Lonnie Walker grew up a Sixers fan but doesn’t remember much about the 2000-2001 squad.
“I was only two years old. You kind of have to recollect those moments when you get older.”
All laughs from the Reading High School product, a 6’4″ shooting guard who spent Monday morning working out for the Sixers with five other NBA draft prospects. Among them were top-15 projection Miles Bridges, second round projection Shake Milton, and a group of forwards in Drew Eubanks, Nuni Omut, and Jared Nickens.
We only saw about 15 minutes of the session as it wrapped up. Walker spent that portion working with Bridges and Milton on the near court, going through a variety of 1v1 exercises, this one a simple perimeter close out drill:
Lonnie Walker, Miles Bridges, Shake Milton: pic.twitter.com/OXzy04hIyG
— Kevin Kinkead (@Kevin_Kinkead) June 11, 2018
And here’s some more video of inside-out 1v1 work where the defender needs to touch a trainer before sliding to the three point line to engage:
Walker, Bridges, Milton pt 2: pic.twitter.com/fBzhwOth3j
— Kevin Kinkead (@Kevin_Kinkead) June 11, 2018
You don’t learn much from 15 minutes of drills, but it’s a good opportunity to see these guys up close and personal after staring at Youtube videos for months or watching them on TV.
Bridges is the consensus top prospect of this group, projected to go anywhere from 9 to 15 in the draft. He’s a 6’7″ combo forward/tweener type of player with a lot of athleticism who we broke down last week. The Sixers could do much worse than adding him to this roster as a two-way wing who plays good defense and can score the ball as well.
“I think I could fit in pretty well,” Bridges told reporters. “It’s a fast, fast paced team, they play defense, really great on offense. I think I could fit in well.”
Bridges shares an agent with Ben Simmons and says his dad is a Sixers fan. He also doesn’t have any problem with Brett Brown, a coach he compared to Tom Izzo, handling the interim GM duties.
“He’s a good man. He knows how to handle his business. If I came here, I wouldn’t have any concern with it.”
Miles Bridges thinks he can fit in well with the Sixers, and offers his vote of confidence for Brett Brown. pic.twitter.com/LtscDivJ69
— Dennis Chambers (@DennisChambers_) June 11, 2018
Walker also falls into that late lottery area, mocked in most drafts in the 11-16 range. I wrote a bit about him last week as a 6’4″ shooting guard with a smooth stroke and natural scoring ability, though it does come with some inconsistency.
He’s a Berks County native and played for Reading High before heading off to Miami. He says it would be a privilege to play in Philadelphia.
“Honestly, it’s very surreal,” Walker said. “Growing up, you’re about 45 minutes from here and you watch almost every basketball game. The pride that this city brings to the 76ers is kind of similar to back home where everybody was very proud of our basketball team. It’s amazing, once I came to the gym and saw that it said 76ers, it was (wow).”
“Their style of play kind of fits my style of play. It’s kind of too good to be true.”
— Jessica Camerato (@JessicaCamerato) June 11, 2018
Milton was a guy I did not talk about, and he’s an interesting second round prospect. He’s a 6’5″ shooting guard from Southern Methodist who averaged 18 points per game on 45% shooting and hit from deep at 43.4%. He’s a good decision maker and has that long wingspan that makes him effective on the defensive end, though he looked a bit skinny out there and would need to bulk up for the NBA level.
Eubanks, Omot, and Nickens are not consensus draft picks. They worked in a group of three at the other end of the floor. And for what it’s worth, T.J. McConnell was on the far court shooting three pointers.
Brett Brown didn’t have a ton to say about the workouts, noting that a lot of homework has already been done on the players. But he did mention that you can always learn something new when having the chance to get in front of somebody.
“You can do all the tape and watching from the stands at a game,” the head coach said. “You obviously learn a ton from that. There’s a human side of this that interests me as much as anything. I’ll get some of these guys in my office. I like talking to ’em. You can look at their hands and feet a little bit closer, just the size of hands as an example, how they carry themselves, how they interact with a teammate, how they respond to all the testing and just sort of how they present and carry themselves. There’s really nothing like that 1v1 environment to me, where I can just sort of sit down and talk to them and watch them up close and personal navigate a workout and coaching staff and teammates, so to speak, that they just met today.”
Maybe those meetings are important, maybe not. Basketball is one thing, but you’re trying to determine if these guys are coachable, if they can be good teammates, and if they have the right attitude and mindset – things that you can necessarily determine by watching the film.
“I think it makes some level of a difference,” Brown added. “We all meet people and you leave, and you either didn’t completely connect or you did connect, it’s a side of this job, it’s a side of selecting and growing our players that interests me as much as anything. It’s a real layer for me on determining the whole package, determining the whole opinion on somebody. So I place a lot of stock in the opportunity to sit with somebody and talk to them face to face in my office. It isn’t really about basketball. It can be about basketball, but a lot of times it’s not.”