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

Dario Saric halts slump with 'best game as a 76er'

Dario Saric halts slump with 'best game as a 76er'

Dario Saric came into the NBA knowing his rookie season would be one of ups and downs. He would have successes based on his talent and struggle because of the newness of the league and matchups.

Saturday’s performance against the Celtics was one of those highlight nights. Saric scored 21 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, both tying career-highs, for his third double-double. He was efficient in his performance, playing 27 minutes off the bench in the Sixers' 107-106 loss.

“I thought that was his best game as a 76er,” Brett Brown said.

Saric had struggled the night before against the Magic. He barely made a dent in 16 minutes, posting just two points (1 for 5 from the field) without a single rebound. The poor showing was on his mind Saturday, as he got ready for the second game of the back-to-back. He went in early to get up extra shots, met with coaches, studied film and thought about the matchup throughout the day.

“I prepared a little bit more for this game,” Saric said. “After I have some bad rhythm of five or six, maybe, games. Now I concentrate more. I try to give my best, try to play my best, try to think before everything happens.”

Saric showed his aggressiveness in crunch time in the fourth quarter, when he scored seven points and five rebounds in eight minutes. He nailed a three to cut the Celtics' lead to 92-91 with 4:28 to play. Then with 1:09 remaining, Saric’s free throws cut the Celtics' lead to two points. On the other end of the court, he snagged the rebound off an Isaiah Thomas miss and scored a game-tying layup from Jahlil Okafor.  

“He played great,” Okafor said. “He’s working hard every day, getting used to the NBA process. It was good to see hard work paying off for him.”

Saric has been adjusting to new roles throughout the season. He was thrown into the starting power forward spot when Ben Simmons was injured, and then moved to the bench when the team acquired Ersan Ilyasova. On Saturday, Brown also played Saric at small forward in Robert Covington’s (knee) absence, a shift the Sixers may try again.

“He’s a good teammate,” Brown said. “He’s biding his time. He understands he’s a rookie. Incrementally, he’ll be given these opportunities. Tonight he did and he responded and you’re seeing continued growth.”

Saric still is early in his NBA career, and Saturday's showing was a game he can look back on and study for the rest of the season. 

“I feel like tonight … you’d walk away and say, ‘Shoot, that’s a hell of a player for playing 20 games in the NBA and he did what he just did against a hell of a team,’” Brown said. “I’m proud of what we saw all over the place from Dario.”

Sixers' '66-'67 team reflects on success of 'best team ever'

Sixers' '66-'67 team reflects on success of 'best team ever'

As part of their “Salute Saturday” series, the Sixers honored the 1966-67 championship team at halftime of their 107-106 loss the Celtics on Saturday.

Fifty years after winning the title, the success of the squad (which went 68-13 in the regular season) still resonates with those representing the Sixers today. After all, they are the group Wilt Chamberlain described as “the best team ever.” 

“It’s just part of the history of this city and the organization,” said Brett Brown, who has established a relationship with Billy Cunningham through practice visits and emails. “There was a toughness with that team that he personified and the city sort of reflects. It’s stuff you hear me talk about all the time how you want our team to reflect the spirit of the city. That team did it.”

Prior to their tribute ceremony, members of the team reflected on their run in which they beat the San Francisco Warriors for the title. 

On Wilt Chamberlain
“Wilt was such a dominant figure, not only as a basketball player, but he’s almost bigger than the game,” Matt Goukas said. “He played so well, he was such a good team player – he started really passing the ball right around that time --and that enabled great scorers like Hal (Greer) and Billy and Chet Walker to do their thing, and Wilt was very happy to give them that leeway.”.

On fond memories
“It was a team that we played well together and we lived as a family and that’s what made it so good for us," Greer said. "A lot of fun, a lot of fun. We missed the next year, but 68-13 is not bad at all.”

“It’s hard to forget a situation like that where we had such a terrific team and the season went so quickly, we won so many games and then of course winning a championship,” Goukas said. “As a first year player I said, ‘This is the way it’s supposed to be, I guess.’ But of course I never won another championship as a player, but we had such a terrific group of guys and true professionals that for me as a rookie, Billy Melchionni as a rookie, we really benefited from guys like Hal Greer, Wally Jones and Harry Costello, they really showed us the way.”

On team chemistry
“It was very difficult times when you look at the sixties from a social aspect,” Cunningham said. “Martin Luther King was killed the following year we won the championship. Race relationships weren’t the best. And this time, which was just about half black-half white, I’m not even sure, it was never an issue. That’s the beauty I think of being on a team you know getting to know people, you judge them as an individual and nothing more than that.”

“I think it was our coach Alex Hannum, for one (that kept the team together),” Greer said. “And of course the big guy. He held us together most of the time, he could rebound, play defense, do it all.”