Brown urging Young to take more three-pointers

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Brown urging Young to take more three-pointers

Thaddeus Young was an opportunistic scorer the last couple years, paying attention to the ball coming off the rim and going to grab it or using his speed to get an easy deuce in transition.

In the Doug Collins coaching era, Young was a combined 8 for 34 from three-point range over three seasons. That was by choice -- his coach’s choice.

“Coach Collins didn’t really want me shooting a lot of threes,” Young explained. “He wanted me to be that inside guy who could dig out garbage points and hustle plays and things like that. He wanted me to be his opportunity scorer.

Brett Brown still wants Young to find sniff out those gritty points. He also wants the seven-year forward to expand his range.

“The other night he made three. Last year, he made two all season,” Brown said. “That is quite a statistic. It is not right or wrong because every coach has different philosophies in mind, but with him I think he can be different in that regard if he can start adding that to his game.”

“This gives me a chance to expand my game out to what it was the first couple years,” Young said. “Back then I was mixing it up outside inside, but this is just a good opportunity.”

In Young’s second and third years in the NBA, he made 104 of 302 shot attempts from behind the arc (34 percent).

Not only was there a different philosophy about shooting the three-pointer under Collins, but the former Sixers coach had different personnel that included Jodie Meeks, Lou Williams and Jrue Holiday -- all more prolific long-range shooters than Young.

Andre Iguodala and Evan Turner also took a piece of that three-point pie.

Fast forward to this rebuilding season the Sixers are in the midst of and you'll see a starting five that is not known for outside shooting.

To date, Michael Carter-Williams has the most made threes on the Sixers with 10, while Spencer Hawes has nine.

Young is 3 for 8 from behind the arc. All three of those makes came in the Sixers' win over the Wizards in Washington last week.

“Thaddeus is so unusual because it is not like he is going apples for apples against power four men,” Brown said. “He is an undersized four and maybe a three. With us he is a four because of the makeup of our team and so you say to yourself 'how do I get an advantage out of that?' And to me it is his speed and the fact that he can shoot threes.”

The beauty of Young is no matter what he is asked or how often that changes, he finds a way to answer the bell without a complaint.

“He is so compliant and does whatever you ask of him,” Brown said. “He is a good teammate, he is a good person. And this year we have empowered him to look for that type of shot.”

Without Joel Embiid, Brett Brown eager to see if Sixers can protect the rim

Without Joel Embiid, Brett Brown eager to see if Sixers can protect the rim

CAMDEN, N.J. — The Sixers have been challenged by playing without Joel Embiid in one of two games in a back-to-back series all season. Now they will have to do it in at least the next two straight games. 

“We’re going to be without him tomorrow (against the Clippers) and in Milwaukee and we’ll go from there,” Brett Brown said after practice Monday. 

Embiid, who was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week, suffered a left knee contusion in Friday’s win over the Trail Blazers. He did not travel with the team to Atlanta on Saturday for the back-to-back series. 

Brown called the decision “precautionary.” Embiid did not practice Monday but took some light shots after. He was pre-scheduled to sit out Wednesday against the Bucks in accordance with his limitations for consecutive games. Embiid is reportedly expected to return Friday against the Rockets.

The standout rookie leaves a glaring hole on the court when he misses games. The Sixers are 2-10 when he does not play. For all the ways Embiid dominates at the basket (22.4 points over the last 10 games), there is an obvious difference on the defensive end without him. 

“It’s still about our defense, it’s still about running, it’s still about sharing the ball,” Brown said. “I think you go with Jahlil (Okafor) and Nerlens (Noel) and challenge them in relation to rim protection and what Joel provides us. The group around them also has got to perform at a higher level when you don’t have Joel. I think that second group that we have been playing, led by Nerlens, really can take on a far greater defensive identity than it has recently, and Nerlens will be the captain of that.”

This is a time when the Sixers’ logjam at the five-spot actually helps them. Brown still has three true centers to turn to, in addition to power forwards Ersan Ilyasova and Dario Saric, whom he could slide into the position if they go small. Brown sees a silver lining for his bigs in the uphill battle of playing without Embiid. 

“It definitely hurts the team, how can we spin it any other way?” Brown said. “But like anything, you’re going to now look at Nerlens and Jahlil. This is fantastic for those two. It could prove, based on some things, Richaun (Holmes) sees daylight a little bit. 

“There aren’t many teams, I would suspect, that have the ability to roll out three young guys when somebody like Joel goes down and look forward to watching them develop more, look forward to giving them the opportunity to play NBA minutes.”

Okafor has been receiving the start when Embiid is out. (He has been out of the rotation when Embiid does play.) Okafor, though, is dealing with right knee soreness he experienced on Saturday. The Sixers kept an eye on him Monday and held him out of 5-on-5 drills in practice. Okafor said the team was being cautious, and he wanted to rest his knee given the number of games coming up. He is listed as probable against the Clippers.

“It was bothering me a little bit in the warmup lines, I started to feel it. When I got going, it started feeling really good, then when I sat out for an extended period, it got kind of sore on me again,” Okafor explained. “Today they were trying to make sure I could get back to being 100 percent because they knew that my knee was bothering me. They haven’t really told me what the plan was for tomorrow. Today was really focused on getting me back to being healthy.”

The Clippers are shorthanded, as well. Blake Griffin has been sidelined since Dec. 18 because of a right knee procedure and Chris Paul had surgery to repair a ligament tear in his left thumb. Griffin could make his return against the Sixers.

Embiid's honor
Embiid's Player of the Week honor is rare for a rookie. He's only the third Sixers rookie ever to win it, joining Allen Iverson and Michael Carter-Williams.

The last Sixer before Embiid to be named Eastern Conference Player of the Week was Thaddeus Young in January 2014.

The Sixers won all three games Embiid played last week. He averaged 22.0 points, 10.3 rebounds and 3.7 blocks.

Joel Embiid (left knee) to miss Sixers' next two games

Joel Embiid (left knee) to miss Sixers' next two games

Update: 4 p.m.

Joel Embiid did not practice on Monday and is listed as doubtful for the Sixers' game Tuesday against the Clippers.

Embiid hyperextended his left knee in the Sixers' 93-92 win over the Blazers Friday. He said after the game that the knee was fine, but the Sixers are clearly exercising caution with their young star center.

"I knew it was OK. I just landed the wrong way," Embiid said Friday. "I'm great. The knee's fine. They did an MRI and stuff, everything looked good."

The Sixers are calling it a left knee contusion. Embiid will also rest on Wednesday against the Bucks. He is expected to return Friday against the Rockets, according to The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski.

The Sixers are 13-17 when Embiid plays and 2-10 without him. Brett Brown is looking forward to seeing how the defense responds without its centerpiece Tuesday and Wednesday (see story).

Jahlil Okafor (right knee soreness) was limited at Monday's practice but is probable to play the Clippers.

Okafor had 12 points, four rebounds and three blocks in 30 minutes in Saturday's 110-93 loss at Atlanta.

CSN Philly's Jessica Camerato contributed to this report.