Allen knows Noel can make difference in paint


Allen knows Noel can make difference in paint

Last season, the Sixers were definitely lean at the center position. Andrew Bynum never played a game, leaving Spencer Hawes and Lavoy Allen to man the middle -- serviceable backups but not the preferred starter in either case.

Hawes made 40 starts, averaged 11 points, 7.2 rebounds and played 27 minutes a night. Allen was in the starting lineup 37 times. He averaged 5.8 points and five rebounds, playing 21 minutes per game.

Hawes' rebounding average ranked 14th among NBA centers last year, a statistic that would surprise many. Hawes’ 1.4 blocks per game also ranked ninth at his position.

However, basketball fans like big men who can dominate. They see a 7-footer and they expect statistics that are equally as large.

The franchise hopes down the road that Nerlens Noel is that kind of game-changer and the Kentucky product already has a fan in Allen.

“We have the same agent, but in college he was a great shot blocker. He can get up and down the floor,” Allen said of the Noel, who averaged 4.4 blocks per game during his lone season in college. “A rim-protector can do a lot. We haven’t had that the last couple years here. I used to be one in high school but that was facing 6-3 kids back then. It will be great for us.”

Noel is 6-foot-11 but weighs just 219 pounds. It stands to reason that the Sixers' rookie will need to add bulk in order to survive the rigors of playing in the low post in the NBA.

Allen, heading into his third NBA season, is minus two inches and plus 36 pounds on his rookie teammate. But Allen is not ready to say Noel needs to get bigger in order to reach his full potential.

“What he lacks in size he makes up for in length,” Allen said of Noel. “He’s real athletic, so we will have to see how he does.”

We will have to see how Allen does as well. Critics found Allen’s second NBA season to be a disappointment in comparison to his 2012 postseason performance in which he more than held his own against Kevin Garnett in a seven-game Eastern Conference semifinal series.

“I have just been working out,” Allen said of his offseason. “I have taken a vacation here and there, but mostly I have been in the gym.

“They said we (Sixers) are doing a rebuilding process. Now all our trust is in Sam Hinkie, with the whole coaching search and things like that. We are behind him 100 percent.”

Jahlil Okafor eager for more minutes as knee heals

Jahlil Okafor eager for more minutes as knee heals

CAMDEN, N.J. — Jahlil Okafor has been patient with his right knee. He was disciplined with restrictions and recovery during the preseason, recognizing the goal of being ready for opening night. 

At the same time, once he got back on the court he wanted more. Okafor played eight minutes Friday against the Heat, his first game since Feb. 28 before undergoing surgery to repair a right meniscus tear. 

“I don’t think I’m going to do eight again,” Okafor said Sunday. “They kind of heard me complain about that a lot. I think it’ll definitely be more than eight, but it won’t be much more.” 

Okafor has been limited since reaggravating his knee during the final day of training camp. He practiced “to tolerance” on Sunday, according to the Sixers. Okafor did not participate in the team scrimmage and worked out individually with assistant coach/head of strength and conditioning Todd Wright. 

The second-year big man did not feel soreness on Saturday following the game. On Sunday, he felt “kind of stiff” during practice. Brett Brown has been watching Okafor’s movement closely. While Okafor considered it to be “good,” Brown was a tougher critic. 

“I think he looked OK,” Brown said. “He didn’t look great to me today. I’ll give him a B-minus … It’s always how do you move? East, west, north, south, how do you move?” 

Okafor scored four points, one rebound, one assist, one block and one turnover in Miami. He focused on his defense during the game. When he subbed out, he checked in with Elton Brand on the bench to receive feedback from the now-retired veteran. Okafor plans to continue to tap into him for advice throughout the season. 

With opening night three days away, Okafor still plans to be on the floor for it.

“I am optimistic about it,” he said. “I should be ready to go.” 

Robert Covington sprained his right ankle in Friday’s game and did not practice Sunday. Brown anticipates Covington, who has been starting at small forward, also will be ready to go Wednesday. 

“I do (expect him to play),” Brown said. “But we won’t know that for sure yet.” 

Sixers waive retired Elton Brand
The Sixers waived Brand on Sunday, making his retirement official. Brand announced his intentions to walk away from the game Thursday. The Sixers' request of waivers was a procedural step. The roster currently stands at 19. 

“It’s been an honor, it’s been a privilege to play this game, the game that I love, and I’m certainly going to miss it,” Brand said last week (see story). “But it’s definitely time now.” 

Brand celebrated his career with his teammates at Komodo in Miami on Thursday night ahead of their preseason finale against the Heat. 

Report: Nerlens Noel expected out 3-5 weeks after left knee surgery

Report: Nerlens Noel expected out 3-5 weeks after left knee surgery

It appears the Sixers' frontcourt logjam may not be an issue early on.

Nerlens Noel, who is having surgery Monday for an inflamed plica in his left knee, will miss the first three to five weeks of the season, according to Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Noel suffered a left groin injury in the first preseason game against the Celtics and missed the rest of the preseason. While undergoing treatment, Noel reported left knee soreness, which led to the discovery of the inflamed plica.

It's been an odd start to the season for Noel. The big man was outspoken about his displeasure with the Sixers' frontcourt situation early in camp. With the deadline for Noel's rookie contract extension approaching on Oct. 31, the team has not had conversations about it, according to a report.

The Sixers are already without No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons as he recovers from surgery to repair a Jones fracture in his right foot. The team will also be without their starting point guard Jerryd Bayless who is dealing with a ligament issue in his left wrist. Bayless won't require surgery and will be reevaluated in two weeks.