Sixers Notes: Despite skid, Brown loves his team

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Sixers Notes: Despite skid, Brown loves his team

HOUSTON – Though the 76ers are generating news with their 25-game losing streak entering Thursday’s road game at Houston, head coach Brett Brown doesn’t seem to mind answering the questions about the second-longest losing streak in NBA history.

And the rookie coach certainly enjoys coaching this team, the youngest in the league.

“In a twisted way this is enjoyable,” Brown said. “I’m watching the guys get better. We’re headed in the right direction.

“We encourage them to feel good about themselves. We’re the youngest team in the history of the game. With that comes some losing.”

The losses mount. The previous franchise record of 20 straight losses set in 1973 was eclipsed. There are six rookies on the current roster and James Nunnally and Casper Ware are on 10-day contracts.

“This year we’re judged by different measurements,” Brown said. “Our guys are bringing their ‘A’ effort.

“We realize we’re coaching a bunch of young players. That’s fine by me. That’s what I signed up for. I love coaching the group.”

Nunnally pleased to be back
James Nunnally isn’t overly concerned about the Sixers' losing streak. He’s glad to be part of the team and the league. On Thursday the club signed the 6-foot-7 forward from California-Santa Barbara to a second 10-day contract.

“It means they’re looking at me, watching me,” said Nunnally. “I just have to come out and play more aggressive. Be myself and play within myself.

“I’m really blessed to be in the NBA. I’ll play anywhere on any team. I know it’s a rebuilding year for this team. They’re looking for guys to build with in the future. I just got to play.”

Nunnally has appeared in five games this season with the Sixers. In 35 games between Bakersfield and Texas of the D-League, Nunnally was averaging 18.1 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists.

Nunnally’s specialty is three-point shooting.

“I can definitely fill that role,” he said. “I feel I can do much more but that’s what they want me to do here.”

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."