Wyatt recognizes he's still a work in progress


Wyatt recognizes he's still a work in progress

Former Temple standout Khalif Wyatt will make his first trip out of the country when the Sixers travel to Spain and England for two preseason games.

He intends to take a lot in, both on and off the court.

“I have never been out of the country, so that will be a good experience,” Wyatt said after Sixers training camp ended on Wednesday. “Then I hope I go out there and get me some minutes and play and show that I belong. You are never done proving yourself, so this will be another opportunity to show people what you can do.”

Wyatt went undrafted in June. The 6-foot-4, 205-pound guard then joined the Sixers’ summer league team before being given a contract last month.

Head coach Brett Brown sees potential in Wyatt, but warns that he, like a lot of players on the current roster, has a long way to go in the development process.

“We keep talking about him getting as fit as he can be because he gets quicker and faster,” Brown explained. “I think he is starting to get a little bit of a swagger and toughness, and those are the areas that I will always challenge Khalif.

“He has a long way to go like everybody else, but at times you see things that make him unique.”

Wyatt is 15 pounds lighter than he was when the Owls were ousted from the NCAA Tournament back in March in his final collegiate game. He knows fitness will be a major point of emphasis playing under Brown.

“He harps on fitness and conditioning and your body fat and your weight,” Wyatt said. “He looks into it a lot. He wants to make sure I am in the best shape possible and he is definitely pushing me.”

Wyatt considers himself a combo guard and saw time at both backcourt positions throughout camp. If Wyatt can indeed play both ends of the floor and at both positions, his chances of having a lengthy NBA career increase dramatically.

“That helps me out more. If the point guard gets tired, I can play point,” Wyatt said. “If they need a scorer, I can do that. It helps me out that I am not limited to one position.”

The greatest concern for Wyatt at the NBA level is his defense. Will he be able to keep up players on the court who are far more athletic than he is?

“Coach Brown wants to see me defend,” Wyatt admitted. “He knows I can shoot and score a little bit, but he wants to see if I can defend. I think I competed at the defensive end all week. I got better. I watched film with coaches just of myself on defense. I am just trying to get footwork down and give him my maximum effort on defense every time down.

“The one or the two is going to be hard to guard. There are great ones and twos in this league, and it is going to be tough,, but you have to get better and keep pushing and compete. As long as you compete and have confidence in yourself, that is the main thing.”

The Owls posted a 24-10 record last year in Wyatt’s senior season. It is quite possible that the Sixers could be hovering around the same win total this season.

Wyatt isn’t discouraged by the prospect of mounting losses, so long as the team shows growth.

“As long as a team we keep getting better and individually keep getting better, the wins and losses will come,” he said. “We have to buy into the stuff that Coach Brown has to teach. We are trying to lay a stepping stone for the next couple of years.”

Brett Brown: Sixers' Nik Stauskas set for 'breakout year'

Brett Brown: Sixers' Nik Stauskas set for 'breakout year'

CAMDEN, N.J. — The irony of Nik Stauskas’ reputation as a three-point shooter is that he doesn’t view himself that way.

Stauskas was drafted eighth overall by the Kings in 2014 after shooting 44.1 percent from three over two years at Michigan. But that’s not how he envisioned himself being in the pros.

“It’s crazy,” Stauskas said after practice Thursday. “I know I was a great shooter coming out of Michigan, but I don’t consider myself a shooter. I consider myself a gamer. I don’t think I’m an effective NBA player when I just stand and spot up and shoot threes. That’s really not my game.”

Stauskas has struggled to find offensive consistency in the NBA. The third-year two-guard averaged 32.4 percent from long range in his first two seasons. He wasn’t reliable as a knockdown shooter and bounced in and out of the starting lineup last season.

Rather than being a finesse player, Brett Brown encouraged Stauskas to get aggressive. Brown wanted to a see an edge from Stauskas and not hold back at the basket.

Stauskas displayed that side to his game on opening night against the Thunder. In 23 minutes off the bench, he scored 13 points on 5-for-6 shooting. His only miss came on a three-point attempt. His 83.3 shooting percentage was a single-game career high.

“He was cocky,” Brown said. “He was in attack mode. He was not afraid to put it to the floor and get to the rim. I feel like he’s got a real chance to have a breakout year. We need him to have a breakout year.”

The Sixers picked up the options on Stauskas, Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor on Thursday.

“I think the statement the club made on his contract lets him probably have a little bit more comfort on what we think of him,” Brown said. “I was really happy with his swagger last night.”

Stauskas is figuring out his role on the Sixers this season. It is one that can change often given injuries. A key to being successful, whether he is on the perimeter or at the rim, is feeling confident and in a rhythm on the floor.

“I had fun out there,” Stauskas said. “More than anything, I think yesterday was the first time in a while that I’ve really enjoyed myself out there and had a smile on my face.”

Sixers players 'thrown off' by anthem ordeal, figuring out how to respond

Sixers players 'thrown off' by anthem ordeal, figuring out how to respond

CAMDEN, N.J. — The Sixers held a team meeting on Thursday to address the situation surrounding the national anthem performance on opening night. 

Sevyn Streeter was slated to sing the anthem Wednesday. She said she was replaced that night for wearing a shirt that said "We Matter.” On Thursday, Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo brought in a representative from the organization to meet with the team for around 40 minutes. 

“I think right now everybody’s learning what’s gone on, trying to gather information,” Brett Brown, who heard of the news Thursday morning, said. “Clearly our players are concerned and we hear them. We’re with them. I’m with them. I think how it’s handled going forward, how we share an inclusive sort of decision on how we deal with this moving forward will be discussed later. But right now it has been brought to the players’ attention and my attention.”

CBS3 reported Thursday that Streeter had signed a contract that barred her from making a political statement during the performance.

Brown was asked by a reporter if he would like amends to be made to Streeter.

“I think all that is on the table,” Brown said. “I think how we handle it as a group is going to be thoroughly discussed. We understand the situation and we respect the social issue involved. We completely get it. As a group, we will try to find a way to deal with this.”

The team is considering numerous options, Nik Stauskas said. He recounted there was a sense of disappointment among the players that Streeter was not able to sing. 

“I think the team, not only do we want to speak up on the matter that happened yesterday, but I feel like we’re now starting to push, like it’s not just about saying something, it’s about making a difference,” he said. “It’s about going out there and doing something. So we don’t really know what we’re going to do yet, but I know a lot of guys on this team are eager to go out there and make a difference one way or another.”

Robert Covington said many of the players were “kind of thrown off” when finding out what transpired. 

“Collectively, we talked about it, everybody expressed their emotions about it,” Covington said. “We know that we want to take steps about it. We just don’t know exactly what steps we want to take. We talked about a lot of different things. That’s one thing that, as a team, we’re very aware of now that the whole incident’s happened. It’s not something we’re going to look over. It’s just a matter of time.”

The Sixers have not set a timeline of when they will decide on a next step. Their next game is Saturday afternoon at home against the Hawks.