Carter-Williams takes home April rookie honors

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Carter-Williams takes home April rookie honors

Michael Carter-Williams was named the Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for the fourth time this season on Friday.

Carter-Williams is the first Sixer to earn Rookie of the Month honors more than twice in a season.

By claiming the award for April, Carter-Williams may have sealed his claim on the Rookie of the Year Award. Caron Butler, Brandon Jennings and John Wall are the only two players who were named Rookie of the Month four times and failed to win the Rookie of the Year

Carter-Williams joins Butler, Jennings, Wall, Damian Lillard, Blake Griffin, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, LeBron James, Tim Duncan, Shaquille O'Neal, David Robinson, Ralph Sampson and Terry Cummings as the only players to win four Rookie of the Month awards.

In eight games in April, Carter-Williams averaged 17.6 points, 7.5 rebounds and 6.4 assists while shooting 53 percent from the floor. He had 21 points and a career-high 14 rebounds in a win over Boston on April 14. He also added six assists and four steals in the game. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last rookie to record at least 21 points, 14 rebounds, six assists and four steals in a game was Bernard King on March 24, 1978.

Selected No. 11 in the 2013 NBA draft, Carter-Williams averaged 16.7 points, 6.3 assists, 6.2 rebounds and 1.86 steals this season. He became just the third player dating back to 1950-51 to lead rookies in points per game, rebounds per game and assists per game, joining Oscar Robertson (1960-61) and Alvan Adams (1975-76).

Carter-Williams also joins Robertson and Magic Johnson (1979-80) as the only players to average at least 16.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 6.0 assists in their rookie season.

Sixers being cautious with Jahlil Okafor early in training camp

Sixers being cautious with Jahlil Okafor early in training camp

GALLOWAY, N.J. — The Sixers lost Jahlil Okafor for the final 23 games last season because of a small meniscus tear in his right knee. Now they are being cautious as he prepares for his second year.

As part of the Sixers’ prescheduled load management for Okafor, he participated in a portion of practice and then worked out individually with head strength and conditioning coach Todd Wright.

“They just told me to relax once I did what they wanted me to do today,” Okafor said. “I was off to the sidelines. I feel fine. I’ll be good tomorrow.”

Okafor learned during his first NBA season that he should speak more openly with the staff about his body.

“Communication is key,” he said. “I think last year I didn’t really communicate how I was feeling, so I wasn’t able to get the help I needed.”

The team held three practice sessions in the first two days of training camp. Okafor said he knew the Sixers would be cautious with his workload. He is poised to improve upon his rookie year in which he averaged 17.5 points and 7.0 rebounds in 53 games last season.

“I’m 100 percent healthy,” he said. “I’m all good.”

Joel Embiid adjusting to new challenges in 1st NBA training camp

Joel Embiid adjusting to new challenges in 1st NBA training camp

GALLOWAY, N.J. -- With Joel Embiid's excitement to be on the court following two years of injuries comes the reality of his lengthy setback.

Embiid is participating in his first NBA training camp this week. While he has impressed with his natural abilities and improved skills, Embiid is facing challenges as he gets accustomed to the league.

"Everything is kind of off right now as far as catching the ball or shooting," Embiid said after practice Wednesday. "I've still got to get in the flow of the game."

Embiid has yet to play since being drafted in 2014. For the past two years he has worked out individually and in controlled settings. Practices, even in training camp, are different. 

"You see all the time when you realize he hasn't played basketball for a long time," Sixers head coach Brett Brown said. "He's trying to gather his feet and find his balance, he's trying to figure out stuff in real time speed on defensive assignments and rotations."

On Wednesday, Embiid went through practice without any minute restrictions and was feeling healthier from the cold and virus he had been battling (see story). Teammates have praised his physical presence and eagerness to compete. He makes an impact with his 7-foot-2 presence alone, but there is more he wants to improve. 

Embiid is adjusting to the speed of the game. He has been facing challenges with getting the ball in the post and spoke to the coaches about his frustrations. The staff explained they are focusing on pick-and-roll defense and getting out to run during training camp, but he will get that desired location in game situations. 

“You continue to see the size of Joel Embiid,” Brown said. “He's a big man and he's got a mindset to back up his physical gifts. He really wants the ball. He wants to get deep catches. He wants to dunk on people.”

Embiid always has been realistic about his transition to his rookie season. He has pointed out many times that he is a fast learner, and is anxious to soak up new knowledge and apply it to the court.

"It's really frustrating," he said. "But like I've said, you've got to trust the process, which I've been doing."