No Markelle Fultz videos today, since he was finished training by the time media was allowed into the gym.
We did get an update from Brett Brown, who says the rookie guard is coming along nicely.
“He didn’t go through the full practice today, but he went through the large majority of it,” Brown said. “Anything that had transition defense, or play calls, or slides, or passing drills – he went through the whole thing, in relation to, he had the ability to do whatever I wanted. He didn’t go through the entire practice, but he was available to do a very large majority of it.
“He played five-on-five and got up and down the court in a more detailed, lengthy way. I think that’s the thing that stands out the most, that he was more available to do things that he had been less available to do in the past.”
That included full contact, according to Brown, who says Fultz will travel to London, though he’s not expected to play. There’s no target date for a return, though 1/15 against Toronto, MLK Day, seems like it would be the goal.
“I thought his rise-up looked pretty good,” Brown added. “He didn’t shoot any threes. But that skill that he has, as I’ve said to everybody, it connects the dots. And when you don’t have it, you realize it even more. He can create a shot for himself. He can create a shot for others. He’s got a lot of wiggle to his game. That was different. He’s different than all of our players.”
“I thought it looked good. I thought his rise up looked pretty good.” – Brett Brown talks about Fultz’s fundamentals in practice today pic.twitter.com/xmNVFtoecH
— Jessica Camerato (@JCameratoNBCS) January 7, 2018
Next up on the docket is a London trip to play the Celtics on Thursday.
From a brand perspective, the Sixers will appear in a high-profile game in front of an international crowd. Maybe they’ll sell some jerseys and bring in some new fans.
From a competition perspective, the team loses a home game and has to fly six hours to play a neutral court contest.
Brown didn’t have a ton to say when asked about trying to reconcile those two ideas.
“I mean, I hear your question. It’s a good one. And I do, as the coach, you think about that. But it’s something that has been decided by the hierarchy of the league and the organization and we’re just going to go support it instead of second guessing it or wondering ‘what if’ we had (that extra home game) back.”
Ben Simmons, never one to waste words, took the same position.
“Nah, I’ll play anywhere,” was his four-word answer.
And while it doesn’t mean much to him from that standpoint, Simmons says he’s looking forward to the opportunity to play in front of an international crowd.
“I think it’s pretty amazing,” he said. “When the lock out took place awhile back, when I was back in Australia, we had Patty (Mills) who came back and played in the NBL, which was awesome. You want to see NBA players who (are from) where you’re from. So it’s going to be cool, coming across fans that have never seen an NBA game.”
Brown, meantime, says he’s going to use the extended time off to work on the team’s defense.
“It’s a rare opportunity in the NBA,” the head coach explained. “We have four and a half – I call a shoot around a half (of a practice) – we have four and a half opportunities, prior to playing Boston in London, and we play Boston twice in the next three days, and just try to take this break in the middle of the year and refine. Not really add anything, just refine ourselves. The challenge to the group is, we’re 6th in the NBA defensively, and without Joel on the floor we need to improve. And we want to challenge our bench, to challenge anybody, that when Joel isn’t on the floor, we have to improve. Our current ranking of sixth, we want to be in the top five. To do that, it requires the bench and others to be better defensively. That’s what I’ve set in my sights over the next four and a half days. That’s the message. I thought today was a good step toward achieving that.”
Sixers wrapping up practice over in Camden: pic.twitter.com/eH1lQwebtG
— Kevin Kinkead (@Kevin_Kinkead) January 7, 2018
“I was speechless”
The Sixers waived Jacob Pullen last week to make room for shooting guard James Young, who signed a two-way contract.
He’s averaging 22.3 points per game and shooting 37% from three in the G League this season.
“My agent just called me after a game and he said, ‘Elton (Brand) is going to come up here and watch you play a little bit,’ Young told reporters on Sunday. “I couldn’t believe it, I was speechless. I played, talked to him after the game, and here I am.”
Young was drafted 17th overall in 2014 and played three seasons with the Celtics. He was waived by the Bucks in October and wound up on their affiliate club, the Wisconsin Herd, a few days later.
“It was tough on me,” said Young of the last two years. “Family was always there supporting me, though. A lot of stuff was going through my head and I had to fight through it. There’s a lot of ups and downs in this league and it was a long process.”
For those wondering about James Young, here is his shot chart from the G League this season. 22.3 ppg, 5.6 rpg, and 3 apg for Wisconsin Herd. pic.twitter.com/rTWcMoMHBq
— Drunk Sixers Fan (@DrunkSixersFan) January 5, 2018