Temple's Allen headlines 'big' workout with Sixers

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Temple's Allen headlines 'big' workout with Sixers

Saturday, June 4, 2011
Posted: 5:12 p.m.

By John R. Finger
CSNPhilly.com

As its turned out, the Philadelphia 76ers havent had the easiest time getting potential draft picks to show up and work out for them. Its nothing personal, mind you. Certainly guys like Doug Collins and the Sixers personnel of Ed Stefanski, Rod Thorn and Courtney Witte are well-respected around the league.

Its just that there are a lot of teams with picks ahead of the Sixers in the June 24 draft.

Its amazing. Im not a mathematics major but right now there are about 20-plus people who think they are going in the top 15, said Witte, the Sixers director of scouting. Theres not a lot of separation, so that lends itself to a lot of people thinking they are going to go in front of us.

Of course, its still early. As draft day approaches, there surely will be a better gauge of what lies ahead for some of the prospects and some will be more interested in working out for a bunch of teams, including the Sixers. Until then, however, the Sixers worked out a bunch of players labeled as second-round types on Saturday morning at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.

The biggest names there were Lavoy Allen from Pennsbury High and Temple University, and Rick Jackson from Neumann-Goretti High in South Philly and Syracuse. They were joined in the workout by Delvon Johnson from Arkansas, Vernon Macklin from Florida, Greg Smith from Fresno State, and Croatian Tomislav Zubcic.

We were very impressed, Witte said of Saturdays workout.

The players ranged in height from 6-foot-9 (Allen and Jackson) to 6-10 (Macklin and Smith) to 6-foot-11 (Zubcic), further lending substance to the notion that the Sixers are looking for a defensive-minded big man to play on the low block. Pushing that idea even a little more is the fact that the team will work out five more big men at PCOM on Monday morning, including Villanovas Antonio Pena.

Sure, the Sixers might grab the best athlete available when their turn comes up at pick No. 16, and chances are that guy hasnt yet worked out for the club, but typically things dont happen by accident. The Sixers need a big guy and so far they have only worked out players who play in the paint.

Coincidence? Probably not.

I dont want to characterize them as second-round picks. The guys we had out here Saturday all have similar games, Witte said. But each one of them has different elements they are better at, so its interesting to see them in a different environment like we did today.

In addition to the No. 16 pick, the Sixers also select again at No. 50 in the second round. Based on history at those particular draft spots the team likely wont find the answer needed to solidify the frontcourt. After all, the Sixers drafted Marreese Speights at No. 16 three years ago and got the No. 16 pick in Rodney Carney on draft day in 2006.

Over the past decade, the Sixers also used the No. 16 pick to get Jiri Welsch and immediately packaged him in a three-team trade that brought back Derrick Coleman on draft day in 2002. Welsch lasted all of eight games in his NBA career.

Still, there have been a few gems mined out of the 16th spot. Recently, the Wizards got Nick Young in 2007 and Hedo Turkoglu was a No. 16 pick in 2000. The year before, Ron Artest was available midway through the first round, while in 1984, John Stockton was taken by Utah at 16.

For now, though, the No. 16 still looks like a crapshoot.

There are some quality players, Witte said about this years crop of talent. I think you can get quality players as you go down the draft.

Nevertheless, local kids Allen and Jackson were two of the players Witte and the Sixers have seen a lot through the years. Allen, of course, played alongside of T.J. DiLeo, the son of former Sixers coach and current senior vice president and assistant general manager. By that fact the Sixers management may have seen Allen play a lot simply by default.

Even still, there is a lot to like about Allens game. He finished his career as the all-time leading rebounder in Temple history and was the first Owl to average a double-double in a season since Ollie Johnson in 1970-71. He briefly flirted with entering the draft last year, but after a workout with Portland Allen was told to go back to school and work on his offensive game.

Certainly that advice and some time spent last summer with the national mens team opened his eyes a bit.

Teams are definitely looking for guys who can play in the post, but are also versatile, Allen said. I try to work on all parts of my game and not just one more than others and be consistent with all my workouts.

That means extra workouts, too. Allen watched what some NBA players did last summer and the work ethic needed to play in the league was what resonated. In the meantime, Allen has worked out with the Thunder, Spurs and Celtics in addition to the Sixers. Hes going to go work out for the Nets, Lakers, Hawks and Knicks before the draft rolls around.

Im just going to the workouts and competing, Allen said. All the teams have seen us all four years so its a matter of going out and playing hard against all the guys they bring in.

That part of it has been pretty fun, but Allen might understand why so many guys are reluctant to travel to Philadelphia to work out for the Sixers.

Its definitely been fun. The only problem is when I travel my planes are usually delayed or canceled. Ive had a lot of problems with fights. Besides that the workouts have been fun and Ive been having fun out there.

Dont worry kid ... in the league they fly charter.
Email John Finger at jfinger@comcastsportsnet.com or follow him on Twitter @jrfinger

Related: Sixers must weigh talent, need, experience in draft Syracuse's Jackson hoping to stay in Philly

Ben Simmons spending his summer getting bigger and better

Ben Simmons spending his summer getting bigger and better

Ben Simmons repeatedly emphasized at summer league he wanted to work on “everything” leading up to training camp.

As a point-forward who plays multiple positions, he has more than just one role to address this offseason. But what does “everything” entail? With a wide range of responsibilities on the court, Simmons is honing in on specific areas.

“I think just getting in the gym and making sure I’m getting reps up, shooting-wise, dribbling,” Simmons said earlier this week after an appearance at Sixers Camp in Wayne, Pennsylvania. “The weight room as well, making sure I get my strength back and my weight up.”

Shooting
Simmons has been criticized for his reluctance to shoot. During his one season of college ball at LSU, he averaged 19.2 points off 11.7 field goal attempts per game (56 percent made). Over six summer league games (including both Utah and Las Vegas), Simmons took 22 field-goal attempts and shot 32.2 percent. He had less than 10 attempts in four of the games, and attempted 15 in the Sixers’ finale. Simmons attempted one three in summer league action.

While in Utah and Las Vegas, the Sixers encouraged Simmons to be more aggressive. At 6-foot-10, Simmons is able to get to the rim. Once there, many times he passes it off rather than finishing himself. The Sixers don’t expect Simmons to become a 30-point-per-game scorer, but he will be a key part of their offense.

“You always want him to be as good of a shooter as he can be,” Las Vegas summer league head coach Lloyd Pierce said this earlier month. “It’s not going to be his strength. His strength is going to be passing, facilitating, playmaking. That’s going to be an added bonus, whatever the percentage or the number is.”

Dribbling
Simmons averaged 5.5 assists per game during summer league (second on the team by 0.3 dimes to T.J McConnell). Conversely, he committed 3.8 turnovers.

The Sixers signed two point guards this summer, Jerryd Bayless and Sergio Rodriguez, and McConnell is returning from last season. Head coach Brett Brown said after the draft he does not plan to utilize Simmons as the primary one-guard right away as the 20-year-old learns the league. But early on, Simmons will have the rock in his hands plenty of times given his natural ball-handling abilities, especially when grabbing the rebound and running the fast break.

"I think it's the hardest position to play in the NBA,” Brown previously said. “I think to just give him the ball in that capacity is borderline cruel. He needs to feel NBA basketball. And maybe he evolves there."

Weight room
After college, Simmons put on 20 pounds from his training and entered the draft at 242 pounds. He stood out among the competition in summer league play with his NBA-ready stature. Simmons said he would like to get up to 246 or 247 pounds this offseason.

“Not too heavy,” he said.

With the size of a forward and the skills of a guard, the Sixers will be able to utilize Simmons to create mismatches both in the backcourt and at the hoop.

Adjusting to new home, Ben Simmons plays role model at Sixers Camp

Adjusting to new home, Ben Simmons plays role model at Sixers Camp

WAYNE, Pa. — Three steps. 

That’s all it takes before Ben Simmons is recognized walking through the streets of Philadelphia. 

This year’s No. 1 pick has been in the spotlight long before the Sixers drafted him in June, and now he's experiencing what it's like to be known as an NBA player in his new city. 

“I’ve been enjoying walking around South Street, getting some Ishkabibble's,” Simmons said Tuesday after a special appearance at the Sixers' Camp at Valley Forge Military Academy. 

At 6-foot-10, Simmons towers above most on the court, let alone on the sidewalk. Fans have been eager to welcome him to Philadelphia for a new chapter of the organization after three years of struggle. 

“Positive things,” Simmons said of the comments he receives. “I think a lot of people are excited, so I’ve been looking forward to it.”

Simmons understands the impact a professional athlete can have on young fans, and was excited to be at camp Tuesday.

Growing up in Australia, he never had the opportunity to hear from NBA players when he attended basketball camps. Now that he's in that position, the 20-year-old was glad to provide that memory to the 240 campers. 

“That would mean a lot if I was able to experience that,” Simmons said. 

Simmons demonstrated skill drills, such as passing fundamentals, interacted in a Q&A session and signed autographs for each camper. He also took individual photos for those who traveled internationally, including from Nigeria, Italy and Greece. 

“I’m just like them, but older,” Simmons said. “I’m just trying to be a good role model to them.”

Simmons plans to spend most of the offseason in Philadelphia as he gets settled into the city. He still has to move into his new home, but at least he knows where to get a cheesesteak in the meantime. 

NBA Notes: Dion Waiters signs 1-year deal with Heat

NBA Notes: Dion Waiters signs 1-year deal with Heat

Two people with knowledge of the situation tell The Associated Press that the Miami Heat have agreed to terms on a one-year deal with free agent guard Dion Waiters.

The two sides came to agreement on Monday. Waiters will make $2.9 million. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because the team has not announced the deal.

Waiters averaged 9.8 points for the Oklahoma City Thunder last year, but had several big games in the playoffs. He played particularly well against Dallas and San Antonio in the playoffs before his role was reduced in the seven-game loss to the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference finals.

Waiters will give the Heat another scorer off the bench (see full story).

Blazers: C.J. McCullom inked to four-year extension
PORTLAND, Ore. -- A person familiar with the deal confirms that guard CJ McCollum has agreed to a four-year, $106 million contract extension with the Portland Trail Blazers.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity on Monday because the deal hadn't been formally announced by the team. It was first reported by Yahoo Sports.

McCollum, who was named the NBA's Most Improved Player, averaged 20.8 points, 3.2 rebounds and 4.3 assists for the Blazers during the regular season. He raised his scoring average by more than 14 points over the previous season.

As the 10th overall pick for the Blazers in the 2013 draft, McCollum bided his time on the bench for his first two seasons. He became a starter in the backcourt with Damian Lillard last season after four of the team's starters departed in the offseason (see full story).

Michael Jordan donates $2 million to ease racial tensions
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Michael Jordan is trying to help ease tension between African-Americans and law enforcement.

The NBA great and Charlotte Hornets owner said Monday he's giving $1 million to the Institute for Community-Police Relations and $1 million to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. The aim is to help build trust following several shootings around the country.

Jordan says in a statement to The Associated Press on Monday that "as a proud American, a father who lost his own dad in a senseless act of violence, and a black man, I have been deeply troubled by the deaths of African-Americans at the hands of law enforcement and angered by the cowardly and hateful targeting and killing of police officers," (see full story).