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The Philadelphia 76ers mobbed Furkan Korkmaz after his winning buzzer-beater in Portland on Nov. 2, but what they have cherished more than the win is the night that unfolded afterward. Tobias Harris organized a gathering at a local club to celebrate. Every player on the trip came but Al Horford, who says he was more or less a DNP-OLD.

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They toasted Korkmaz. At one point, Josh Richardson approached Korkmaz and asked what he was feeling. “This is the best day of my life,” Korkmaz replied with an earnestness that surprised Richardson. Mike Scott raised his voice an octave to imitate Korkmaz’s giddiness in a separate conversation at the club: “‘I never felt like this beforeeeeeeee!’”

Three nights later at the Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City, Ben Simmons texted his half-brother, Sean Tribe, to see what he was up to. Tribe responded that Richardson and Joel Embiid were watching the Chicago Bulls-Los Angeles Lakers game with some team staff in the hotel lounge, and suggested Simmons join. Simmons came and watched with Embiid as LeBron led a huge comeback. It struck several people — including Simmons — that such a gathering would not have happened last season.

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“Definitely,” Simmons told ESPN. “The chemistry is much better. Guys are giving up their time to bond.”

After Game 7 of their epic series against the Toronto Raptors, the parent of one Sixer confided to higher-ups that the team’s chemistry felt off, sources say — that they seemed like a group that would rather ride home in separate cars.

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Kawhi Leonard’s epic four-bounce shot plunged those Sixers into the unknown. Three starters — Harris, JJ Redick, and Jimmy Butler — entered free agency. Philly had given up two popular Process holdovers — Robert Covington and Dario Saric — for Butler in the first of two mega-trades that roiled the roster. In the playoffs, he became the centerpiece of their offense.

But on June 30, there was no five-year maximum offer for Butler, multiple sources say. Perhaps the Sixers pivoted after learning of Horford’s interest in joining. Perhaps they were concerned about tension between Butler and some within the team, including on the coaching staff. Maybe those two things were interrelated. Like every team chasing Butler, they probably wondered how he would age.

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They effectively replaced him with Horford and Richardson on long-term deals. Every key player is under contract for at least the next two seasons. Finally, calm.

After years of absurdist drama — the Process, the resignation letter, Markelle Fultz, the Bryan Colangelo Twitter scandal, last season’s roster upheaval — the Sixers are counting on a new tranquility to grease the team’s development.

Harris and Horford are ringleaders in organizing dinners. Attendance has been robust — “sometimes 14 or 15 guys,” Harris says. He and Horford are Michelin star aesthetes. At the upscale Italian restaurant Barolo Grill in Denver, some younger teammates joked they could not read the menu, Harris says. Embiid is a steak guy. Harris has resolved (for now) to just pick the best steakhouse in each city.

“That stuff is important,” Horford says. “The longer you advance, the more you need everyone connected.” Maybe some bond formed deep in the night will spur the hard conversation that nudges Simmons into shooting jumpers, or Embiid into focusing even more on his conditioning.

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Then again, despite whatever strains hovered last season, the Sixers might have been one bounce from the conference finals — perhaps from a championship.

Good vibes are fragile. If Philly’s offense — 16th in points per possession — flounders, caught between tentpole stars who don’t yet complement each other, the inevitable frustration could create fissures. The relationships that really matter are those between Simmons, Embiid and coach Brett Brown.

“You really find out about culture,” Harris says, “when you drop five games in a row.”

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The Sixers have lost five of their last nine, but the starting lineup has been dominant when intact. Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
On the Sixers’ practice court, Brown sometimes outlines two rectangular areas along the baseline on either side of the paint, extending a few feet toward each corner and up to the foul line. Brown calls it the “low zone,” aka the dunker spot, and it is where Simmons should often be when he’s not handling the ball or spotting up. It is an imperfect solution to the Sixers’ defining structural issue: Their point guard can’t, or won’t, shoot. (His free throw attempts have also dropped by almost half, slightly alarming.) Hanging in the low zone is a way of keeping Simmons productive — as a lob threat, cutter, offensive rebounder — when he is otherwise in the way.

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Brown and Simmons both harbor ambitions for Simmons well beyond the low zone. Brown says he has designed plays specifically for Simmons to shoot corner 3s; Simmons had taken none until draining his first career triple against the Knicks Wednesday night. “I want him in the corners,” Brown says. “I want him shooting 3s — on his time frame.”

But if Simmons arrives in the low zone, he needs to stay there, Brown says. “Two inches outside that, and it’s the dead zone,” Brown says. “You’re killing plays. You’re in Joel’s way. You will either be in the corner, or the low zone. Anything else is unacceptable.”

PHILADELPHIA — The 76ers entered Saturday night’s game against the Miami Heat hoping to prove a point.

Their old friend Jimmy Butler was back in the City of Brotherly Love for the first time since leaving the Sixers and joining the Heat in a sign-and-trade deal this offseason. Philadelphia had followed a 5-0 start to the season by going 5-5 over its previous 10 games, leading to renewed questions about the way its roster fit together.

But then Saturday night’s game began. And by the time it was over, the Sixers had secured a 113-86 victory over the Heat, one that sent a loud and clear message to the rest of the NBA: They’re going to be just fine.

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“We all stepped up,” Philadelphia point guard Ben Simmons said. “We’ve had too many games where we waited too late, until the fourth and third quarters, and I think with this game we showed throughout the whole game we can hold that [energy].”

The Heat were the unfortunate recipients of that effort. It isn’t often a 27-point margin of victory undersells the performance by the victor. This game, however, was one of them. The Sixers led wire to wire, and led by as many as 41 points. All five starters finished with a plus/minus of at least plus-28, and four of them scored in double figures — led by a season-high 32 points from shooting guard Josh Richardson, who was playing in his first game against his old team as well. Overall, the five-man lineup of Simmons, Richardson, Tobias Harris, Al Horford, and Joel Embiid outscored Miami 33-10 in only 11 minutes on the floor together.

And the one starter who didn’t score in double figures — Simmons — hounded Butler relentlessly to start the game, getting him out of sorts and allowing Philadelphia to immediately jump out to an early lead it didn’t look back from.

Joel Embiid and Jimmy Butler were teammates in Philadelphia last season, but Butler’s return to South Philly was spoiled in a decisive 76ers win. Eric Hartline/USA TODAY
It was a game that perfectly encapsulated the vision for this team that general manager Elton Brand had when he put it together this summer. Richardson, Harris and Horford, all of whom have struggled to shoot the ball to start the season, went a combined 25-for-35 from the field, and 9-for-13 from 3-point range. The Sixers controlled the boards, forced turnovers and hit open 3-pointers.

But what particularly stood out was the way Philadelphia smothered Miami defensively. It was reminiscent of the performance the Sixers had in the season opener against the Boston Celtics. Like Boston in that game, Philadelphia’s defense forced Miami to play far faster than it wanted to. With so much size and speed across their lineup, the Sixers shrink the court in ways no other NBA team can — and it takes some getting used to.

“They’re definitely unique,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “The way they protect the paint is really unique, and you really have to work your offense with a little more energy, a little more commitment, a little more calories burned.

“The last couple games, we’ve been getting great looks on the initial trigger,” Spoelstra continued. “Against a team like this, with that kind of size, you’re going to have to be a little more aggressive, while still being patient. It’s a balance that you have to have.”

The Heat didn’t have it Saturday night — in large part because the Sixers didn’t let them.

PHILADELPHIA — It finally happened.

After more than two seasons and in his 172nd NBA game, Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons made a 3-pointer.

“It feels good to put work in in the summer and it pays off,” Simmons said after Philadelphia’s 109-104 win over the New York Knicks at Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday night.

The moment 76ers fans have been waiting for came with 8:20 to go in the first quarter, when Simmons caught a swing pass from forward Furkan Korkmaz in the corner in front of Philadelphia’s bench, squared up to the basket and knocked down the shot. He turned and calmly ran downcourt while the fans went wild.

Simmons said he didn’t notice the reaction, but he is aware of the attention that has been paid to his shooting — as is his coach, Brett Brown. But even Brown, who has tried to tamp down the speculation about when — or if — Simmons will start taking and making 3s on a regular basis, said it was an important step to knock down a triple in an NBA game.

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“Like I’ve said for a while now, other people get more excited about it than I do. But how can that not be a good thing?” Brown said. “And really, if we’re all honest, that’s the first legitimate sort of 3 he’s taken. A lot of them have been heaves at the end of periods and stuff like that. But I think his footwork, his confidence — he rose up and he didn’t blink.

“He looked great.”

Simmons finished with 18 points, 13 assists and seven rebounds, with his defense and increasing of the tempo in the second half helping the Sixers (9-5) recover from a 17-point third-quarter deficit to beat New York (4-11) and remain undefeated at home.

But for as well as Simmons played, it was his shot that was the biggest topic of postgame discussion.

It had been almost four years — since Nov. 30, 2015, when Simmons was a freshman at LSU playing against the College of Charleston — since he made a 3-pointer in a competitive game. It was the first time this season Simmons had even attempted a 3-pointer after an offseason full of speculation that it could become a bigger part of his game. Video of him taking them in pickup games surfaced this offseason and again after he made his first triple of any kind in a Sixers uniform, during a preseason game last month against the Guangzhou Long-Lions of the Chinese Basketball Association.

“It’s not that I don’t need to do it,” Simmons said during the preseason, when asked if he needs to add a 3-point shot to his game. “I’m confident in saying I’m not a great shooter. I’m getting better, though.”

Besides the act of actually making a 3, the shot stood out for several other reasons. It was the first time in Simmons’ career that he attempted a corner 3-pointer, as well as the first time he attempted one of a catch-and-shoot variety, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

It also was just the third of Simmons’ 17 3-point attempts in regular-season games (he also missed one during the playoffs) that came within the flow of regular offense. Both of the others came last season — on Feb. 10 against the visiting Los Angeles Lakers and Feb. 25 against the New Orleans Pelicans.

Ben Simmons’ first official NBA 3-pointer came in his 172nd game and followed an 0-for-17 start to his career from beyond the arc. Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images
“We need him to shoot,” Sixers center Joel Embiid said. “It’s great to see him make it, take it, most importantly make it. That’s great. He’s going to keep getting better and make it happen. But it was nothing special. We see it in practice. We’ve seen it a lot, so it’s not surprising to me.”

Simmons’ shooting has become such a topic of discussion thanks to the amount he has already accomplished in his time in the NBA. The No. 1 pick in the 2016 NBA draft, Simmons was the 2018 Rookie of the Year (he missed his first full season with a broken foot) and was an All-Star last season. This summer, the Sixers agreed to a five-year, $170 million maximum contract extension with Simmons to keep him paired with Embiid for years to come.

“It’s happening,” Brown said. “He’s 23 years old. He’s gone from a college 4 man to an NBA point guard to an NBA All-Star and was rewarded with a significant contract. His progression has been pretty good. So this is a small step, but a step, toward the other pieces of his growth.”

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The Philadelphia 76ers are on a quest to win a title in the 2019-20 season. In order to do that. They will need contributions from just about everybody to make sure they’re in a position to win.

One player who deserves more playing time is rookie Matisse Thybulle. The Sixers first-round rookie was a fixture in coach Brett Brown’s rotation to begin the season when the team started 5-0, but when Ben Simmons missed two games with a shoulder injury, Thybulle played sparingly as Brown wanted to see what he had in Raul Neto and Trey Burke. When Simmons returned, Thybulle got his spot back in the rotation.

It should not have to be that way as he has earned a spot and should play every game. Here are three reasons why he should be in the rotation every night:

Impact

Thybulle is such a big defensive presence out on the floor for only being a rookie and his defensive rating is at a 97 to begin the season. He was leading the league in total steals before being pushed out of the rotation and he averages 3.4 steals and 2.4 blocks per 36 minutes. His ability to play the passing lanes and his anticipation for blocks is impressive for a kid so young. On top of that, when Thybulle plays at least 12 minutes in a game, the Sixers are 7-1.

Development

When he was drafted, the Sixers wanted Thybulle to become the team’s next 3-and-D player. In order to achieve that goal, he needs to be out there and get real NBA minutes. His 3-point percentage is at 29.2% to begin the season on two attempts per game. That number can go up when given the reps and the minutes to continue to work on his game in a real NBA setting. He has that 3-and-D potential in his game, his defense is terrific, but he needs the court time to get better on the offensive end and get those reps to develop.

Team strategy

The Sixers are a team built to be dominant on the defensive end. Brown had been upset with the team’s defensive effort in road losses to the Orlando Magic and the Oklahoma City Thunder, but then praised it in the win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday where Thybulle played over 15 minutes. If the defense is such a big thing on the mind of the Sixers, why not play the guy who specializes in defense? Thybulle should be receiving 12-18 minutes every night. His offense hinders him a bit, but his defensive work is something to really behold. He’s a guy that should be in this rotation every night.

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The Philadelphia 76ers have been able to use the Delaware Blue Coats, their G-League affiliate, very well in developing their young talent. Currently, the Sixers have their former first round pick from the 2018 NBA Draft, Zhaire Smith, playing with the Blue Coats. Sadly, he missed Delaware’s first game of a back-to-back due to an injury.

It’s good that the injury doesn’t appear to be severe on the surface, but this is obviously the last thing that the second year player needed. After dealing with multiple health issues his rookie season and only playing six games with the 76ers at the end of last year, the last thing he needed was any type of injury early on in the G-League season.

Before this injury, Smith had started the first two games for the Blue Coats, but hasn’t played up to the status of being a first round pick. With Delaware, he’s averaging 11.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.0 steal, while going 45.0 percent from the floor and14.3 percent on 3-pointers. Outside of the 3-point shooting, Smith isn’t playing bad, but he’s not dominate like a former first round pick should be in the G-League.

His fellow Sixers teammates that are also playing with the Blue Coats are straight up outplaying him. Rookie wing Marial Shayok has been playing insane during his first three games. He’s averaging 35.0 points and 9.3 rebounds. Norvel Pelle is averaging 6.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.0 blocks in one game. Jonah Bolden recently joined Delaware and exploded in the one game he played in. He had 34 points and nine rebounds against the Long Island Nets.

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PHILADELPHIA — Ben Simmons became the richest professional athlete in Australia’s history after signing a $170 million extension with the Philadelphia 76ers in July. But the NBA All-Star’s fame, money and stature did not protect him from what he believes was racial profiling by the Crown Casino in Melbourne, Australia, in early August.

Upon entering the casino, Simmons said, he and his black friends were asked for identification while a white friend was not. Video footage showed Simmons saying to casino security, “I find it so crazy that the only guy who doesn’t get checked to go into the casino is this [white] guy. They didn’t let me in, or him, or him, or this guy. Wow, we’ve got a long way to go.”

The casino has denied the allegations.

Back in Philadelphia for the start of the NBA season, the incident is still heavy on Simmons’ mind.

“The first thing that comes to my mind is, ‘OK, obviously it’s not a random thing. This is you picking us out,’ ” Simmons told The Undefeated. “It didn’t make us feel good. You’ve probably been in situations where you felt lesser or just made you feel lesser of a person or just not good about yourself. But it wasn’t really about me not feeling good about myself. It was me knowing that’s not right, and me letting them know it’s not right.

“And knowing that there’s other people that have definitely experienced the same thing but can’t say anything because they don’t have the same platform. They can say something, but they might not reach as many people. And knowing I was able to do that and bring awareness to the situation, I was happy about it, and I didn’t really care what the media was going to say, what people were going to say, because it doesn’t matter.

“Everybody should be respected and treated the same way.”

Simmons recently sat down with The Undefeated to talk about dealing with race issues in Australia and the United States. Here are excerpts of the interview.

What gives you the strength to speak about your issue at the casino incident publicly?

I’m never going to back down, because I know I wasn’t in the wrong. It wasn’t a situation where I was making things up. It is what it was. It is what it is. …

And I’m not afraid to let anybody know how I feel about it because I am who I am. At the end of the day, I’m from Australia. I was born there, I was raised. It’s where I’m from. And I want that respect too.

What response did you get to your comments about the incident at that time?

I had many people reach out and tell me they felt the same way and had similar experiences within different places and even the same place. But there was also a lot of negativity that came with it. There was a lot of people saying, ‘Well, you think you should just be let in because you’re this and that.’ And it had nothing to do with that.

And that’s just people talking and just thinking that it’s something that it wasn’t when they don’t really know the situation. Then there’s also the side of people who really understood how I felt, which was amazing. And I was glad I was able to bring that to people’s eyes and let people feel comfortable about saying, ‘You know what? I felt the same way when it happened.’

You are the executive producer of an Australian sports documentary called The Australian Dream, about Australian Rules Football star Adam Goodes, who is indigenous and dealt with racism. What can you tell us about it?

It was really about how he carried himself and really opening people’s eyes about saying certain things during a game. No matter what it is, it is disrespectful. And everybody should be treated equally. … He was called a ‘monkey’ or ‘ape’ on social media for months. People booing him every time he touched the ball. He handled it. I got a lot of respect for Adam the way he handled it.

I don’t know if I would’ve handled it the same way. But he handled it the right way. And I think that’s one thing that everybody respects about him, and I’m really appreciative of him and his people.

You plan on showing the film to your teammates. What do you want them to gain when they watch it?

I think the main thing from my team is just the character we need to hold ourselves with and how we handle situations. Because I know most of my guys on my team obviously are mixed or from another place in the world. So, they’ve obviously dealt with certain situations and I think it’s just a good representation of how to carry yourself. Wrong, right, you should use your voice and your platform.

How is it to have that kind of platform now?

I love it. I love being able to be somebody who kids can look up to and be a leader and an example for the new generation coming through. I’ve always looked up to guys like Magic [Johnson], LeBron [James], D-Wade [Dwyane Wade]. So, I feel like it’s my time to really step into those shoes and be somebody who can represent Australia and my people back home the right way.

You come from a mixed-race family. Your mother’s white from Australia. Your dad’s African American. What was it like growing up in a multicultural family in Australia?

It was normal for me. To me, white, black, it’s all the same. But then it’s not because there’s so many different problems that continue to go on in the world. And I think, over time, where I grew up, I kind of learned that. But as a kid you don’t really realize it.

But I’ve had certain situations where I’ve been called the N-word from other kids at a young age. And the one thing my dad told me was, ‘Never take that from anybody. Never let anybody be racist towards you or make you feel a certain way, because it’s not right.’ That’s the one thing that’s sort of stuck with me.

But growing up in a family where everybody’s different was amazing because I was able to just learn and see different cultures and things like that, especially, growing up in Australia. Culturally, it’s a very diverse country. I’ve seen so many different things and then, obviously moving to America … was a huge change for me. I’ve been to so many different areas. My family is from New York and Australia. I lived in Florida [for prep school], went to Louisiana [State University]. So, I’ve experienced a bit of everything.

But I love it. I love being able to teach people and educate people on things I’ve seen and what’s right and wrong in terms of different cultures and the way people should be treated.

When did you first feel like you could be viewed differently as mixed-race or a black kid?

I’ve never been scared to be different. And I know that because I know who I am as a person, so I’ve always been confident with who I am, no matter what people say. …

Everybody’s different. Tall, skinny, fat, short. Everybody is different. Black, white. And that’s just the way the world is. But I see it differently just because I’ve been to so many different places to where everybody’s different. Even if it’s two black guys, two white guys, they’re both different. Everyone’s individuals in their own way. And you should be proud of who you are, no matter what the situation or circumstances are. …

There’s not one instance where I’ve been like, ‘I’m black?’ I’ve known this. I was proud of it. It was cool to be half-American, African American and be in Australia. I love that because I’m looking at guys who were my role models, like Magic Johnson, LeBron [James], Dwyane Wade, just different people, Tiger Woods, guys like that. I’m like, ‘I want to be them.’ So, I’m not worried about what I look like or the color of my skin or me being mixed. I love that.

Anything that you noticed racismwise when you came to the United States?

The best example would be just seeing Confederate flags on the back of trucks, stickers, even in certain restaurants in Louisiana. I was like, ‘Yo, this is different.’ I wouldn’t go in certain places if I saw the flag.

But some of my teammates were oblivious to it to where they would go in and I’m like, ‘I kind of want to go in there and rip that down, then I’ll come in.’ But it’s things like that. Just knowing there is still that side of racism and people who are narrow-minded towards other people and other people’s beliefs and just people of a different race.

Kawhi Leonard eliminated your Sixers with a buzzer-beating jump shot in Game 7 of the 2019 Eastern Conference semifinals. How painful was that?

It wasn’t as painful as it seemed or looked for me, personally. And I think that’s just because I’m the type of player, if we don’t win, there’s a reason. And I believe that my time and our team’s time is coming and we’re going to be in sync when the time is ready.

But just experiences and things like that help you grow as a player and help you get better. So, it’s disappointing. Obviously, we want to win a championship, but we got this season, we’ve got a whole new team, everybody is more prepared. And I think it’s going to be a fun year. So, I’m looking forward to just getting better and achieving that goal of winning a championship.

What kept you up and positive after that?

You have got to get better. There’s nothing you can do. The shots happened. They’re going to move on. Nothing stops. So, it’s like, I’m not going to sit here and keep worrying about something that’s already happened. I got to continue to focus on what can help me be better in the future and continue to get better. Otherwise, I’m just going to waste time.

Can you talk about the changes that have been made with the team?

I’m excited. This is the first real team we’ve had where we’re able to start the season with a full roster, and know guys are going to be there. With the addition of Josh [Richardson], Al [Horford], and a few other guys, I think we have a great team, but more so great people.

And I think that’s huge on a team to win championships. You got to have everybody in sync. Everybody has to be accountable for what they’re doing on the floor, and you’ve got to hold each other accountable.

What are your thoughts on Tobias Harris re-signing and “The Big 3” with him, yourself and Joel Embiid?

I’m superexcited that he’s coming back. First off, he’s an amazing player, and then off the court he’s a good person, and I can relate to him. He helps me get better. He wants to see me do well, so we work a lot. And then, of course, you got an All-Star in Jo. I believe we got multiple All-Stars in Al, me, Jo, Tobias. But it’s an exciting time, especially with ‘The Big 3,’ like this one. We’re so young. We have an opportunity to do something so special.

Jimmy Butler left to Miami in free agency. You didn’t play with him for a long time, but what was that like, and how’d you feel about his departure?

He’s an amazing player. His work ethic is out of this world. He works hard, and he wants to win. … He taught me a lot, just the way to carry myself as a professional. So, I got a lot of respect for Jimmy.

What needs to happen for this team to potentially put a championship banner up in Philly this year?

We have to hold each other accountable, and we got to have that championship mindset. We have to be selfless and really just be locked in as a team. We can’t worry about individual stats or achievements and accolades. It has to be team first.

What would it mean to put that banner up?

I think about it all the time. I think about having a float down Broad Street, holding a championship trophy and knowing we did something special for the city. But we want to do it multiple times also. So, it’s one day at a time.

Will you have a stronger leadership voice now?

Me re-signing kind of helped. And this summer, also, just finding who I was as a player again. I kind of lost that last season to where I was just going through the motions, and I wasn’t playing the game. I knew how to play, and I kind of found that this summer, and I kind of feel confident going onto the floor and saying, ‘I’ve prepared awesome for this, and I’ve worked harder than anybody here, and I’m going to show everybody.’ So, for me, I’m going to miss shots, I’m going to make shots, but I think it’s just about taking them and just playing my game, playing with confidence.

How do you change vocally or as a leader now?

Just being more aware. I’m the type of person who, when I walk in the room, I’m kind of quiet, and I kind of get a feel for everybody and what’s going on in my situation, and I think the past two years or three years I’ve been with the Sixers, that’s kind of developed to now to where I’m very confident in where I know what I’m doing, but I have a lot more to learn. And I think guys respect that.

So, when you have that five-year, $170 million extension in front of you to sign, what kind of emotions do you have?

I just remember signing it in L.A. on a rooftop with my parents. It hasn’t really hit me yet. I look at the numbers, and I’m seeing like $170 million, and I’m like, ‘That’s a lot of money.’ That’s the first thing, and I’m grateful to be able to be in this situation and help my family and friends and things like that.

But besides that, now I feel confident. I’m like, ‘OK, they’ve re-signed me for this reason and this amount of money. I got to do my job, and I can’t really worry about outside noise, or what’s going on, because I know I’m valuable to this team, and I can bring a lot to the team.’ So, I’m confident.

How do you keep that outside noise from distracting you?

Especially with my age, we grew up with social media. … It’s pretty much bulls—. So, I don’t go on Twitter. I’ll be on Instagram and things like that, but I just don’t really care for it because at the end of the day, it’s all fake. It’s not real.

Things are going on, but it’s not real news. It’s not things like that can help me. So, I prefer to just be home, be with my friends and do normal things like that, be with my dogs and things. To me, it’s all fluff. It’s all fake stuff. People can say what they want, but it could be a guy from [anywhere] with two followers talking about, ‘You need to do this …’ How are you going to tell me what to do? I don’t tell you what to do. …

It shouldn’t matter. There’s no point in it mattering. If I use my energy to care about what other people are going to say, what they think, then I’m wasting energy on something that doesn’t need to be wasted on, where I could be using that energy for something else, being creative or doing something I love to do, and worrying about things I want to worry about instead of being stressed out and anxious and things like that just because somebody says something. And mentally it’s tough for a lot of players to deal with things like that. But I kind of found a peace where I’m happy now, and I really don’t care about that stuff.

What does the city of Philadelphia mean to you?

It’s home for me now. When I’m in L.A. [in the offseason], I’m like, ‘Damn, I kind of want to go home.’ So, people kind of find it funny, but to me it’s just where I live now. Everything I have is here. I got family, friends here, and I just love to be back in Philly. I feel comfortable here. I love the fans here. The people are amazing, great restaurants, and I think it’s a very cultural city, and there’s just something I love about. There is something different about Philly that you don’t really feel from other cities.

So, Ben Simmons has a free day in Philly and feels like getting out. What do you do?

I do a lot of random things. And my friends, Taj, all my friends know that I’ll be up for anything. Could be paintballing one day. It could be taking my dogs to the park. It could be just driving down by the water docks, going to the ‘Rocky’ steps on my bike, things like that. So, it’s anything, really.

Can you talk about the Ben Simmons Family Foundation and what you’re hoping to accomplish with it?

We reach out and help different charities, whether it’s kids, people who need food, homeless people, just different things where we’re just trying to reach on and branch and trying to connect with all these different communities and just try to help people the best way we can. Whether it’s just being there for support, talking to them, coming to see them, giving kids new uniforms or shoes, whatever it is. Just being able to give them somebody that can reach out to or talk to or just know they have that support.

I know, growing up, everybody wants that support and know they have somebody backing them. So, I feel like if I’m able to give that to certain people, it will bring that positivity to them and that energy that everybody wants.

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Earlier today, a plethora of NBA teams ushered in the start of the 2019-20 season by holding their annual Media Day. This event represents the first time that fans will have a chance to see the players that their favorite teams acquired during the summer in an official capacity, whether answering questions from media or rocking their new uniforms.

One of the players that will be participating in that Media Day experience is former Iowa State guard Marial Shayok. After graduating, he was lucky enough to get selected with the 54th pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. Shortly after that selected, the 6’6 prospect was signed to a two-way deal, where he joined G League veteran Norvel Pelle. With that deal, he’ll be at the team’s Media Day event alongside stars like Ben Simmons or Joel Embiid. Although that core and most of the 76ers roster will deservedly receive more attention at Media Day, it doesn’t mean that fans should overlook the former Big 12 product.

The guard’s time in that conference was limited as he spent the first three years of his college career with Virginia. In that time, he stood as an unspectacular rotation guy that averaged 5.7 points, 2 rebounds and 1 assist on 45% from the field and 37% from beyond the arc in 17 minutes per game. With production like that, it made sense for the Ottawa born player to seek other collegiate opportunities. Fortunately for the guard, Iowa State was looking for help at the wing after Naz Mitrou-Long, Deonte Burton and Matt Thomas all graduated.

After spending the 2017-18 year on the sidelines thanks to the NCAA’s transfer rules, Shayok was immediately able to step in and shine for the Cyclones. In 33 minutes per game, he averaged 17.9 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2 assists on 50% from the field and 39% from beyond the arc. Those numbers allowed him to career-best 61% True Shooting Percentage.

Unsurprisingly, the combination of tremendous volume and efficiency as a shooter pushed Shayok to get named to the All-Big 12 First team and the Big 12-’s All-Newcomer Team. In addition to getting props from his conference, the 6’5 guard was also one of the dozens of prospects featured as an Honorable Mention for the AP’s All-American team.

Those accolades and tremendous numbers were the product of Shayok’s well-rounded offensive game that allowed him to score in a variety of ways. During his lone season with Iowa State, he showed an ability to shine as a mid-range shooter, on-ball driver and perimeter threat.

Along with those four traits, his work as a perimeter threat stands out as his most prominent skill. That’s evident from a statistical standpoint as 40% of 13.6 attempts per game came from beyond the arc (5.4). Shayok’s reliance on long-range jumpers makes sense when you watch him play, as the guard has success whether he’s working in the catch-and-shoot or using dribble moves to get one. Among those two traits, his off-the-dribble work is the most appealing as the Iowa State alum loves to use a slick step-backs to create instant separation from his opponent.

An example of that is evident in the clip below from Iowa State’s January 5th game against Kansas. Immediately after receiving the ball from his teammate, Shayok does a mean pump fake move that pushes the Kansas defender to go airborne. While that defender struggles to find his footing, the 6’5 guard moves to the right, takes a step forward, and then pushes back to hit the open perimeter shot.

Shayok’s ability to use dribble moves to create his own shot is also evident from inside the perimeter. During his lone season at Iowa State, he was a fantastic mid-range shooter that hit 48% of his shots from 13 feet to the NCAA three-point line, according to shot charts from The Stepien. In addition to step-backs, the 24-year-old guard knows how to use off-ball screens to create some real separation between him and his defender. The video below is an excellent example of that as he uses dribble moves to the left and right to temporarily trap the defender in that screen before hitting the mid-range jumper.

Another way that those handles help the Iowa State out on the offensive end is through driving to the paint. Of course, this process starts on the perimeter as he can utilize a quick first step or hesitation moves to work past that initial defender. Following that initial defeat, he can complete his drive to both the left and right side of the court. When he reaches that destination, Shayok seems most comfortable with finishing at the rim with his right hand. While it may be disappointing that he isn’t ambidextrous in this area, the 6’5 guard is still a fantastic finisher as he’s shown a tremendous ability to finish in traffic. That knack helped him out as he shot an efficient 67% at the rim, according to The Stepien’s shot charts.

The one area where Shayok will need to improve during his rookie season would be as a facilitator. When you look at his college career with both Virginia and Iowa State, the numbers don’t look good as he averaged 1.3 assists per game with a 1.0 Ast/TO ratio. Although those low numbers may be blamed on his lesser role with Virginia or being a score-first threat with Iowa State, they’re still concerning when you consider how most NBA/G League teams look for multiple players to share the facilitating load. That’s especially the case with guards like our current subject, whose offensive presence and ability to drive can create a lot of opportunities for the other players on the court.

While those numbers are causes for concern, the Iowa State alum showed flashes of being a solid facilitator. An example of that is evident in the clip below where he’s able to drive closer to the rim before throwing up a beautiful alley-oop pass to forward Cameron Lard. If he exhibits more players like that at the G League level with the Delaware Blue Coats, those worries could quickly go away.

Speaking of his future run with the Delaware Blue Coats, the 24-year-old guard honestly has a chance to be one of the best rookies in the G League. Because from day 1, he’ll be a threat that teams will need to keep an eye on due to the ability to consistently hit off-the-dribble or catch-and-shoot jumpers both from mid-range and beyond the arc. Moreover, once teams start to focus start to guard tightly to prevent open jumpers, Shayok can use a hesitation move or quick first step to drive to the rim.

Those skills are solid enough that he should remain effective despite his weaknesses as a facilitator and defender. In regards to his play on the other end of the court, he’s pretty solid when it comes to defending guards one-on-one as his quick feet and 7-foot wingspan can prevent opposing guards from getting a good shot. However, the concerns come off-ball as Shayok is prone to ball watching and simply losing focus on his assignment.

An example is seen in the clip below where his focus dissipates once the ball starts to get passed around. Him losing concentration ends up hurting Iowa State’s defense as they need to adjust to deal with the newly opened guard immediately. While they’re eventually able to put a man on him, that isn’t enough as Baylor can score at the rim due to taking advantage of Shayok’s lack of concentration.

Although those defensive issues are a concern, Marial Shayok should still be a great guard for the Delaware Blue Coats when the G League season begins on November 8th.

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After helping the Philadelphia 76ers to a much-needed win over the Charlotte Hornets on Sunday night, Mike Scott took to social media to help out with an idea for a Furkan Korkmaz shirt.

Korkmaz’s reputation in Philadelphia got a huge boost when he hit a game-winning shot against the Portland Trail Blazers last weekend. He’s continued his strong play since then and chipped in 17 points in Sunday night’s win.

As a result, his profile in Philadelphia has continued to grow and a member of the Sixers Twitter world reached out to their followers for ideas for a Korkmaz shirt. Naturally, another Philly cult hero stepped up with a slam dunk suggestion.

Scott’s suggestion is hilarious and would definitely play well on a t-shirt. While there were a few other decent suggestions out there, most of them revolved around the similarities between “Furkan” and another less family-friendly f-word. Scott’s idea was much more creative, and rhyming is always a plus.

Now, we’ll just have to wait to see if the shirt makes its way into the closets of Philly fans.

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Oh, what a difference a season can make. While the Miami Heat were busy taking care of the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night, the Philadelphia 76ers were handling some business of their own against the Boston Celtics. Although they lost Jimmy Butler to the Heat, former Heat swingman Josh Richardson now plays in Philly.

While Josh Richardson had a pretty good game in his first-ever game with his new club, going for 17 points, six rebounds, two assists, a steal, and two blocks, that isn’t the story we are here to tell. After the game and as customary after most professional sporting contests are played, Josh Richardson spoke to the media. It was what he had to say in the press conference that really got our antennae up.

“They were on time. That was great.”

Josh Richardson on #Sixers fans pic.twitter.com/1RLHq4vfVZ

— Dave Uram (@MrUram) October 24, 2019

Yep, you heard it right. Speaking on the 76er fans, he specifically noted how he felt that they were “on time”. This was apparently a shot at the Miami Heat fanbase, who as also apparent by yearly attendance numbers support their team to the utmost, but who are also infamously known to run behind by a second or two at the beginning of games.

While some might call this simply him stating the facts about the whole scenario, it sounds like a jab to most of us. It feels and sounds that way for a few reasons, but mainly because it was unsolicited, while also being out of left field or something that just wasn’t necessary. Here is what Richardson had to say upon learning how his comments had been perceived, via his own Twitter account.

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For the first time this season, all three of the rookies on the Philadelphia 76ers roster saw game actions. Two saw it in the G-League and the other played with the Sixers. Sadly, there was only one rookie that impressed this past week.
20th pick, 2019

Matisse Thybulle played in four games, but only made an impact in two of them. In those two games where he saw significant minutes he totaled five points, four blocks and two steals. When given a decent amount of minutes Thybulle can produce, but right now the rookie appears to be on the fringe of head coach Brett Brown’s rotation. Unless injury occurs, this could be what his role is for the time being.

Marial Shayok had a career high 42 points in his second game of the season for the Delaware Blue Coats, the Sixers G-League affiliate and in his third game he collect a career high 13 rebounds. Shayok missed the second game of a back-to-back for the Blue Coats due to illness, per Keith Pompey of Philly.com. There might be slighter regression in Shayock’s production at some point this year, but he will still be dominating whenever it happens.

After weeks of waiting, Norvel Pelle finally made his season debut with the Blue Coats, sadly it wasn’t his best performance. He shot 1-4 from the floor, had seven turnovers, six fouls and only six points. The only redeeming factors were that he had five rebounds and four blocks. It’s clear based on his production Pelle is dealing with a little bit of rust, but that should wear off as the season progresses.

Both Thybulle and Pelle struggled to find playing time this past week, but at least all three rookies recorded minutes this season with either the Philadelphia 76ers or Blue Coats. Hopefully, within the next couple of weeks each rookie will see growth in their games.

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In 2018-19, the Philadelphia 76ers‘ center rotation was a mess.

Granted, the team was gifted 64 glorious games by the best center in the NBA, ‘The Process’ himself Joel Embiid, but when the two-time All-Star starter wasn’t able to take the court, things got ugly quick.

With five different players logging minutes at the five-spot over the course of the season, including over-the-hill vets like Amir Johnson and Greg Monroe, mid-upside youngsters like Jonah Bolden and Justin Patton, and certified movie star Boban ‘Bobi’ Marjanović, Brett Brown‘s backup plan behind his fragile superstar was shoddy at best.

Elton Brand clearly did not want this issue to persist into 2020.

Between Embiid’s health, and the team’s commitment to playing extended winger Tobias Harris at small forward, the Sixers committed big money to fix their frontcourt woes once and for all by signing certified Embiid-buster Al Horford to a four-year max contract.

And then a week later, Brand struck again and gave Kyle O’Quinn a one-year veteran minimum.

Now at the time, O’Quinn’s addition felt like a pretty standard low-risk, marginal-reward move, as between Horford and Embiid, there didn’t seem like there’d be a whole lot of minutes left to fill at the five, but so far, that hasn’t been the case.

No, between Embiid’s injuries/suspension and Horford’s scheduled rest, K.O. has appeared in all but one of the Sixers games so far this season, while averaging 3.8 points and 3.2 rebounds in 9.4 minutes of action a night – surprisingly an uptick from his performances with the Indiana Pacers last season.

And if we’re being honest, O’Quinn’s statline doesn’t tell the full story.

As fans of basketball already know, all minutes aren’t made equal, as garbage time can play a huge role in puffing up an inflated line, or crush an average with a few minutes of wasted time. Of the four games where O’Quinn recorded eight or more minutes – excluding the contests against the Charlotte Hornets and the Cleveland Cavaliers where KO didn’t take a shot – those stats jump considerably to six points and four rebounds in 13.25 minutes a game.

If extrapolated over a full 82 game season, that would be O’Quinn’s best single-season line since his second season with the New York Knicks in 2017-18.

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He grew up in Brazil, a soccer-mad country if ever there were one. And while Raul Neto has admitted there were times he was bitten by that bug, basketball was always his thing.

One problem, though.

“It was just hard to find a place to play,” Neto, now the Sixers’ backup point guard, told Magdalena Munao of Closeup360.com before this season.

One way or another, he told Munao, he figured it out, whether by taking hour-long bus rides to practice or making the most of the abbreviated schedules his teams played, as there were simply not that many opponents to be found.

His game evolved. He turned pro as a teenager, playing first in his native land and then in Spain before landing in the NBA, with Utah, in 2015. He spent four years with the Jazz, but was waived on July 1 after they added Mike Conley. The Sixers scooped him up for a relative pittance, signing him to a one-year, $1.7 million contract 10 days later.

Once again he had found a place to play. And in the first three games of the club’s current road trip the 27-year-old has also found ways to contribute off the bench, after seeing little action in the season’s first four games. The expectation now is that his role will expand even more, given the fact that Ben Simmons will not play the final game of the trip, Friday night in Denver, after spraining the AC joint in his right shoulder in Wednesday’s 106-104 loss to Utah.

Neto wound up seeing over 30 minutes of action in that one — his homecoming game, as it were — collecting 11 points, four assists, three rebounds and three steals (albeit with four turnovers). He does a little bit of everything, from running the pick-and-roll to creating off the dribble to making open shots to defending. (Coach Brett Brown even had him on the Jazz’s best player, Donovan Mitchell, for extended stretches.)

So if the Sixers gain nothing else from this trip — they are 1-2 so far, and the Nuggets will likely offer a stiff test — at least they have figured out what Neto has to offer. It’s no small matter, given the struggles of their reserves; they are averaging 30.9 points a game, tied for 23rd in the league.

His love of the game comes from his father, Raul Togni Filho, who besides playing professionally in Brazil was an admirer of a point guard who played for the Jazz long before his son — fellow by the name of John Stockton. The first NBA player Neto met, according to a piece on KSL.com, was Leandro Barbosa (a.k.a., the “Brazilian Blur”), one of 17 players from that nation to have made it to the Association. (Others of note are Nene, Anderson Varejao and Tiago Splitter. Neto is one of four Brazilians currently in the league.)

Neto signed his first pro contract at age 17, though as he told Munao, his club team had begun paying him a year or two earlier, to keep him from fleeing to an American college team. He was 23 by the time he made it to the Jazz, and while he played a great deal as a rookie, his role diminished in subsequent years. The last two seasons have been particularly frustrating, as he has faced one injury after another — there were eight separate issues in 2017-18, five in ‘18-19 — and been limited to just 78 games.

Now, however, it looks like he has once again found a place to play, once again found a way to make his mark.

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The Philadelphia 76ers and guard Shake Milton reportedly agreed to a four-year deal Tuesday as the team looks to build its bench.

Kyle Neubeck of the PhillyVoice reported the news. The Sixers have only minimum contracts available for players, so the deal will begin at Milton’s minimum ($1.4 million). It’s likely the long-term nature of the deal is meant to guarantee Milton more money for taking a minimum deal, though guarantees have not been reported at this time.

Milton, 22, averaged 4.4 points and 1.8 rebounds per game on 39.1 percent shooting during his rookie season. He fared far better in the G League with averages of 24.9 points, 5.3 assists and 4.8 rebounds, giving the Sixers some hope he can develop into a solid rotation piece.

“The game comes easy,” Sixers coach Brett Brown told reporters in March. “He doesn’t force-feed stuff on the game, he takes what the game gives him and plays with an ease. There’s a pace and smoothness and fluidity to his game that enables him look very much under control. The fact that he can shoot adds to that in significant ways.”

Milton’s signing may signal the end of T.J. McConnell’s time in Philadelphia. While McConnell is still available on the free-agent market, he’ll likely command a contract above the minimum. The Sixers will be banking on Milton becoming a reliable rotation piece behind Ben Simmons at the point guard spot.

The Sixers have overhauled their roster once again this summer, agreeing to a four-year deal with Al Horford and acquiring Josh Richardson as part of a sign-and-trade with the Miami Heat. Their starting lineup will arguably be the best in the NBA next season, and it’ll be up to guys like Milton to improve a shaky bench.