Young embraces veteran role for rebuilding Sixers

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Young embraces veteran role for rebuilding Sixers

Thaddeus Young was back in Philadelphia this week, lending a hand to the community as he has done for the past six years.

Young hosted a children's basketball camp at Girard College. He was present every morning before heading over to the Sixers’ practice facility to work out.

Like any person associated with the Sixers, Young has repeatedly been asked the same set of questions by friends and strangers alike throughout the summer:

“'Who’s the coach? Have you guys found a coach yet?'” Young repeated, smiling. 

He always responds with the same answer.

“No, but we have been interviewing people and going through the necessary process to find the right coach,” Young said.

That's as straightforward as it gets. However, the 25-year-old forward would not be completely in the wrong if he were to show some frustration with the Sixers' situation at head coach. After all, Young, who enters his seventh season in the league as the longest-tenured Sixer on the roster, has seen his share of new faces holding a clipboard during games.

“This will be my fifth coach. Maurice Cheeks, Tony DiLeo, Eddie Jordan, Doug Collins and then this person,” Young said. “That is a hard-fought six years. I am going into my seventh [season]. Hopefully, this next coach is here for a very long time like a Coach Popovich. Hopefully, we can have some longevity and I can continue to be a part of the Sixers.”

Young ran into Michael Curry during one of his trips to PCOM. Similar to how people have had questions for Young, he had one of his own for the man who served as the Sixers' associate head coach under Doug Collins.

“I walked in and said, 'Are they going to give you the job or what?” Young recounted. “He said he didn’t know but that he was going to continue to do his job, 'do what I need to do to help you guys get better.’

Curry has continued to do just that, even coaching the Sixers' summer league team in Orlando.

Young believes that work ethic and a familiarity with the team makes Curry a nice replacement for Collins.

"I think he would be the perfect man for the job. He already knows the players and he knows what we need and what we need structure-wise to win games," Young said. "And he is great defensively. He is a great candidate for the job and I for sure would love to see him as a coach. But that is Sam’s (Hinkie) job. To go out there and basically find the best coach, the best person for the job.”

Hinkie has been the Sixers' president and general manager since mid-May. He made his first splash on draft night when he traded All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday to New Orleans for Nerlens Noel and a protected first-round draft pick in 2014.

“My first tweet was ‘Wow,’” Young said. “I talked to Jrue, because at the time he was preparing for his wedding, but he said he was actually house shopping at the time he found out he was moved. I said, ‘Are you serious?’ And he said, ‘Yep.’ It was one of those situations where it snuck up on all of us. It is the nature of the business and we just have to keep ourselves prepared for any given day.”

Young does not worry about his own stability with the team that drafted him in 2007 despite having the highest salary on the current roster. He is owed nearly $27.5 million for the next three seasons and is playing for an organization that is looking to be in a great salary cap position in the future to attract high-profile free agents.

“Anybody can be traded in the NBA,” Young said. “Any given day, someone can get traded and have to move to the next city. This is the NBA. It is the life we live in and the job we chose.

"I don’t have any worries about getting traded. If I get traded, it was a business decision, a move that had to be made. If I am not, then you know what you are going to get out of me. I am going to be here each and every day, 24/7, ready to go hard for my team.”

That team Young is prepared to go to battle for is unquestionably in rebuilding mode. The Sixers will likely start a rookie point guard in Michael Carter-Williams and Noel is still months away from being ready for game action after undergoing surgery in February to repair a torn ACL.

Young understands the Sixers' outlook for next season and that bleak times could be ahead. He is also prepared for the emotions that come along with a rebuilding franchise and is prepared to help the younger players that might not exactly know how to handle the situation.

“It is the toughest ever,” Young said. “The first text message I sent to MCW was ‘The ball is going to be in your hands with you being the point guard and floor general. You are going to take the blame for a lot of stuff. I am going to try and help you. I’ll say it was my fault because that is what veterans do.'

"They try and keep the young guys’ bad thoughts out of their head. You say it was my fault and then go to them and say, 'Try and do it this way and that will be the right way.’ I am going to try and help him as much as possible.”

Currently, Young, who averaged 14.8 points and a career-high 7.5 rebounds last season, is in the gym in the attempt to improve his own game. The lefty is sharpening his three-point shooting and ball-handling skills because, despite not having a coach, he has been told what style of play the Sixers plan on implementing in the future.

“My understanding is we want to be a running team that is going to put up a lot of shots and try and get out in transition and do many different things with the basketball,” Young said. “So I have really been working on my ball-handling and my shooting.”

Brett Brown wants Sixers to focus on turnovers, transition defense in next 10 games

Brett Brown wants Sixers to focus on turnovers, transition defense in next 10 games

NEW ORLEANS — The Sixers take a pause after each set of 10 games over the course of the 82-game season to identify areas they want to improve in the next increment.
 
They are now 22 games into the season and two into the current grouping. Brett Brown has targeted two aspects, one on each end of the floor, to hone in on: turnovers and transition defense.
 
“Our turnovers continue to haunt us and we can’t let it go,” Brown said earlier this week. 
 
Turnover problems are nothing new to the Sixers. As a young team, they struggled heavily last season and ranked 29th with 16.4 per game. This season the number is higher. The Sixers currently are at the bottom of the NBA with 17.3 turnovers per game.*
 
They are running into problems late in games. The Sixers average 3.6 turnovers in the first quarter (tied for 22nd with the Clippers) compared to 5.0 in the fourth (also 30th in the NBA for that quarter). 
 
Brown frequently highlights points allowed off turnovers when assessing a loss. The Sixers are tied with the Timberwolves for 25th with 18.2 points in that category.

Rather than just looking at turnovers as a whole, Brown is delving into the who’s and why’s of the problem. Joel Embiid leads the team with 3.7 turnovers per game. The Sixers look to him as the focal point of the offense. As a rookie, he is adjusting to NBA defenses, especially double teams, while being the go-to at the basket. 

Sergio Rodriguez is behind Embiid with 2.7, not counting Jerryd Bayless (3.0) who only has played three games. Rodriguez has said he “takes risks” at the point but is trying to be more secure with the ball in his hand (see story)

“We’ve got repetitive examples of people either too much in a crowd,” Brown said. “Examples of people not handling pick and rolls when they come out and hedge. Post players dribbling too much and not reacting to double teams and to pass outs.”
 
On the opposite end of the court, the Sixers are last in the league with 18.5 fast break points scored by opponents. Their defense fluctuates when Embiid is on the sideline, based on his 28-minute restriction. However Brown does not want the rest of the team to lapse without their big man. Brown has been emphasizing the need for pace and has been stressing all season the importance of career-best fitness to get up and down the floor.

“We still don’t get back the way I want to in transition defense,” Brown said. “We do see differences in our defense dramatically when Joel is in the game or not. But it still doesn’t camouflage the fact that we have to get back on defense.”

The Sixers will have to tackle these issues in a 10-game period in which they are shorthanded with a slew of injuries and illnesses. 

"The good thing is, we’ve selected two things that have hurt us and we need to claim them again," Brown said. 

*All stats according to NBA.com

Best of NBA: Magic overcome Wall's 52 points to beat Wizards

Best of NBA: Magic overcome Wall's 52 points to beat Wizards

WASHINGTON -- Elfrid Payton scored 22 of his season-high 25 points in the first half and the Orlando Magic overcame John Wall's 52-point performance to beat the Washington Wizards, 124-116 on Tuesday night.

Wall had the highest-scoring game of his career and kept Washington in it with 33 points in the second half as the Wizards cut the lead below 10 in the fourth quarter. The guard made 18 of 31 from the field and added eight assists.

Payton went 8 for 8 from the field and 3 for 3 from the line off the bench in that first half, nearly matching his previous season best of 23 points in the first two quarters alone. Payton finished 9 for 12 and handed out nine assists.

Orlando won its third straight game and its 124 points were a season high (see full recap).

Spurs trounce Timberwolves to reach 13-0 on the road
MINNEAPOLIS -- Kawhi Leonard scored 31 points and the San Antonio Spurs improved to 13-0 on the road this season with a 105-91 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday night.

Leonard hit 11 of 15 shots after not scoring at all in the first quarter and Patty Mills scored 15 points off the bench for the Spurs (18-4), who played without Tony Parker after he bruised his left knee against Milwaukee on Wednesday night. San Antonio overcame a slow start to shoot 52.7 percent.

The Spurs moved past the 1969-70 New York Knicks to take sole possession of the second-best road start to begin a season in NBA history. The Golden State Warriors started 14-0 last year.

Zach LaVine scored 25 points for the Timberwolves. Karl-Anthony Towns had 11 points and 14 rebounds, but shot just 3 of 16 (see full recap).

Anthony, Knicks blow past depleted Heat
MIAMI -- Carmelo Anthony matched a season high with 35 points, and the New York Knicks beat the injury-ravaged Miami Heat 114-103 on Tuesday night.

Kristaps Porzingis had 14 points and 12 rebounds for New York, which is three games over .500 for the first time since the end of the 2012-13 season. The Knicks lost Derrick Rose to back spasms in the third quarter.

Goran Dragic scored 29 points and Hassan Whiteside finished with 23 points and 14 rebounds for the Heat, who fell to 2-8 at home.

The teams were tied at 68 late in the third quarter, when the Knicks went on a 27-13 run over the next eight minutes to take control. Anthony finished 13 for 27 from the field, and Porzingis and Joakim Noah combined for 22 rebounds (see full recap).