NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 17: Brett Brown of the Philadelphia 76ers talks to the media after the 2016 NBA Draft Lottery at the New York Hilton in New York, New York.
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Seltzer's Notebook: Brown on Simmons, Draft Prep Details, Prospect Quotes

by Brian Seltzer Reporter

Brown Talks Draft on Thursday Edition of SportsCenter
During the 10:00 AM EST hour of SportsCenter Thursday, Brett Brown spoke with anchor Hannah Storm about Thursday’s draft.  

After describing an unavoidable build-up in “buzz” he’s felt throughout the city in recent weeks, Brown went on to discuss Ben Simmons, the LSU freshman forward who worked out privately for Brown and the Sixers Tuesday morning.  Brown’s ties to Simmons stretch back to the late 1980s, when he coached Simmons’ father, Dave, in the National Basketball League of Australia.

“My history with their family is difficult to make up,” Brown told Storm.  “I knew his mom [Julie] before [parents] were married.  The history of knowing his former coaches is strong.  What you see is a 6'10", 240 pound stud of an athlete.  He is a perfectly sculptured type of basketball player.  You saw the physical side first.  I was really pleased with his shot.  I think his shot is not broken, his form is fine."

Brown painted the picture of positive intangible factors that account for Simmons’ make up.

“His father was highly competitive, gifted physical,” said Brown.  “He had a New York City edge to his mentality.  He was very serious, very focused, he was a pro.  Then you go over to his mom, who is this wonderful Aussie lady who was very involved in fitness, big charisma.  You sort of pair that gene pool up, fast forward to 2016, and you’re looking at the most popular vote for the first player in the draft.  The parents are great people, they tick well.  I just think the package makes for something extremely attractive.”

As for whether the Sixers might pull off a move to acquire another high pick in the first round, Brown acknowledged the team has been fielding phone calls “from all over the place.”

“We need backcourt help, point guard help,” he said, adding that the Sixers won’t make “reckless” decisions.  “Nobody’s trying to fix all of our problems in one fell swoop.  We still feel there is an educated step by step process we have to go through.”   

Colangelo Keeping Draft Approach Consistent
Prior to joining the Sixers, Bryan Colangelo had two other prominent NBA front office opportunities.  He became Phoenix’s general manager in 1995, and added the responsibilities of president to his post in 1999.  Then, in February 2006, Colangelo was hired by Toronto, where he again held dual titles as general manager and president.  Both of these stints netted Colangelo NBA Executive of the Year honors. 

Now in charge of the Sixers’ basketball operations department three years after his tenure north of the border ended, Colangelo, for the most part, has been sticking to the same principles that guided him through his seasons with the Suns and Raptors.

“I’ve had similar experiences in Phoenix and Toronto, because you drive that process,” Colangelo said Tuesday at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.  “That’s what you want to get out of it.”

As Colangelo described it, the greatest contrast between preparing for this year’s draft and those he oversaw for the Suns and Raptors is a matter of familiarity.  He’s been with the Sixers for a little more than two months, having been brought on board April 10th, when he was tabbed President of Basketball Operations.   

“I’m dealing with a group of scouts I really just met,” said Colangelo.  The Sixers’ contingent of more than half a dozen pro, amateur, and international scouts reported to Philadelphia late last week, which then led to a series of extensive meetings heading into Thursday.  “I’ve known some of them for years, but spent time with them in a room and talked to them, and kind of break down players and break down this process, all of that is a first time thing.”

Still, the essence of the draft prep efforts that Colangelo is overseeing hasn’t really changed.

“I have to say, it’s not a lot different, room-to-room, and I’m glad to see that,” he said.  “I like a lot of what we’re talking about in the discussions.”

Colangelo and his staff are considering plenty of factors as they formulate opinions about this year’s prospects.

“Take the basketball opinion,” said Colangelo, “and you overlay that with the analytics view, and prediction stuff and probability stuff, it’s all kind of commonplace.  How deep you dive is really what it comes down to.  We’ve got a lot of smart people, I’ve said that from the get-go here.  We’re utilizing every resource possible.  I feel like we’re as prepared as we need to be, and we’re sitting in a pretty good place right now.”

Comprehensive Review of Medical Information Vital to Draft Prep
Tuesday, Bryan Colangelo indicated he thought the Sixers were probably the only team in the NBA to have direct access to the medical records of Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram, the top two projected prospects in this year’s draft.  Colangelo interpreted the willing sharing of these documents as a sign that not only do Simmons and Ingram each have interest in playing for the Sixers, their respective agents are on board with the possibility as well. 

Just how much emphasis do the Sixers place on gathering information related to player health, and what type of resources do they devote to reviewing it?  Here are some of Colangelo’s comments on that very subject:

“Literally months of work that starts probably in Chicago at the pre-draft camp.  It gives us a baseline for all the players that are there and submit to a physical.  We have a list that we’ve already provided to our medical team to go in and highlight individuals that we want to talk about and focus on.  It gives them a basis or a starting point, but they end up seeing every player that comes through the draft combine.  So we’ve got a file.  

“There’s an NBA league-wide website that provides that medical information on a confidential basis, so every player that submitted to a physical, that information is there.  The ones that you have to chase, whether it’s an individual that’s decided to withhold that in Chicago, or just only submit their physical information to a few teams….you do what you can to assemble all that.

“Then, you sit down with your doctors.  They go the next month and a half, and do all the digging and due diligence that they need to, speaking to everybody and anybody that can help us paint the picture that is conclusive with regard to someone’s medical status.  If there was a known surgery, if there was a known injury, we’re tracking all of that. 

“So, we just had that meeting [Monday].  It was a three-hour session.  We went through literally every scenario that could be affecting us.  MRIs are put up on a screen, x-rays put on a screen, if there was a surgery, a known injury, if a joint was affected, this is for everybody that we’re considering, whether it’s the top of the draft, bottom of the draft, middle of the draft, because we want to know.  If there’s a guy that we like and we want to move up for, is there risk involved.  We want to mitigate as much risk as possible.” 

With an approach that exhaustive, the Sixers seem to be leaving no stone unturned.  

Prospects Quotables
Amidst the flurry of developments surrounding Ben Simmons’ visit to PCOM Tuesday, and Bryan Colangelo’s extensive media availability that followed, several prospect visits were overshadowed a bit.  Here’s a roundup of some quotes that emerged from the final two six-man workout sessions that the Sixers conducted Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively.

Kentucky point guard Tyler Ulis on wearing the number “3” throughout his basketball career:
“Always, all my life.  I wouldn’t get it [in Philadelphia].  It was Iverson. He left everything out on the floor. He played hard every night.  He was always the smallest on the floor, and I felt like that’s just someone I wanted to look up to, and imitate my game after.  I don’t play like him now, but when I was younger, taking the crossover, tattoos, number “3,” try to get braids - my mom never let me.  Just a guy who left it all out there, and gave everything to the game.”

Oregon State senior guard Gary Payton II, the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, on the influence that his defensive-minded, Hall of Fame father had on his career:
“Instincts.  I think it just comes naturally, watch my dad grow up.  A lot of defensive guards back then, so it’s just watching them, and it’s their mindset of stopping the ball, getting easy buckets.”

Louisville sophomore forward Chinanu Onuaku, a potential second-round prospect, on why he decided to turn pro:
“Coach [Rick Pitino], he actually called me, and he said that he thinks I’m ready to go, and he wanted me to go, so that kind of tipped it over the scale.”

Syracuse senior guard Trevor Cooney, a Wilmington native who was excited to work out for his hometown Sixers, on Jerami Grant, whom he played with during his four-year collegiate career: 
“Lots of great stories with him.  That’s my guy.  I’m a big fan, and a good friend of his.  He’s been good, he’s been really good.  He’s been a spark, he plays really good defense.  He always has highlight blocks and dunks.”

Temple senior swingman Quenton DeCosey, who feels his defense and lateral quickness have improved, on still hearing former coach Fran Dunphy’s voice in his head:
“Definitely, when he would yell at me on defense on help side.  Offense, be poised.  He’s always somewhere in the back of my mind.”

Gonzaga forward Kyle Wiltjer, a big man with range who began his career at Kentucky, on advice that he’s received from friends in NBA:
“Leaning on a guy like Kelly Olynyk, he went to Gonzaga, Nerlens Noel, who I used to play with at Kentucky.  They all said the same thing.  Work as hard as you can after the season, which I did.  I tried to get my body in the best shape possible.  I think that’s really helped me.  I felt fresh, and this is my 15th workout.  I feel like I could do 10 more.”

North Carolina forward Brice Johnson, a projected first-round bubble pick, on averaging a 17.0-point, 10.4-rebound double-double as a senior:
“Just showing how versatile I am.  Just being able to step out there and guard whoever I need to guard.  On the offensive end play the four and the five, and by the end of the year, I could show I could shoot a little bit.  In the workouts, I’ve shown it a lot more.”