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

Brett Brown has 'completely different feeling' in training camp this year

Brett Brown has 'completely different feeling' in training camp this year

GALLOWAY, N.J. — Brett Brown left training camp last September with an unsettling feeling. He had just completed long days of scrimmages, drills and planning, and yet he sensed the Sixers were not ready to tackle the 82 games that lied ahead. 

“I remember driving back to Philadelphia last year knowing in my heart of heart that this group was going to be challenged,” Brown said Thursday following the morning practice session at Stockton University. “That was a frightening drive home. That drive home scared me because I felt like, I know what we have and how are we going to be able to maneuver through this?”

Brown was right. The Sixers lost their first 18 games and began the season 1-30. They stumbled the rest of the way, finishing the 2016-17 campaign with a dismal 10-72 record. 

“We really didn’t know who the point guard was,” Brown said. “We came in extremely injured, we were trying to make the Nerlens [Noel]-Jahlil [Okafor] thing work, there really weren’t a lot of veterans to look around [and see], and you knew it.”

Now in his fourth training camp as head coach, with 47 wins and 199 losses with the Sixers behind him, Brown has different emotions as the team nears the end of training camp on Friday. 

Instead of a constantly-changing lineup of players, the Sixers are building a roster that can serve as the foundation for the future. There are nine new players on the team, including first overall pick Ben Simmons and rookie Dario Saric. Joel Embiid will make his NBA debut after two years of injuries, and the Sixers added veteran leaders in free agency.

Brown has a clearer picture of what the team could look like this season and beyond. He is coaching training camp to enter a new chapter, not to simply make it through the upcoming months. 

“You can leave and you can sniff reality,” Brown said. “Now what I see is there’s depth. There are challenges positionally as we’ve talked about. But there’s talent. There’s point guards. They’re sprinkled in with some veterans. How we grow it and play it is still on the table. To me, it’s a completely different feeling that I have now that I did not have last year.”

The additions of Jerryd Bayless and Sergio Rodriguez at the one spot lessen the coaching load for Brown. He also can turn to T.J. McConnell from last season. The depth is a far cry from when the Sixers were quickly changing at that position and didn’t find a consistent starter until they traded for Ish Smith in late December.

“That position, I think, is vital when you start putting a bunch of 20-year-olds around it and trying to find some type of organization,” Brown said. “You just can’t replace a point guard’s intellect. You can’t replace, I think, somebody that has great command from that position. It certainly helps me.”

Brown expects to feel “proud” when the Sixers wrap training camp on Friday. He is looking forward to getting the season underway, beginning with two practices at the new training complex in Camden before their first preseason game Oct. 4 against the Celtics. 

Brown anticipates his drive home this time will be a much different trip. 

“I feel comfortable that we’re ticking boxes and we’re achieving the goals that we set out from the start of what we wanted to get done in Stockton,” he said.

The Sixers continued to monitor load management on Thursday, as Okafor, Embiid and Gerald Henderson did not participate in the morning scrimmage. Bayless also did not go through the scrimmage because of a sore left wrist. 

Nerlens Noel thinks he and Ben Simmons can be a lockdown defensive duo

Nerlens Noel thinks he and Ben Simmons can be a lockdown defensive duo

GALLOWAY, N.J. — The Sixers' abundance of big men lends itself to numerous combinations in the frontcourt.

On Thursday, Nerlens Noel had his first experience playing with Ben Simmons. The center gelled with the rookie forward.

"It's a great duo, I think," Noel said following the morning practice session of training camp at Stockton University.

Noel has been paired with many big men during his career with the Sixers. Last season, he faced the challenge of playing out of position at times with Jahlil Okafor. The logjam prompted him to speak out about the current makeup of the roster (see story).

After playing with Simmons, Noel saw how the two can share the court.

"I think we complement each other very well, especially on the defensive end," Noel said. "He's definitely a lockdown type defender that digs in."

Even though Simmons has yet to play an NBA game, Noel already envisions how he can help the Sixers.

"He just plays basketball the right way," Noel said. "When your big man does that, it makes it a lot easier because he is very versatile being a point-forward type. That opens up a lot of things for him to be able to open up for his teammates."