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.”
The Philadelphia 76ers are coming off a pretty successful season, making a second consecutive trip to the NBA playoffs under head coach Doug Collins. The Sixers had a strong run in the postseason defeating the Chicago Bulls in the first round before losing to the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinals in seven games.
The offseason is here. The Sixers have made some strides over the last few seasons, but they need to make some additional improvements in order to get to the next level. That could be a better position in the conference standings, which could help them get to the Eastern Conference finals.
The Sixers will be working out a number of NBA prospects in the coming weeks. The NBA draft will take place on June 28. The team will take a good look at the list of free agents. Of course, they have their own free agents who require some attention such as Spencer Hawes, Lavoy Allen and Jodie Meeks. Guard Lou Williams has an early termination option in his contract and could opt out if he chooses to exercise that right.
There are some interesting names on the NBA free agent list. The Sixers could definitely use some help in the frontcourt. Three names that stick out right away are restricted free agents JaVale McGee (Denver Nuggets), Roy Hibbert (Indiana Pacers) and Jason Thompson (Sacramento Kings).
McGee, a 7-foot, 252-pounder, was a first round pick of the Washington Wizards four years ago. The Wizards traded him to the Denver Nuggets in March. McGee helped the Nuggets land a spot in the playoffs. In fact, he played extremely well against the Los Angeles Lakers in the postseason. The Nuggets took the Lakers to seven games, losing in the final game. McGee averaged 8.9 points, 9.6 rebounds and 3.1 blocks a game. He was a big factor around the basket. He ran the floor and caught a number of alley-oop passes from playmaker Andre Miller.
Hibbert, a 7-foot-2, 260-pounder, was a real force around the basket. He had a big year for the Pacers. He made the all-star team this season and carried the Pacers to the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Miami Heat where they lost in six games. He averaged 11.7 points and 11.2 rebounds a game in the playoffs. He can score from the outside. He can rebound, defend and score around the basketball.
Thompson, a former Rider College and South Jersey basketball star, can play in the post. The 6-foot-11, 250-pounder, averaged 9.1 points and 6.9 rebounds a game.
For restricted free agents, teams can match any offer that’s made from other teams.
Kris Humphries is an unrestricted free agent from the Brooklyn Nets. Humphries would be a great addition to the Sixers. He can run the floor, score inside, rebound and play good defense. The 6-foot-9, 235-pounder, averaged 13.8 points and 11.0 rebounds a game.
In the backcourt, the Sixers may want to grab a point guard to help the run offense. They could sign a good playmaker that would help their young tandem of Evan Turner and Jrue Holiday like Jeremy Lin (New York Knicks) and Raymond Felton (Portland Trail Blazers).
Lin is a restricted free agent. He exploded onto the NBA scene with his spectacular play this season. Lin came out of nowhere to make a name for himself on the NBA’s biggest stage. He was quite a fan favorite in New York City. The 6-foot-3, 200-pounder, averaged 14.6 points, 6.2 assists and 3.1 rebounds a game. He missed the playoffs with knee surgery. He could have been a big help to the Knicks in the postseason.
Felton, a 6-foot-1, 205-pounder, is an unrestricted free agent. He averaged 11.4 points and 6.5 assists a game. Felton would be a solid lead guard.
These are just a few names on the free agent list that should get a lot of attention in the coming months.
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.
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.”
For the Philadelphia 76ers, it’s been a busy summer with all the personnel moves. Doug Collins, Sixers head coach, had a chance to talk about all the trades and free agent signings the team made in the last three weeks.
Of course, the most discussed acquisition was Kwame Brown, the No. 1 pick overall in the NBA draft coming out of high school in 2001 with the Washington Wizards. Brown, 30, signed a reported two-year deal with the Sixers for $6 million. Collins was Brown’s first coach with the Wizards.
A year ago, Brown played for the Golden State Warriors. But he only played in nine games prior to a season-ending pectoral injury. He tallied 6.3 points and 6.3 rebounds a game before the injury. Brown has averaged 6.8 points and 5.6 rebounds a game during his 11 years in the NBA. Collins believes the 6-foot-11, 270-pounder, can make a solid contribution.
“Well, I wanted him last year,” Collins said. “I think people when they view Kwame Brown they look at a guy who was a bust as the No. 1 draft pick in the NBA. And that’s not what we’re signing for. I had him at that period of time when he was 18 years old. I understand the pressure that young guy was under.
“I wish I could go back and be a better coach and a better mentor for him at that time. We feel very strongly that what we needed to do was to add size, strength, toughness and post defense. Michael Curry had him in Detroit. He felt like Kwame was one of the top five defensive centers in the NBA. So, we feel like that’s what we’re getting. We’re getting a good rebounder. We think that he can play well with a couple different guys on the floor. He can support us with his versatility. He’s in a great place right now.”
Brown has played for the Wizards, Los Angeles Lakers, Memphis Grizzlies, Detroit Pistons, Charlotte Bobcats and the Warriors over his career. Collins feels Brown has a strong connection with this Sixers coaching staff.
“BJ (Brian James) and I were with him in Washington,” Collins said. “Jeff Capel mentored him and was with him in Charlotte. Aaron McKie played with him in L-A. Michael Curry coached him in Detroit. So, he’s coming into a place that he feels very good about. I think we’re going to see the best Kwame has to offer.”
Collins has already penciled in Brown as the starting center entering training camp.
“We’re going to have Jrue (Holiday), Dre (Andre Iguodala) and Evan (Turner) in the backcourt,” he said. “Spencer (Hawes) playing as a four, which we think he’s more comfortable doing that. Kwame will do all the heavy lifting and play against the big centers.”
When the Philadelphia 76ers need a basket, they usually get the ball in the hands of a player who can make a big shot. On most nights, Lou Williams has been there for the Sixers. It could be a three-point shot, a drive to the basket or a running one hander. Williams provides the Sixers with a much-needed scoring punch off the bench.
The 6-foot-1, 175-pound shooting guard, has emerged as one of the best sixth men in the NBA. Williams’ scoring prowess has moved him into a special category. Doug Collins, Sixers head coach, knows the team has a great player that can make a big difference.
“He’s one of the top sixth men in the NBA,” Collins said. “Obviously, Jason Terry (Dallas Mavericks), Lou and probably James Harden (Oklahoma City Thunder) to me really come to mind. I wouldn’t want to short change anybody else, but those three guys and what they do for their teams.
“I’ve said all along it takes a special guy like Lou to come in cold off that bench and do what he does for us on a nightly basis. When Lou plays well, we’re pretty good because it means he’s on his game. He gives me options. It means I can have Jrue (Holiday) out there. Then, I got Dre (Andre Iguodala) and I got Evan (Turner). When he plays well and is scoring, he’s gives me a lot of options to finish up games.”
Which is what Williams did Friday night in a crucial game against divisional rival Boston. Williams came off the bench to score 19 points on 6 of 13 shooting to help the Sixers take the season series from the Celtics in a 99-86 win at the Wells Fargo Center.
Williams is playing really well. It’s not too often that your leading scorer is a key reserve. But that’s Lou Williams. He’s averaging 15.7 points a game and is very comfortable in his role as the team’s sixth man.
“It’s my job to come in and be aggressive,” Williams said. “It just allows me an opportunity to give the group some energy and a presence off the bench. It’s been one of those things we’ve strived on this year. We had Thad (Thaddeus Young) and Evan (Turner). Now Evan is in the starting lineup. So, we have Jodie (Meeks) now and we’re trying to work him. It’s definitely something we’ve strived for this year.”
Williams is in his sixth season with the Sixers. He was a second round pick in the 2005 NBA draft coming out of South Gwinnett High School in Snellville, Ga., right near Atlanta. He became the first high school player chosen by the Sixers since Darryl Dawkins, who was the fifth pick overall in the first round in 1975.
Williams was a McDonald’s All-American. He was the winner of the Naismith Award, which goes to the best high school player in the nation. He scored 3,338 points in his scholastic career. He averaged 27.5 points a game his senior year. Williams has always been able to put the ball in the basket.
As a sixth man, he knows how to prepare himself for coming off the bench. He follows the flow of the game before he goes to the scorer’s table and comes into the game. He tries to get a feel for what’s going on to give him that edge.
“It has a lot to do with pre-game and looking at scouting reports,” Williams said. “You look at how certain defenders want to play you and who you have in front of you. It changes night in and night out.”
Williams, 25, has improved his skills each year with the Sixers. During the summer months, he really works on his game. He plays in the Rankin Anderson Summer Basketball League with a number of local NBA players like Kyle Lowry, Jason Thompson and others. He put himself in position to be considered for the league’s Sixth Man award.
The last Sixer to win the award was Aaron McKie, former Simon Gratz and Temple standout, who helped the Sixers get to the NBA Finals in 2001. McKie received the award during that remarkable season. Williams isn’t thinking much about the award. He’s just trying to remained focus on helping the Sixers prepare for the NBA playoffs.
“I haven’t thought about it,” Williams said. If happens, it would be great. I never set out to accomplish individual goals. If it happens in the course of us winning some games, I’ll be more than gracious.”
If and when Philadelphia 76ers center Andrew Bynum plays this season, Jalen Rose feels the Sixers, who are a playoff team without him, could go to the next level. Of course, Bynum hasn’t played or practiced since the Sixers got him in a trade with the Los Angeles Lakers last summer.
Bynum has been recovering from a bone bruise in his right knee. He also injured his left knee bowling. The Sixers big man is expected to have his knees examined on Dec. 20. Nevertheless, Rose, an NBA analyst for ESPN, feels Bynum could make them a strong contender in the playoffs when and if he debuts as a Sixer.
“Doug Collins (Sixers head coach) has done a terrific job with that team. Who would have thought they would be a couple games above .500 while the Lakers and their roster are a couple games below,” Rose said. “I think once they get Andrew Bynum back and he’s healthy and playing at a high level and gets back on the floor, I look at the Philadelphia 76ers with the development of Thaddeus Young and Jrue Holiday and the bigs (big men) they have to play around Bynum.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if they have what it takes to advance to the playoffs. The Miami Heat are the favorites obviously to win the East. The New York Knicks have put themselves in that conversation. [With] Indiana, you still have to see what happens with (Danny) Granger, and the (Brooklyn) Nets, you have to see if they’re going to stay healthy. So all the time I felt Philadelphia was in the mix with that second tier.”
Bynum, 25, hasn’t played a game since last May. The 7-foot, 285-pounder, averaged 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds a game last season. He’s an NBA all-star who has helped the Lakers win two NBA championships. Rose envisions a slight adjustment period for Bynum in terms of getting into playing shape.
“The conditioning may not be there initially,” Rose said. “That probably will take two to four weeks. But as far as getting him on that left block and allowing him to operate and be a 20-point scorer, I think that will come initially as soon as he gets backs out on the floor.”
In regard to when Bynum will play, it’s not clear. It appears that Bynum and the Sixers should know a lot more about his knee injuries in the coming weeks. Bynum is in the last year of his contract and reportedly could sign a five-year deal for more than $100 million after this season.
“Well, he basically said recently he’s going to know something between and around the first of the year when he feels like he’s going to come back,” Rose said. “He seems eager to come back, the sooner the better. We all know he’s in a contract year. He wants to play at a high level. I mean for his future it will be a great time for him to come out and be an anchor for what Philadelphia is trying to build since they’re starting to build the roster around him.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
When Derrick Rose went down with a season ending injury in the first game of the Philadelphia 76ers-Chicago Bulls best of seven first-round NBA playoff series, some people believed the Sixers would now cruise the rest of the way in this quarterfinal matchup. Rose, the NBA’s reigning Most Valuable Player, has a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee and is done for the rest of this season and likely most of next year. His absence on the floor should help the Sixers, but fans should keep in mind the ability of teams to rally once they lose a star player.
If you’re a true Sixers fan, you remember 1980 when Kareem Abdul-Jabbar got hurt and missed Game 6 of the NBA championship series because of an ankle injury. Well, that’s the game when Magic Johnson, then a rookie, put on a magnificent performance. Johnson had 42 points, 15 rebounds, seven assists and three steals to lead the Los Angeles Lakers to a 123-117 win over the Sixers. As a result, the Lakers ended up winning the league championship.
The only difference is that was one game. It would have been interesting to see how the Lakers would have responded if Abdul-Jabbar had missed the entire series. Nevertheless, Rose’s injury does change a lot of things.
Rose is one of the most explosive players in the NBA. The Bulls all-star guard averaged 21.8 points, 7.9 assists and 3.4 rebounds a game this season. He had 23 points, nine rebounds and nine assists in Chicago’s 103-91 victory over the Sixers on Saturday.
Now, the Bulls will have to play backup point guards C.J. Watson and John Lucas III against Jrue Holiday, Sixers 6-foot-4 playmaker. Holiday should have a big advantage against Watson and Lucas. However, Watson did play extremely well in an 89-80 victory over the Sixers on March 17. He had a game-high 20 points that night.
Without Rose, Chicago is pretty much left with a group of role players, which include 6-foot-7 Luol Deng, 6-foot-9 Carlos Boozer, 6-foot-7 Ronnie Brewer, 6-foot-7 Richard Hamilton, 6-foot-11 Joakim Noah and 6-foot-9 Taj Gibson. None of these players are superstars at this point in their careers. The Sixers should be able to matchup with Holiday, 6-foot-6 Andre Iguodala, 6-foot-7 Evan Turner, 6-foot-9 Elton Brand, 6-foot-1 Lou Williams and 6-foot-8 Thaddeus Young.
Holiday had 16 points and seven rebounds in game one. Brand was very impressive, scoring a team-high 19 points and grabbing seven rebounds.
The big thing with the Sixers is they have to do a better job on the boards and play better on defense. They have to force as many turnovers as possible. They need to get out and run whenever the opportunity presents itself. In spite of Rose not being there, the Sixers style of play shouldn’t change.
The Sixers will face the Bulls on Tuesday night, May 1 at 8 p.m. in what should be a very interesting Game 2 of this series. They could definitely use a win to shift the momentum with Games 3 and 4 at the Wells Fargo Center on Friday, May 4 and Sunday, May 6.
Rose missed 27 games this season. The Bulls were 18-9 without him. They know how to win without Rose. The Sixers have to remember and come with the same intensity as if Rose were still there.
The Philadelphia 76ers have received some impressive play from several players like Lou Williams, Andre Iguodala and Jrue Holiday. But they haven’t been the only contributors. Lavoy Allen, Sixers rookie forward, has given the team some quality minutes.
Allen, former Temple star, has stepped in and provided the Sixers with a tremendous lift when they needed it the most. With centers Spencer Hawes nursing a strained Achilles and Nikola Vucevic dealing with a strained quad, Allen has been given a chance to get on the floor and display his talent. Doug Collins, Sixers head coach, has been very pleased with Allen, the team’s second round draft choice and the 50th player selected overall in last spring’s NBA draft.
“He’s been a real pleasant surprise for us,” Collins said. “The guys trust him and believe in him. He’s big and strong down there. He’s a very skilled player. Our guys like him on the floor. They really believe in him. That size of him in the paint is a factor. We watch tapes of him. Guys are bouncing off him. He’s a big strong guy. He’s about 260. I would like to get him around 250. He’ll be a little quicker. I don’t think he’s going to lose any of that strength. He’s got a soft shooting touch.”
Prior to Monday’s game against Orlando, Allen has been averaging 19.2 minutes a game over the last five games. He scored 10 points and pulled down six rebounds in a win over the Washington Wizards. Allen had eight points and seven rebounds in last Friday’s victory over the Charlotte Bobcats. He’s averaging 5.4 points and 3.1 rebounds a game.
“It feels good just to help my team,” said Allen, a 6-foot-9, 260-pound power forward. “I’m just trying to hold it down until Spencer and Nic come back. It feels good. I’ve been learning all year long from the guys. I feel like my teammates trust me. I’ve been getting rebounds, playing good defense and scoring. My two main jobs are to get rebounds and play good defense. I try to spread the floor and get up and down. That’s what the coaches tell me to do.”
Allen has been doing these things for a long time. It goes back to his playing days at Pennsbury High School in Bucks County. The Morrisville native gradually developed into a standout player with a lot of work on his game. He attended college at Temple, where he was a great four-year player for the Owls.
Allen played in four NCAA tournaments during his college career. He was the first Temple player to average a double-double since Ollie Johnson did it in 1971. He averaged 11.6 points and 8.6 rebounds a game his senior year. Allen led the Owls to the second round of the NCAA tournament.
Although he plays for the Sixers, Allen has kept in touch with head coach Fran Dunphy and the Temple Owls, a benefit of playing for your hometown team.
“They’re doing pretty well,” Allen said. “They’re putting it all together. I get to visit them every once in a while on my off days. I go down and hang out with the guys.”
Temple is coming off a big win over Saint Joseph’s. This is a huge week for the Owls, but an even bigger week for the Sixers with all the great teams coming into the Wells Fargo Center.
If there’s one player who is excited about playing for the Philadelphia 76ers, it’s point guard Maalik Wayns. That shouldn’t come as a surprise. This is his hometown team. He grew up watching the Sixers.
Wayns was a huge basketball star at Roman Catholic High School and Villanova. He played in the Sonny Hill League. He’s a big part of the Philadelphia basketball fabric. He knows there’s nothing like playing NBA basketball in his hometown.
The 6-foot-2, 200-pounder, has been playing extremely well during the Sixers training camp at Saint Joseph’s Hagan Arena this week. He’s penetrating and looking for the open man. He’s stopping and taking the open jumper. He’s doing all the things that have made him a great player over the years. And he’s doing it here, which makes it even better for him.
“This feels great,” Wayns said. “This is a good opportunity and especially being home. This is my hometown. I’m embracing it. I’m taking it all in. I’m just happy for this opportunity. I’m happy to be in this situation.”
Wayns was signed as a rookie free agent over the summer. He was an early entry candidate for the NBA draft following his junior year at Villanova. He was named second team All-Big East in 2011-12 after averaging team-highs of 17.6 points and 4.6 assists to go along with 3.8 rebounds a game. Wayns ranked seventh in the country in free throw shooting (89.2 percent) this past season.
Despite his accomplishments, Wayns was not selected in this year’s draft. He did manage to play as a member of the Orlando Magic in the Orlando Pro Summer League. Wayns appeared in three games, tallying 11.7 points, 5.7 assists, 2.3 rebounds and 2.33 steals in 26.7 minutes a game. He was ranked second in the league in both assists and steals. That was enough to catch the eye of the Sixers.
Now, Wayns is showcasing his skills as a playmaker. The Sixers have veteran point guards Jrue Holiday and Royal Ivey, but they also have Wayns who can bring a lot of energy to the floor.
“That’s my game,” Wayns said. “That’s how I play. At Villanova, I had to score. That’s what the coach asked me to do. But now I can get back to my roots again and be a pure point guard. I think the summer league helped a whole lot. It showed how I can be a point guard. It was a good opportunity for me. It gave me a chance to show what I can do.”
Doug Collins, Sixers head coach, has been very pleased with his play in training camp.
“I love him,” Collins said. “He gives us a different element. He gives us speed. When he came in early working out, I watched him play. Our guys like him. They trust him. Maalik has a chance to be a real good player. He’s very comfortable here. I think he’s found a home.”
The Sixers will open the preseason against the Orlando Magic in Orlando on Oct. 11. The Sixers first home preseason game will be against the Boston Celtics on Oct. 15. They also have another home game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Oct. 17.
Wayns played a lot of college games at the Wells Fargo Center. Now, he’ll have a chance to play there as a member of the Philadelphia 76ers.