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International Talent Could Help Mold Sixers Roster

The NBA Draft resulted in the Sixers taking Ben Simmons 1st overall. Hailing from Australia, Simmons is the all-around player that the Sixers  have planned to build around since this rebuild process was started. But Simmons wasn’t the only player being welcomed to Philadelphia on Thursday night.

Later in the 1st round, the Sixers selected French wing Timothe Luwawu with the 24th pick and Turkish shooting guard Furkan Korkmaz with the 26th pick. On top of regular season roster members Nik Stauskas (Canada) and Joel Embiid (Cameroon), the Sixers own the draft rights to forward Dario Saric (Croatia) and two other international prospects. Nine countries are represented on the Sixers roster including the United States which is more than the organization has ever had before. While international talent is usually taken down the draft-and-stash route, the Sixers need all the help they can get as acquiring players through free-agency looks less than promising.

For Sixers fans that are unaware, Simmons/Embiid is planned as the key to success for Philadelphia. Simmons is a player that can do just about everything on the court. While his shot needs work, Simmons has often been compared to Magic Johnson and Lebron James by league scouts. Even though Simmons is listed as a forward, his size and play-making abilities will make it easy to place him anywhere on the court. Joel Embiid will play alongside Simmons for his first active season after being sidelined with injuries for the last two seasons. Like Simmons, Embiid is projected as a do-all player that can contribute on both offense and defense.

Before he was selected 24th overall Timothe Luwawu was often projected to land as a lottery pick after a great season with Mega Leks of Serbia. In the Adriatic League he was able to post 14.6 ppg and a 37.2 3p% on 31 mpg. Luwawu possesses an above-average shot from the perimeter that can become even better and an athletic build necessary for the wing. However he’s a liability when it comes to decision making with 3.5 turnovers averaged per 40 minutes played. There is a high chance Luwawu will play with the Sixers in 2016-17 as his buyout is reasonably priced at $650k USD.

Turkish shooting guard Furkan Korkmaz plays very similar to Luwawu and his buyout will cost much more ($2m USD in installments). Korkmaz is only 18 years old and has plenty of time to grow with Anadolu Efes of the Turkish League. If the Sixers instead decide to buyout his contract this year, Korkmaz will provide an immediate impact from the perimeter. Korkmaz has proven to be a great catch-and-shoot threat from the 3pt line (40.9% over two-year Turkish and Euroleague career).

Shooting from distance is a strength of Korkmaz but strength is something that he lacks. At 6’8″ and only 185 pounds, Korkmaz is a work in progress and it could take some time before he’s playing on the regular season roster. During his time with Andadolu Efes Korkmaz played alongside Sixers prospect Dario Saric where they won the Turkish Cup in 2015.Sixers fans will be able to see Furkan Korkmaz in action during the 2016 Rio Olympics where he will represent Turkey.

A Croatian newspaper reported that there is a 99% chance Dario Saric’s career in the Turkish League has ended.  Dario Saric was acquired by the Sixers in the 2014 draft and has not yet played with the team due to his contract with Anadolu Efes of the Turkish League. Playing another year in Europe will force the Sixers to offer more than a rookie contract as that expires next year. But another year overseas could ruin his chances of having a spot in the roster.  Sixers GM Bryan Colangelo wants Saric in Philadelphia but has made it perfectly clear that there might not be space for him on the court if he decides to wait another year. Colangelo was quoted via the ESPN Insiders show hosted by Marc Stein, Amin Elhassan and Brian Windhorst and had this to say about the Croatian international.

I could make an argument that he really should come over, it’s good timing for us and good timing for him. If he wants to roll the dice on the financial aspect of it, our situation might be a little different next year and we might not have as much need for him.

To sum up Colangelo’s statements, it’s now or never for Saric to be a Sixer. With plenty of cap space for free-agency this year and the arrival of Simmons, Luwawu, and Korkmaz, Saric’s future with the team could be very dim if he doesn’t sign now. This past year with Anadolu Efes, Saric played in 24 Euroleague games and was able to put up decent numbers.  11.7 ppg, 5.8 rpg, and 40.3% from three are some of the numbers Saric averaged last year.  Financial advantages for Saric could keep him from playing for the Sixers in 2016-17 and that’s not something fans want to see from a player that can do quite a lot with the ball in his hands.

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