PHOENIX -- The Sixers were one short when the team gathered Thursday night at the U.S. Airways Center, home of the Phoenix Suns. Rookie guard Lorenzo Brown had been assigned to the Sixers' D-League affiliate, the 87ers.
Brown is the first player on the Sixers' roster to be sent to the 87ers, a team the franchise acquired this past offseason.
Drafted 52nd overall by the Timberwolves in June out of N.C. State, Brown played in 13 games for the Sixers after being signed as a free agent on Nov. 20. He averaged just 11 minutes, and with Michael Carter-Williams back on floor, Brown’s minutes were destined to diminish.
So the only way to learn more about Brown and his future as a pro was to see him play. And he can’t do that with the Sixers right now. Thus, the D-League.
“I think that Lorenzo is smart enough to understand that is how he has to position himself. That is the truth,” Sixers coach Brett Brown said. “That is what we are looking at. We want to learn more about him. Nobody wants to hide or be afraid of failure. I think he has to jump into this as he will and grab it and use it as an opportunity to play.”
The D-League has helped a number of players -- many whom came through the San Antonio Spurs' organization during Brown's tenure as an assistant coach for 12 years.
“I had great experiences over many, many years with how to use that program, from sending Corey Joseph down there then bringing him back for the NBA playoffs [and] the finals,” Brown said. “I watched the development of Ian Mahinmi, the development of Aron Baynes. Patty Mills went down there and Nando de Colo, and you bring them up and down and people handle it one of two ways: They take it as an insult and a demotion or they treat it as an incredible opportunity to go play basketball games and get minutes and have opportunities to be seen in that light."
His second year in the league, former Sixer Lou Williams wasn't happy when he was assigned to the D-League -- despite that he wasn't seeing any playing time playing behind Allen Iverson at the NBA level.
Years later, Williams would look back at that experience differently.
“I think it's good for guys who have a bunch of talent but aren't getting much playing time to go and get their confidence,” Williams said, when still with the Sixers three years ago. “I played three games in the D-league my second year, and it was able to get me kick started for my career. I haven't looked back since.”