Maalik Wayns, Likely Sixers Backup Point Guard, Is Still Excited About Free Sneakers

Maalik Wayns, Likely Sixers Backup Point Guard, Is Still Excited About Free Sneakers

One of the more surprising players in the early goings of the Sixers' preseason slate has been former Villanova standout Maalik Wayns and his speedy brand of basketball. Wayns went undrafted this past June but the Sixers gave the local Roman Catholic product a shot to win a job this preseason and he appears to be well on his way to doing just that.

Following Wednesday night's team-high 19-point performance against the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers, Wayns appears to have solidified his spot as the team's backup point guard behind Jrue Holiday, as CSN's John Finger writes.

Wayns impressive play with the Sixers has been somewhat puzzling to many who watched him closely at Villanova.

"Nova's teams led by Wayns were the most frustrating of the last 10 years," said friend of the Level and Villanova alum Carl P.

"Wayns was plagued by bad shot selection, sloppy turnovers, and terrible passing (or no passing at all). If he's suddenly, mysteriously awesome, it's on Jay Wright."

An interesting theory. Or perhaps a credit to Doug Collins? Or maybe an example of a player who is that much better when surrounded by NBA-caliber talent.

Regardless of his past, Wayns appears poised to get some backup minutes this season and they'll likely be filled with exciting bursts of speed (and turnovers, natch).

The undrafted player appears to have won himself an NBA job. But he's still excited about the free sneakers.

From Finger's story on Wayns appearing to have solidify the backup PG role:

This week, Wayns signed a deal with Reebok to exclusively wear the company’s brand on the court. For a Philly kid who grew up following Allen Iverson, Wayns has been wearing Reebok since he was a child.

“I grew up watching Iverson, so that’s a big thing for me,” Wayns said. “I get to wear Reebok sneakers and get everything free from a shoe company, so that’s pretty cool.”

Free stuff is always cool. Even when you're an NBA player.

Sixers take lasting lessons from talk with Will Smith at team dinner

Sixers take lasting lessons from talk with Will Smith at team dinner

GALLOWAY, N.J. — The sprawling city skyline could have been the highlight of the Sixers' team dinner at One Liberty Place on Monday night. Instead, it was a surprise celebrity appearance that left them in awe.

Will Smith, who is part of the Sixers’ ownership, caught the players off guard when he visited with the team to offer advice and answer questions.

“Man, that’s one of my idols,” Nerlens Noel said following the first training camp session at Stockton University. “Everything he said I really took in and all the guys did too.”

Rather than entertaining the group with his acting or musical skills, Smith imparted important lessons that are applicable in sports. The 48-year-old has had decades of success across multiple platforms, and he offered pieces of wisdom that can resonate in any situation. 

“If you have bad people around you, that’s how people see you and that’s how you are,” Joel Embiid said. “He said to have good people around. That’s the main thing I got from that.”

The Sixers had differing memorable moments the morning after Smith’s visit, which demonstrated how many topics he addressed with the team. 

“He’s a good guy,” Ben Simmons said. “I definitely learned a lot from hearing him talk … You’ve got to look at things from a positive and negative with every situation.”

Jahlil Okafor was especially caught up in Smith’s appearance. Smith is Okafor’s favorite actor, most notably for his role in I Am Legend, and impressed Okafor with his character. 

“We already know about his accolades and how smart he is and obviously he’s an entertaining person,” Okafor said. “But it just seemed like he really wanted to be there to help us out. I just took away that he was a great person.”

Okafor also added, “It just helps [to hear from him] because the road to success is pretty much the same. It’s about being focused, it’s about knowing that you’re going to be knocked down, you’re going to fail. That was one of the messages that Will Smith shared, was expect failure but the main thing is to get back up.”

Noel previously had seen Smith courtside at Sixers games, and this was his first opportunity to hear directly from him. Noel listened to everything Smith had to say, from how to deal with the media to ranking his best and worst movies. 

“Never get caught up in too much of the negativity,” Noel recounted. 

While people view professional athletes as celebrities, the Sixers were on the opposite side Monday evening. 

“It’s hard to get starstruck nowadays,” Noel said. “But when you see Will Smith, it’s a whole different ballgame.”

Tonight's lineup: With only RHPs left, could Ryan Howard start every game?

Tonight's lineup: With only RHPs left, could Ryan Howard start every game?

If healthy, Ryan Howard is expected to start all three games in the Phillies' final series of the season Sept. 2-4 at home against the Mets.

He might also start the entire Braves series.

The Phillies' final six games are all against right-handed starting pitchers: Julio Teheran, Mike Foltynewicz and Josh Collmenter in Atlanta; Robert Gsellman, Bartolo Colon and Noah Syndergaard with the Mets. That could mean six starts for Howard before his time with the Phillies expires.

Howard's batting average has been below .200 for practically the entire season, but he's been much better since the All-Star break, hitting .259/.325/.598 with 11 homers, five doubles and 25 RBIs in 123 plate appearances (see game notes). He went 0 for 6 in his last two starts but homered in each of his two previous starts to reach 23 for the third year in a row.

Here's the Phillies' full lineup Tuesday against Teheran:

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Roman Quinn, LF
3. Odubel Herrera, CF
4. Maikel Franco, 3B
5. Ryan Howard, 1B
6. Cameron Rupp, C
7. Freddy Galvis, SS
8. Aaron Altherr, RF
9. Jerad Eickhoff, P

Matt Kemp is out of the Braves' lineup.

1. Ender Inciarte, CF
2. Adonis Garcia, 3B
3. Freddie Freeman, 1B
4. Nick Markakis, RF
5. Tyler Flowers, C
6. Jace Peterson, 2B
7. Dansby Swanson, SS
8. Mallex Smith, LF
9. Julio Teheran, P

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