Casper Ware out to prove himself all over again

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Casper Ware out to prove himself all over again

With just four days of practice before diving into a full summer league slate of games, there isn’t much time to install an offense -- let alone practice it.

Nevertheless, the Sixers could have an advantage when the action in the Orlando Pro Summer League tips off this Saturday. Not only will the Sixers have talented big man Nerlens Noel patrolling the paint, and wingman Hollis Thompson back from appearing in 77 games for the team last season, but also Casper Ware will be back.

Remember Casper Ware?

Though the Sixers had something of a revolving door of players coming and going on 10-day contracts, Ware was one of the few who stuck around. He appeared in just nine games and averaged 5.3 points in nearly 13 minutes per game, but Ware impressed the Sixers’ brass enough to earn a second 10-day contract and an invitation to hang around and work out at the team’s training space.

Despite the residency, of sorts, in the Sixers’ practice gym, Ware knows he constantly has to prove himself to the coaches and executives.

“It’s been important just to get some of that NBA experience and to work on my game,” Ware said about working out with the Sixers for the past four months. “Plus, it helps you develop your game and get to know the coaches on a personal level.

“I have to show that I can contribute to the team, shoot and be a pest on defense -- be the energy guy coming off the bench.”

Though he’s just 5-foot-10 with a scorer’s mentality, Ware is hoping the work leads to a job with the team next season.

“Casper has been great,” summer league head coach Lloyd Pierce said. “As a coach in summer league, the one thing you want is a point guard who knows your offense. For him to be here for three or four months, he’s helped me out and he’s going to help the rest of the players that are coming into the gym for the first time to get organized. He’s been great. He’s made shots, he’s in great shape and he knows our sets.”

Ware will have his work cut out for him, though. The Sixers also have second-round pick Pierre Jackson on the roster, who is another scoring point guard. The difference is while Ware averaged 11.7 points per game playing in the Italian League, Jackson set scoring marks playing in the NBA Developmental League.

Moreover, Jackson is also just 5-foot-10. Would the Sixers open the NBA season with two scoring point guard under six-feet tall?

Though Ware has spent time with the Sixers during the NBA season, he went undrafted out of Long Beach State in 2012.

“I don’t know if there is anything he needs to do that’s different than any other guy,” Pierce said about Ware. “He’s going to work and be a better shooter and to give us a spark as a point guard backing up Michael [Carter-Williams]. He’s going to work to be able to guard other point guards in the league, especially second-team point guards.

“What he’s doing now is what we’re going to ask of him -- stay in the gym and work, provide energy, get in the paint, provide opportunities for other guys. It’s the same stuff he does, we’re just going to ask him to do it better.”

Summer league II
With the Orlando summer league to begin this weekend, the Sixers are piecing together a roster for the Las Vegas summer league that runs from July 11 to 21.

A league source confirmed second-rounders K.J. McDaniels, Jordan McRae and 2013 second-round pick Arsalan Kazemi from Iran will join the Sixers’ team. So too will Tim Frazier, a four-year player from Penn State. Additionally, Noel will be on the roster for the Las Vegas league as well as Orlando.

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."