Maalik Wayns grew up playing basketball in Philly. Wayns, former Roman Catholic and Villanova basketball star, is a big fan of the 76ers. He had a chance to show the Sixers what he could do on Monday at PCOM in a pre-draft workout with prospects Zack Rosen (Penn), Terrell Stoglin (Maryland) and Scott Machado (Iona).
“It was a good (workout),” Wayns said. “It’s my hometown team. It’s the team I grew up watching. I’m a Sixers fan. It’s like a dream come true. I’m just living the dream right now. I’m getting a work out. I’m getting to meet guys like Mr. (Rod) Thorn (president of basketball operations) Sonny Hill (executive adviser) and Coach (Tony) DiLeo (senior vice president of basketball operations), I think it went great.”
Wayns was an early entry candidate, leaving Villanova following his junior season. The 6-foot-2, 185-pound point guard, was named second-team All-Big East. He averaged 17.6 points, 4.6 assists and 3.8 rebounds a game. Wayns led the Wildcats in scoring and assists. He had 39 points with 13 rebounds and six assists against Cincinnati.
The Wildcats’ backcourt ace has been watching rookie Lavoy Allen play a key role in the Sixers’ playoff run. Wayns played against Allen during his college career at Temple. Allen, a 6-foot-10, 245-pound power forward, was a second-round pick of the Sixers in last year’s NBA draft. Allen has inspired Wayns this NBA postseason.
“I’ve watched Lavoy a whole a lot,” Wayns said. “We played AAU together. I heard a whole lot about him last year. Guys said he couldn’t make it. He wouldn’t be drafted, this and that. Now, he’s playing better than guys who went in the top 20 or top 30. It’s not about where you start. It’s about how you progress and how you finish. I think he’s proven a lot of people wrong, as did a lot of guys who went in the second round. It’s all about your opportunity and how you take advantage of it.”
According to the website nbadraft.net, Wayns is going to the Portland Trail Blazers with the No. 41 pick in the second round. He tries not to concern himself with the NBA mock drafts.
“I really don’t pay any attention to it,” he said. “I know the teams that are bringing me in are interested in me. I just try to go and workout and do my best and just take it from there.”
It’s been a busy time for Wayns. This wasn’t his first NBA pre-draft workout. It won’t be his last either. He has a hectic schedule ahead of him. The NBA Draft Lottery will take place on May 30. The NBA draft will be held on June 28.
“I was just in New Jersey for the Nets’ Combine,” he said. “I’m headed to L-A right after this (workout) for the Clippers. Then, I’m going to Golden State (Warriors). Then, I got like 15 more (workouts).”
Wayns would like to join other Villanova products in the NBA such as Randy Foye (Los Angeles Clippers), Dante Cunningham (Memphis Grizzlies) and Kyle Lowry (Houston Rockets). He talks regularly to Lowry, who has emerged as a solid point guard in the NBA.
“I talk to Kyle like two or three times a week,” Wayns said. “He always gives me good advice. He wishes good luck. He tells me what to do and what not to do.”
Wayns knows how to play this game. Next month, he could be hearing his name called during the NBA draft.
Andre Iguodala and Andrew Bynum will forever be linked in the same transaction.
The All-Stars weren't traded straight up — yes, it took four teams, 10 other players, and five draft picks to move Iguodala from Philadelphia to Denver and Bynum from the Los Angeles Lakers to the 76ers — but in Philly, the trade is viewed through a one-for-one prism.
Without a game played, Sixers fans say their team came out on top.
While Bynum remains indefinitely sidelined with a bone bruise in his right knee, the Sixers faithful would have traded Iguodala for some warm bodies to fill the training camp roster.
Credit general manager Tony DiLeo and team president Rod Thorn for getting so much more for Iguodala, a player who had come to represent the mediocrity that plagued the Sixers until last season's surprising run to the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Iguodala was a solid player for nine seasons with the Sixers, playing a full 82 games in five of them, and was easily their top perimeter defender. He was one of the flashier dunkers in the league and his long road toward stardom was rewarded last season with his first All-Star berth and a gold medal in London playing for the star-studded U.S. men's team.
He was just never fully embraced by Philly fans.
His biggest moment came last season after Iguodala sank the winning free throws with 2.2 seconds left in a 79-78 victory over the top-seeded Chicago Bulls in Game 6, helping them advance to the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs for the first time since 2003.
Iguodala hopped on the scorer's table and played to the crowd as the catchy 76ers' anthem blared in the arena.
The fans went wild and, for a moment, he was the most popular athlete in Philly.
It's the highlight the Sixers will surely play in a video tribute to Iguodala before the Nuggets open the season at Philadelphia on Wednesday night.
The video might be the only reason almost 20,000 fans don't boo him out of the building.
Iguodala criticized the way coach Doug Collins handled him and said he didn't enjoy basketball most of the last two seasons. He told CBSSports.com his enthusiasm from last season was dampened because he found criticism "draining."
Well, that won't endear him to anyone in his return to Philadelphia. Not that he cares.
"I really haven't thought about it," Iguodala said.
Asked in Denver if he hoped he'd be cheered, Iguodala said, "I really don't care. It's just basketball."
Collins, starting his third season coaching the 76ers, took the high road discussing Iguodala.
"He left on a very high note, which is the thing I'm very happy about," Collins said. "The two years that I was here, what we did, he was such a huge part of it. I'm sure Dre's going to want to come in here and win."
Iguodala's return will be overshadowed by Bynum's absence.
The 25-year-old Bynum will sit out the opener as he recovers from the bone bruise that has plagued him since before the start of training camp. Bynum was held out of all preseason activity and the Sixers ran their offense without him, instead of through him, for the last month.
Bynum told the Sixers he could play with the pain he's feeling. The Sixers are being cautious with Bynum and refuse to rush him back. They'd rather have the services of the center considered the best in the East for the long haul instead of a few games, or even a few weeks, at the start of the season.
Bynum is coming off his best NBA season after averaging career highs with 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds while making his first All-Star team, starting for the West. He was the NBA's third-leading rebounder and 20th-leading scorer, while also ranking sixth in the league with 1.93 blocked shots per game.
"I know one thing, I know he wants to play right now," Collins said. "We have to really be smart in all the things we do in help him monitor that situation. Sometimes, an athlete's competitive heart can get the best of him."
The Sixers said Tuesday that Bynum has started low-impact conditioning work, and will be re-evaluated by medical personnel on a continuous basis. Bynum shot 3-pointers while his teammates egged him on following a late practice at the Wells Fargo Center.
"He's feeling a lot better and his spirits are better," Collins said Tuesday. "That's all positive stuff."
Collins said power forward Thaddeus Young and center Lavoy Allen will start.
They're a nice duo for sure, but the Sixers aren't an Atlantic Division contender without Bynum. -- (AP)