Jason Richardson, Philadelphia 76ers new shooting guard who came over in the four-team blockbuster deal that brought center Andrew Bynum from the Los Angeles Lakers, knows what it’s like to play with an all-star center. Richardson played with Dwight Howard in Orlando for the last two seasons.
Now, he’s looking forward to playing with another big-time player in Bynum. Richardson knows the importance of a dominant big man.
“Andrew is a great player,” Richardson said. “He’s one of the best centers in the game right now. He’s only 24 years old. So, he definitely has some room to improve. He’s not even in his prime yet.”
Richardson, 6-foot-6, 225-pounder, brings the Sixers a lot of experience as well as a great outside shooter. He averaged 11.6 points a game last season. He shot 36.8 percent from three-point range. He connected on 40.8 percent from the field overall. Perimeter shooting was a big weakness for the Sixers. That’s one of the most improved areas with the addition of Richardson, Nick Young and Dorell Wright.
Richardson, 31, believes the Sixers have a good nucleus coming back. He was impressed with the team’s accomplishments last season.
“They have a good young team and that’s an attest to Doug Collins [Sixers head coach] with what he’s done with the team,” Richardson said. “Thaddeus Young is one of the most athletic power forwards in the league. Jrue Holiday has played well. He’s one of the best point guards in the league. We’re just excited about this year.”
Richardson was originally the fifth overall pick by the Golden State Warriors in the 2001 NBA draft. He has appeared in 805 games with 794 starts, averaging 17.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.17 steals in 34.6 minutes a game while shooting 44.1 percent from the floor and 37.2 percent from three-point range.
During the 2004-05 season, Richardson hit the second most three pointers of any player in the league (1,238), trailing only Miami’s Ray Allen (1,441), who was playing for the Boston Celtics. Richardson hit a career-high 243 three-pointers for Charlotte in 2007-08, the fourth-most by any player in a single season.
Richardson knows his role. His shooting talent could help the Sixers go a long way.
“I’m going to be aggressive,” he said. “I’m going to play hard and do whatever I can to help the team win games.”
Magic Johnson has watched Andrew Bynum play a lot of basketball during his years with the Los Angeles Lakers. Johnson, former Lakers star and Hall of Famer, knows that the Sixers biggest offseason acquisition will play a major part in how far the team goes this season.
Of course, Bynum has missed the entire preseason with right knee pain from a bone bruise. The 7-foot, 285-pound center, could miss the season opener on Oct. 31 against the Denver Nuggets at the Wells Fargo Center. Nevertheless, Johnson seems to be pretty knowledgeable about his basketball skills.
“Well, the good thing is I don’t have doubts in his ability,” said Johnson, a basketball analyst for ESPN’s NBA Countdown. “I’ve seen Andrew dominate. I saw the game against San Antonio where he went and grabbed 30 rebounds. Andrew Bynum is our – right with Dwight Howard, talented –second talented most big man in the game today. And offensively he probably got—he’s got more moves than Dwight Howard. Andrew Bynum can play basketball.
“The problem with Andrew is when he gets down or when he has a confrontation with a coach or if he’s not feeling good about a teammate, then he lets that come to the court instead of leaving that in the locker room. He then goes out and gets five rebounds or he plays and is 10 and 5 or he pouts, and it not only hurts his teammates. So is he mature enough to handle the fact that now it is his team, he is the man. When it’s not going good, will he still come and play 150 percent?
“And then last but not least, will he be able to make his teammates better, because Andrew Bynum got all the talent in the world, and when he wants to dominate, he dominates; we’ve seen that. Shoot, every year he goes through a stretch of about I would say 10 to 15 games where he just dominates the league. I mean, it’s unbelievable the numbers that he puts up.
“But then after he reverts back to a guy we scratch our head about. So I’m just hoping that he just plays for 82 games, also stays healthy for 82 games, too, because he hasn’t been healthy every season that we’ve had him here in LA. But when he comes to play, he can play.”
Johnson is impressed with the Sixers offseason moves. He also likes Sixers guard Jrue Holiday and believes shooting guard Evan Turner should be more relaxed this season.
“Now, I think they did a wonderful job because Jason Richardson has been on fire,” Johnson said. “I’ve seen him three times in exhibition, and I think he’s going to be great. Jrue Holiday is just an incredible point guard who’s getting better and better every season. I thought the addition of Nick Young, Dorell Wright, shooters, so when Bynum is in there you can put a lot of great shooters around him.
“And so I think that Evan Turner now will have less pressure on him. It looked like he was forcing — he was trying to be a high draft pick instead of just relaxing and playing basketball, he was pressuring and he was playing under pressure.”
Johnson feels Doug Collins, Sixers head coach, will have to work with Bynum. He also believes Collins brings a lot of qualities, which should make the Sixers an even better team.
“Doug Collins, who I love and respect, is a great coach,” Johnson said. “And Bynum and Collins got to get on the same page. That’s another thing that has to happen for them to really excel.
“But I’m excited about the team. Athletic-wise they’re off the charts. They’re going to play defense because Doug Collins is about defense, and they’re going to play together, and so that’s — I see great things for them now but also in the future.”
The game of basketball should be played where the ball goes inside and then comes out. You need a big man around the basket to make this happen, a player who can score, rebound and close down the lane defensively.
Andrew Bynum can do all those things.
The Philadelphia 76ers have acquired Bynum from the Los Angeles Lakers in a four-team blockbuster trade. The Sixers also received shooting guard Jason Richardson. In the process, the Sixers traded All-Star guard and Olympian Andre Iguodala to the Denver Nuggets, Nikola Vucevic to the Orlando Magic and Maurice “Moe” Harkless, this year’s first round draft pick, to the Magic.
The Lakers received a huge package in all-star center Dwight Howard and Orlando got Arron Afflalo and Al Harrington from Denver, and one protected first round selection from each of the three teams involved with the deal.
The Sixers will miss Iguodala’s spectacular play in the open court and his defense. Ironically, Iguodala’s debut as a Nugget will be against the Sixers on Oct. 31 in Philadelphia for the team’s home opener.
However, they now have Bynum, a 7-foot, 280-pounder who is one of the top players in the NBA. With Howard now in the West, Bynum immediately becomes the best big man in the East. Bynum, who grew up in Plainsboro, N.J., is only 24 years old after entering the NBA right out of high school as the 10th pick of the Lakers in 2005. He was a McDonald’s All-American when he played at St. Joseph’s High School in Metuchen, N.J.
He has already won two NBA championships (2009, 2010) with the Lakers. He made the all-star team for the first time last season, averaging 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds a game while leading the Lakers to playoffs.
The Sixers defeated the Lakers on Feb. 2 in Philadelphia, 95-90. But Bynum was terrific in that contest, tallying 20 points, 20 rebounds, 3 blocks and 3 assists. The Sixers should revolve their offense around him. Obviously, teams will collapse on him inside, but that’s exactly what you want. This way he can kick the ball back out to players like Jrue Holiday, Evan Turner, Nick Young, Dorell Wright and Jason Richardson for easy shots on the perimeter.
Philly should be able to climb the ladder in the Eastern Conference with him. Miami won the NBA championship in the spring. But the Sixers just got a whole lot closer with Bynum in the middle.
The Sixers finished in the eighth spot in the conference. They defeated the Chicago Bulls in the first round of the playoffs with Chicago missing two of its top players for most of the series in Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah. The Sixers were very impressive in the Eastern Conference semifinals too, losing to the Boston Celtics in seven games.
Bynum could take them to the next level. After Miami, you have the Indiana Pacers, New York Knicks, Atlanta Hawks and the Brooklyn Nets as the teams to watch. The Sixers are right there.
There aren’t a lot of dominant centers in the NBA today. The Sixers have one of them. Philly’s best teams have been the ones with outstanding centers. In 1966–67, the Sixers won the NBA championship with Wilt Chamberlain in the middle. In 1982–83, the team had center Moses Malone, which helped it capture an NBA title.
Bynum has already won two NBA crowns. He played with some great players such as Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and others. Nevertheless, he knows how to win and that should really help the Sixers.
Of course Bynum is in the final year of his contract and will be looking for a big deal. The Sixers could offer him a reported $100 million over five years. The Sixers should have a good chance to re-sign him.
He’s worth the investment.
DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver, will be one of six professional athletes featured in sports-themed wishes granted through Make-A-Wish on ESPN’s seventh annual SportsCenter “My Wish” series.
The summer series, which raises its total of granted wishes to 41 this month, shows wishes coming true for children with life-threatening medical conditions. Each story will give the viewers an in-depth piece beginning with how the wish is started and how the child interacts with the athlete.
Jackson interacts with 10-year-old Donovan Troy from Atlanta, who has been dealing with sickle cell anemia but has not lost his interest or love for sports. Troy spent the day at NovaCare Center with the Eagles during a practice session. After that, he recorded a rap song with Jackson at a Philadelphia studio. Kris Schwartz, ESPN producer, put the piece together, which will air Tuesday, July 17 on SportsCenter.
Former Widener basketball star Bobby Edmunds earns all-league accolade in England
Bobby Edmunds, a former All-Commonwealth Conference star guard for Widener’s basketball team, has been picked second team All-British EBL and named the league’s All-Imports Team.
He averaged 13.8 points, 5.6 assists and 2.2 steals a game for the Bradford Dragons. He also recorded an assist-to-turnover ratio of 3 to 1in helping the Dragons close sixth in the 13-team league at 15-9.
Edmunds also has competed with Hemel Storm in the United Kingdom, Team Wales in the Eurobasket Summer League in Charlotte, N.C., and Team Riga in the Eurobasket Summer League in New York City. He was a second team all-league pick for Widener as a sophomore in 2008. The Pride won three conference titles during his time and advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament from 2007 to 2009.
Sixers waive Darryl Watkins
The Philadelphia 76ers announced today that they have waived center Darryl Watkins. He was acquired by the Sixers in a three-man trade last Wednesday. The Sixers obtained Watkins from New Orleans and forward Dorell Wright from Golden State while sending the rights to Edin Bavcic to the Hornets, who also traded Jarrett Jack to the Warriors.
In 14 career games across two seasons with Sacramento and New Orleans, Watkins has averaged 2.5 points and 2.8 rebounds in 12.0 minutes per game.
It’s been an active summer for the Philadelphia 76ers. There’s no question about that. Some people think the Sixers should have made a bigger splash in terms of free agency and trades.
Nevertheless, they didn’t sit tight and they did make some moves. The Sixers recently obtained forward Dorell Wright from the Golden State Warriors and center Darryl Watkins from the New Orleans Hornets. The Sixers sent the rights to Edin Bavcic to the Hornets who are also trading Jarrett Jack to the Warriors.
Wright, a 6-foot-9, 205-pounder, played his first six seasons with Miami, winning a championship with the Heat in 2006. After that, he signed as a free agent with Golden State in 2010. Over the last two years, he started 143 of a possible 148 games for the Warriors, tallying 13.8 points a game.
He had his best year during the 2010–11 season. He started all 82 games, putting together career highs with 16.4 points, 5.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.51 steals a game. He led the NBA with three pointers made (194) that year. Last season, he ranked tied for 21st with 105 three point field goals made.
“We’re very happy to get a player like Dorell Wright,” said Rod Thorn, Sixers president of basketball operations. “We think his outside shooting and all-around game will be a great addition to our team and we look forward to having him in Philadelphia.”
The big thing that Wright gives the Sixers is another outside shooter. At times, the Sixers really struggled offensively. He also gives them some depth at the small forward position.
The Sixers should be a much better perimeter team despite losing Lou Williams, the team’s leading scorer, who signed with the Atlanta Hawks. The Sixers signed free agent Nick Young, a 6-foot-7 guard, who averaged 14.2 points a game last season. Young, former Southern Cal star, played four seasons for the Washington Wizards. He was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers in March where helped them get to the playoffs. Young gives the Sixers a taller player who can shoot from the wing.
Up front, the Sixers let power forward Elton Brand go using the amnesty provision. They also re-signed 7-1 center Spencer Hawes and 6-foot-9 power forward Lavoy Allen. Hawes averaged 9.6 points and 7.3 rebounds a game. Allen, former Temple star, averaged 4.1 points and 4.2 rebounds a game during the regular season. But Allen really stepped up in the playoffs. He averaged 6.3 points and 4.9 rebounds in the postseason. He also did a great job of guarding Boston Celtics center Kevin Garnett. Allen will battle for the starting power forward position this season.
The Sixers selected 6-foot-8 forward Maurice Harkless from St. John’s with the 15th pick in the first round of the NBA draft. They also acquired 6-foot-11 power forward Arnett Moultrie from Mississippi State in a draft night deal with the Miami Heat for the draft rights to Justin Hamilton and a protected future first round selection.
Dorell Wright knows exactly what’s expected of him with the Philadelphia 76ers this season. Wright, a 6-foot-9, 205-pound guard/ forward, has already carved out a pretty good niche for himself.
“My role here in Philadelphia, being with a new team, is definitely being a knockdown shooter,” Wright said. “I’m a playmaker for my teammates, a good teammate, defensive player and rebounder. It’s a lot of things.”
Wright came over to the Sixers in three-team trade over the summer. Last season, he played for the Golden State Warriors. Wright averaged 10.3 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.5 assists a game. In his first regular season appearance for the Sixers on Wednesday against Denver, he displayed some of those skills.
His first shot was a three-pointer that hit nothing but the bottom of the net. Overall, Wright didn’t shoot extremely well for a guy known for putting the ball in the basket. Nevertheless, he was able to make some good contributions in the Sixers’ 84-75 victory over the Nuggets. Wright came off the bench to play 27 minutes, tallying 12 points, grabbing seven rebounds and picking up two steals. He also shot 6-for-6 from the free throw line.
Aside from his basketball skills, Wright is the one team member who has an NBA championship ring. He played on the 2006 Miami Heat team that defeated the Dallas Mavericks to win the league title. He brings that experience to the Sixers, a team that’s gradually climbing the ladder in the NBA.
“Yeah man, it was a great experience being around all those great players and not only being around them and winning a championship, but getting all the knowledge,” Wright said. “They let me know how to be a good player. The things they taught me are still with me today. It’s always good to be around veteran players because they know and they’ve been through it. It was a good time. I’m happy to be with another young and exciting team.”
Wright is in his eighth season. He grew up in Los Angeles, Calif., coming right out of high school to the NBA. He played for South Kent Prep in Connecticut. In 2004, he was the 19th overall draft pick by the Heat. He played six years in Miami and two with Golden State. He’s now one of the veterans on the Sixers. Wright sees a lot of potential in this team. He knows the Sixers are coming off a postseason that saw them beat the Chicago Bulls and get to the semifinals of the Eastern Conference before losing to the Boston Celtics in seven games.
“That’s impressive,” Wright said. “It makes it that much better. You have young guys who know how to win and what it takes. So, when you sprinkle the veteran players like myself, KB (Kwame Brown), J-Rich (Jason Richardson) and Damien (Wilkins), we know how to work hard. We know the things you need to do to get back there. But these guys already have the understanding. Coach (Doug) Collins is a great coach and a great teacher with the things he’s done for us. It’s going to allow us to get better each and every night and make those playoff runs.”
The Sixers will meet a playoff opponent on Nov. 4 when they play the New York Knicks in Madison Square Garden at noon. The following day the Sixers will play host to the Knicks at the Wells Fargo Center. The tip-off is at 7 p.m.