Collins wants Holiday to enjoy All-Star experience


Collins wants Holiday to enjoy All-Star experience

Sometimes it’s easy to forget to stop to smell the roses.

That’s why when Jrue Holiday heads to Houston after the Sixers’ game in Milwaukee on Wednesday night, head coach Doug Collins wants his All-Star point guard to soak it all in.

You know, stop and enjoy the golf course.

Wait … the golf course?

“Sometimes I can be out on the most beautiful golf course in the world and be playing horrible golf and forget that I’m playing on the most beautiful course in the world,” Collins said. “Enjoy the golf course.”

So when Holiday shows up in Houston for his first All-Star Game, Collins wants him to enjoy the course. Holiday should take a look around, says Collins. He should watch what some of the veterans do and pick their brains a little bit.

You know, enjoy the golf course.

“I hope it will be an experience that he remembers forever,” Collins said. “Mine was doubly important to me because it was in Philadelphia. It was 1976 for the Bicentennial game. What I would like him to do is walk in the locker room and just take a look around.

“Look in that locker room. Look who you’re sitting with. You’re 22 years old. Look around. Look at the men in that room. Look at your coach and look at the championships they have won, look at the gold medals they have won. Watch how they prepare themselves.”

Besides, Holiday might have to copy some of those preparation rites for next Sunday’s All-Star Game because there is a decent chance he could be called on to start the game. With Rajon Rondo out for the rest of the season with an ACL injury, the Eastern Conference has two point guards remaining on the roster. Miami coach Erik Spoelstra has to decide on either Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving or Holiday to take Rondo’s spot in the starting lineup.

Holiday, of course, has had a terrific season. In 46 games he leads the Sixers with 19.1 points and 8.8 assists per game. He also is averaging a career-best 38.3 minutes per game, along with a 45.4 shooting percentage.

Holiday is seventh in the NBA in minutes per game, 13th in points per game and fourth in assists per game.

However, in his second NBA season, Irving is becoming a star among stars. He’s averaging 23.9 points per game, while shooting 47.3 percent from the field with 5.5 assists and 1.7 steals per game. Irving’s Player Efficiency Rating (PER), the most important metric for the analytic types in the NBA, is a robust 22.8. The 12 players with a higher PER than Irving are all All-Stars.

Nevertheless, Irving will also be playing in the Rising Stars game on Saturday night. If that effort proves to be too taxing for him, maybe Holiday will get the starting nod.

Regardless of whether he starts the game or comes off the bench for a few minutes, Holiday says he’s going to take Collins’ advice to heart.

“I’m going to take it all in,” Holiday said. “God willing I get back there again, but sometimes it’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance. Take it all in and have fun.”

Who knows, maybe Holiday can pick up a few things from soaking in the atmosphere at the All-Star Game. After all, Holiday spent last summer playing for the U.S. Select team, which spent a week scrimmaging against the U.S. Olympic team in its training camp in Las Vegas. Based on the reports, the U.S. Select team gave the U.S. Olympic team some of its best competition last summer.

So following a stint with the U.S. team, Holiday has enjoyed a breakout season with the Sixers this year. Collins is hoping his point guard picks up some more nuances to add to his game whether through watching or osmosis.

If anything, Collins hopes Holiday sees how the other All-Stars prepare themselves to play and copies it.

“I used to say that Michael Jordan had an internal body clock. It was like a certain time would come and (clap!), it was time to get ready to play,” Collins said. “How do you get yourself in that moment every single night? The biggest part about laying this game is getting yourself ready to play. So watch, pick it up, talk to people. Talk to LeBron (James), talk to these guys you admire. Enjoy the game and enjoy the experience. I just want him to take it all in.”

But most of all, enjoy the golf course.

“Your first [All-Star Game], there is no other like it,” Collins said. “Enjoy the golf course, man. You’re on Pebble Beach. If you hit No. 8 in the water, the hell with it.”

Point guard Joel Embiid? Sixers' big man works on leading break

Point guard Joel Embiid? Sixers' big man works on leading break

CAMDEN, N.J. — Toward the end of Sixers practice Monday, Joel Embiid participated in a fast-break drill … by himself.

Embiid brought the ball up the floor in a one-on-none situation against members of the Sixers' coaching staff. 

He's already showed off his three-point shooting skills and now he’s running the break? 

“I’ve always thought I was a point guard,” Embiid joked. “So that’s something that I want to do.”

In all seriousness, Embiid worked on his ball-handling skills during his two-year rehab from foot injuries. It’s not that he wants to become an unconventional point guard, it’s that he is striving to be an all-around threat. Embiid focused on recording his first assist, as an example, during the preseason. 

“I think I’m a complete player,” he said. “I think I can do everything on the court. Doing that shows I think it can help my team, too, in other aspects.” 

With running the break comes attacking the basket in traffic. It could be an anxious moment for a coach to watch a player fresh off two years of foot injuries to drive in a crowd. Sixers head coach Brett Brown said he has to be past the feeling of holding his breath whenever he watches Embiid do so. 

“We are so responsible with how we use him and play him,” Brown said. “It’s like us with children. They go out for the night. You’re nervous, but they go out for the night. He plays basketball for a living, and so he plays. We’ve just got to keep putting him in responsible environments and monitoring his minutes.”

As a point guard, T.J. McConnell appreciates Embiid’s skills, especially given his size. 

“To the people that try to pick him up when he brings the ball up the floor, good luck,” McConnell said. “It’s pretty incredible to see.” 

Robert Covington watched Embiid practice his ball handling during his lengthy recovery. He has seen improvements and likes the dynamic it creates for the team on the break. 

“His handle is really tight and then he’s really strong with it as well,” Covington said. “We’re very comfortable with him pushing the ball.”

That being said, Brown isn’t about to anoint Embiid into a point-center role. He knows Embiid’s desire to be active all over the court, but just as he’s said he doesn’t intend for Embiid to become a go-to three-point shooter, he also wants Embiid to focus on his true position. 

“Joel likes to be a player,” Brown said. “He wants to be a guard. He wants to shoot a three. He wants to be a post player. He wants to play. And we all have seen enough to think he actually can. 

“There are times that he rebounds and leads a break, we want him being aware of get off it, get it to a point guard more than not. I don’t mind him coming down in trail if he’s got daylight, him shooting some. He’s got a wonderful touch and I’ve seen it for two years. 

“... All over the place, I want to grow him. I’m not just going to bucket him up. I still say, like I say to him, 'At the end of the day, you’re a seven-foot-two post player. Post player.'”

Watch Embiid running the floor here:

Sixers cut Brandon Paul, Dionte Christmas, 3 others to set 15-man roster

Sixers cut Brandon Paul, Dionte Christmas, 3 others to set 15-man roster

In a preseason full of unexpected turns, the Sixers' final cuts were as anticipated.

The Sixers on Monday waived guards Cat Barber, Dionte Christmas, Brandon Paul and forwards Shawn Long and James Webb III to trim their regular-season roster to 15. 

Long, Paul and Webb had been with the Sixers since summer league. Barber signed with the team for training camp. Philadelphia native Christmas was the newest addition. He joined the Sixers the day of the deadline (see story)

The Sixers own the D-League rights to Barber, Christmas, Long and Webb. They are expected to land with the affiliate Delaware 87ers. 

Paul’s D-League rights are owned by the Cavaliers. He has received interest from other NBA teams, according to a source, and has not discussed playing in the Development League. 

Long appeared in each of the Sixers' preseason games. He averaged 4.0 points and 2.3 rebounds. Webb posted 4.2 points and 3.8 rebounds in six games. 

Paul averaged 7.3 points (36.4 percent from three) and 2.3 rebounds in four games. Barber was sidelined during the preseason by a right hand/wrist injury. He played two games, averaging 5.5 points, 1.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists. 

Christmas, 30, had planned to play this season in Greece and decided on Sunday to sign with the Sixers instead of returning overseas. 

The Sixers waived 17-year veteran Elton Brand last weekend after he announced his intention to retire. 

Here's the Sixers' complete roster:

2016-17 Sixers
Robert Covington, SF, 6-9/215
Joel Embiid, C, 7-2/250
Jerami Grant, F, 6-8/210
Gerald Henderson, G, 6-5/215
Richaun Holmes, F, 6-10/245
Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, G/F, 6-6/205
T.J. McConnell, PG, 6-2/200
Jahlil Okafor, C, 6-11/275
Sergio Rodriguez, PG, 6-3/176
Dario Saric, F, 6-10/223
Nik Stauskas, G, 6-6/205
Hollis Thompson, G/F, 6-8/206

Inactive list
Jerryd Bayless, PG, 6-3/200
Nerlens Noel, PF/C, 6-11/228
Ben Simmons, F, 6-10/240