protecting the rim with ferocity and has the length + foot-speed to cover the perimeter in a pinch. Offensively, the only thing he is missing is a more consistent 3-point shot and better playmaking out of double teams. If you are giving me the advanced passing traits, JoJo becomes unguardable and moves closer to that Olajuwon ceiling we want him to reach.

JH: Embiid is the better overall talent, but there would need to be additional attributes added into his game to tip the scales in his favor. Simmons conducts the team’s offense and has significant input on how the offense fares on a nightly basis. Sprinkle in a knockdown jumper into his game and it’s lights out for the defenders.

CT: I guess it depends on how effective this effective jumper is. If it is enough to have defenders play even just two feet closer to Ben, it may be the most unfair matchup in basketball. If the jumper is just good enough like LeBron’s was, Simmons will be able to blow by 90 percent of opposing players.

KFL: Who would it please you most to see as Joel Embiid’s no. 1 trolling victim for the upcoming season?

AR: My default answer is always Russell Westbrook, but it was pointed out to me that Enes Kanter is pretty Twitter-savvy. After doing research on Kanter, I realize that either would be fabulous.

SK: I’m really hoping to see the ongoing, but underdeveloped, feud between Embiid and Russell Westbrook explored more this season. It’s funny when Embiid comes at someone like Aron Baynes, but Joel is a star now, and needs to troll someone of similar stature for this to really feel noteworthy. Give me a huge Embiid block of Westbrook and a post-game Instagram location of ”Cupcake Factory”, please.

SO: His trolling of Hassan Whiteside has turned the Heat center into a pumpkin during the playoffs who alienated his entire team, so I’m not sure we need more of that. I’m going back to the Andre Drummond well, because Pistons fans do not take losing to Embiid well.

TM: Finding a way to get under Kawhi Leonard’s skin this season would be amazing to see. Considering the Raptors new franchise player looks like he’s never spoken a word in his entire life, if Embiid can get him to open his mouth we may have a new enemy of the Process.

GM: This is probably an extension of the Donovan Mitchell and Ben Simmons debates with the Jazz fanbase, but I’d love to see Embiid school Rudy Gobert in this season’s matchups with Utah. Roasting the defending DPOY candidate would be something JoJo would relish. Westbrook would be a close second.

JH: Just obliterate Grayson Allen on a poster.

CT: I like to think Joel trolls the unknown guys to help put them in the spotlight so I just hope it is someone super obscure. Let’s go with Marvin Williams

KFL: What free agent do you have your eyes set on for next summer?

AR: Kevin Durant. Just kidding. Realistically, Klay Thompson.

SK: It’s still Kawhi Leonard. Hopefully, Kawhi can’t stand the wintry cold north of the Wall and the Raptors don’t put together a deep playoff run to convince him Toronto is the place to stay long-term. Then, Philadelphia has as good a basketball situation as any team with max cap space to offer Kawhi next summer. Sure, southern California is home, but the Lakers still have to go through the Warriors in the West and would he really want to play in LeBron’s shadow?

SO: NO NEW FRIENDS! NO NEW FRIENDS! NO NEW FRIENDS! (I would welcome Klay Thompson, no matter how remote that possibility is.)

TM: I would love to see the Sixers go after Khris Middleton next offseason. He brings a lot to the table and I don’t think Milwaukee utilizes him to his full potential. He would slide into the starting SG spot and bring a great combo of outside shooting and strong defense with his big build. He may not be a marquee name but his play would fit the Sixers perfectly.

GM: I’m not of the mindset that guys like KD or Kawhi will come here yet, so let’s go with Jimmy Butler. He’s a two-way stud who loves defensive work and can spread the floor. With Simmons and Fultz handling the creation duties while RoCo and Embiid lock down the defensive end, Butler can settle into a nice 3/D role where he can be ultra-efficient with less pressure.

JH: Khris Middleton checks a lot of boxes in what you’re looking for from a wing. Dependable shooter along the perimeter, creates his own shot, locates teammates and counters a lot of opposing offensive swingmen. From a second-round pick to a max-type player, Middleton is textbook if Klay Thompson re-signs with Golden State.

CT: Bring me Klay. J.J. Redick is going to lose his shot eventually (or at least be less efficient) and if the Sixers style can stay mostly the same while upgrading at the two-guard, I’m in. Of course, this answer could change if Fultz becomes the starting caliber guard that we want him to be.

KFL: Brett Brown is starring in a film. What’s his character’s name and background, what is the film’s tagline and plot, and who is the antagonist?

AR: Brett Brown as Nick Nolte’s character in “Blue Chips”. The image of Brown kicking a basketball in the rafters is just too good.

SK: Hey Hollywood, here’s a multi-million dollar idea: a remake of the Kevin Bacon-classic The Air Up There, with Brett Brown in the Jimmy Dolan role. Show Brett and his Bos-tralian accent combing through both the African plains and Australian outback (with special cameos from Embiid and Simmons, as themselves) to find the next great basketball prodigy to bring back to the States. With Brett’s playing background, I know he can pull off the “Jimmy Dolan Shake and Bake”.

SO: I would cast Brett Brown as himself in the movie they eventually make about the Process, obviously called Trust The Process: The Movie, or alternatively, TTP:TM. I assume Mike Weber will be involved in the screenplay, but I want credits. Brett is cast as himself as no one in Hollywood would be able to replicate his accent. The films tagline plot, and antagonist are all self-explanatory.

TM: For all you “The Office” fans, let’s see Brett Brown in the role of “Michael Scarn” from the famous film Threat Level Midnight.

JH: Brett Brown is Mr. Miyagi and Markelle Fultz is Daniel LaRusso. Brad Stevens is the sensei of Celtics Kai with Jayson Tatum as his star pupil. Fultz deals with early adversity but overcomes his primary challenger to become the 2017 draft class’ top talent in a playoff duel.


I am excited to see what the LB community has to say in response to these questions. Leave your answers in the comments below!