Tyreek Duren taking lessons from vet to Sixers

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Tyreek Duren taking lessons from vet to Sixers

There are only four players in the history of the Big 5 to score 1,500 points, dish out 450 assists and get 200 steals in their collegiate careers.

Of that four, Jameer Nelson, the former St. Joe’s star and 10-year veteran with Orlando and Tyreek Duren from La Salle, work out together. Moreover, both players are hoping to land with a new team in the NBA sometime soon.

Nelson, of course, should have little problem latching on with a team. Testing the free-agent waters for the first time in his NBA career, the former All-Star and rock steady point guard has drawn the interest of New Orleans, Brooklyn, Detroit, Miami and New York.

Duren, on the other hand, is looking for opportunities. Not selected in last month’s NBA draft, Duren, a four-year starter at La Salle and star with Neumann-Goretti in South Philly, will play for the Sixers in the Las Vegas Summer League.

“It’s a great opportunity and I’m trying to make the best of it,” Duren said. “It’s big to be here. Growing up I looked up to a lot of the Sixers like [Allen Iverson] and then to be in this gym, it’s kind of unbelievable.”

A 6-foot point guard, Duren may have to be very impressive to grab a spot with the Sixers. After all, the team has reigning Rookie of the Year, Michael Carter-Williams, at point guard, along with third-year player Tony Wroten. Plus, 5-foot-10 point guard Casper Ware performed well with two 10-day contracts at the end of last season and has stood out on defense in Orlando.

Where Duren may stand out is with his three-point shooting. At La Salle he shot 40.8 percent from deep in his senior year and went 105 for 264 (39.8 percent) in 65 games over his last two seasons.

Defense could be Duren’s ticket, though. Averaging nearly two steals per game at La Salle, Duren’s quickness will help him during the next two weeks with the Sixers. If Duren can stand out in the team’s up-tempo style, he has a chance.

And that’s where the workouts with Nelson come in. If there is one thing Duren has learned from the NBA vet, it’s there are no easy days. Every play matters, Duren said.

“Just the work ethic and how NBA players take everything serious,” Duren said of the lessons learned from Nelson. “Every rep, every drill you just have to max out.”

There’s more, too. At 6-foot and a bit under 200 pounds, Duren will be going up against a lot of bigger point guards.

“The main thing with him and the biggest difference in the both of us is that he’s a lot leaner than me,” Duren said. “He’s very muscular and that’s one thing I want to pick up -- I want to get my body right.”

Otherwise, Duren says he and Nelson have “completely different games.” Except for the fact that Duren, Nelson, Scottie Reynolds and Doug Overton are the only Big 5 players to get 1,500 points, 450 assists and 200 steals in their collegiate careers.

NBA power rankings: Sixers can't escape the lower third

NBA power rankings: Sixers can't escape the lower third

With the NBA's glorified exhibition in the rearview mirror, we reenter reality of the remaining NBA season. The Sixers still are looking for suitors for Jahlil Okafor while questions swirl around about the health of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. 

Some claim they are tanking still, and if those people are talking about the recent NBA power rankings then they would be right. 

Games before the All-Star break
Last Monday and Wednesday the Sixers split their two games before the break, beating the Hornets and losing to the Celtics. 

Dario Saric continues to be the Sixers' most productive player in the absence of Embiid. In the short week, he averaged 19 points (a team leader in that category both games) and 11 rebounds. 

T.J. McConnell continues to control the floor at the point, dishing out seven assists against the Hornets and eight against the Celtics. 

An inability to finish has been the story for the Sixers without Embiid. The Sixers led by one at the half against the Hornets and were tied with the Celtics at the midway point. These are good signs, but these guys are far from being contenders in the east. The experts agree. 

What's next
Only two games this week for the 76ers: Friday at home against the Wizards (7 p.m./CSN) and on the road on Sunday to play the Knicks (7:30 p.m./CSN).

What the experts say
ESPN’s Marc Stein had some fun with his rankings this week using tweets and memes to describe a team’s current situation. The Sixers dropped from 20 to 23 in his rankings — not a significant drop but a drop nonetheless. 

He used this one in his evaluation of the Sixers:

NBA.com’s John Schuhmann bumped the Sixers up from 22 to 21 this week. He sees great improvement in Saric’s game stating: “Saric has already shown a lot of improvement and TLC, with his length on the perimeter, could prove to be a great fit next to the other core pieces if he can knock down shots.”

He added a positive thought on the Demarcus Cousins trade and how the Sixers still made out well even though they were not able to ship Okafor to the Pelicans. 

“The Sixers lost a potential trading partner with the DeMarcus Cousins trade to New Orleans, but still came out a winner in the deal, because they can swap first round picks with the Kings this year and own Sacramento's pick (with no protections) in 2019.”

Bleacher Report’s Grant Hughes did not move the 76ers from the 21 spot on his list last week. He writes that he is intrigued with this processing team: “Sorry, but I'm never going to stop being delighted by the Sixers finding ways to win.”

He made his prediction for games won by the Sixers if they get Embiid back on the court: “It's hard to know what Simmons might bring, but Embiid's contributions are well understood. If he makes it back and looks healthy, Philly could easily win 30-plus games.”

Finally, Fox Sports’ Andrew Lynch dropped the Sixers from 27 to 28 – yikes! His outlook is very pessimistic as he looks exclusively at the injuries of Embiid and Simmons. He writes that a complete shutdown of Simmons would make sense as the season’s end gets closer by the day. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Give and Go: Do Joel Embiid's injuries limit his ceiling?

Give and Go: Do Joel Embiid's injuries limit his ceiling?

With the team at the All-Star break, our resident basketball analysts will discuss some of the hottest topics involving the Sixers.

Running the Give and Go are CSNPhilly.com producer/reporters Matt Haughton and Paul Hudrick.

In this edition, we describe Joel Embiid's rookie season.

Haughton
There are so many different ways to go when describing Joel Embiid's long-awaited rookie season.

The numbers say dominant. Embiid leads all rookies in points (20.2), rebounds (7.8) and blocks (2.4) per game. He's also second in field goal percentage (46.6) among first-year players.

Of course, the injury situation — and handling of it by the team — has made Embiid's first season a bit frustrating. After waiting two seasons for the center to overcome foot injuries, you can understand the team's cautious approach. However, the almost random playing patterns at times and the near radio silence on his medical status has left a bad taste.

Still, overall I would say Embiid's rookie campaign has been refreshing for the franchise. Following three straight seasons of absolute abysmal basketball, the Sixers finally appear to have a real building block. 

Not only that, but Embiid also gives them a charismatic personality that is filling up the Wells Fargo Center again and being recognized on a national stage. You can't ask for much more after what the organization endured in recent years.

Hudrick
Describing Embiid's season depends on which perspective you're looking at it from. 

When he's been on the court, it's been unbelievable. He's a 22-year-old Cameroonian who's only been playing the game of basketball for a few years. He also didn't play for two years after two foot surgeries. Even with all that, he's been the most exciting basketball player this city has seen since Allen Iverson.

From a statistical standpoint, his numbers align with some of the greatest rookie big men of all time. While mentioning Embiid and Hakeem Olajuwon in the same breath may be premature, it's an indication of just how spectacular he has been. Their rookie seasons actually compare favorably.

Of course, the injuries are concerning. Will he ever be a full-time player? Embiid recently expressed his interest in playing back-to-back games. The organization won't give him the opportunity this year and I'm not sure how many opportunities they'll give him in the future. 

With that said, Embiid can still make an impact in 60-something games a season. When he's on the court, he can be one of the most dominant players in the league. When healthy, Embiid is the most exciting athlete in Philadelphia.