CAMDEN, N.J. — Richaun Holmes has been cleared to make his NBA season debut on Friday and Brett Brown is ready to incorporate Holmes' unique style of play into the Sixers' system.
"What you should hear the loudest is, he is back," Brown said Thursday. "He's different. We're excited to have him back. He can help this team."
Holmes has been sidelined since he suffered a fracture in his left wrist during the Sixers' preseason game against the Celtics on Oct. 6. The injury did not require surgery.
The 24-year-old center made a strong case for the backup spot last season. Holmes posted 13.6 points and 6.9 rebounds in 26 games after the All-Star break in the absence of Embiid following his knee surgery. The Sixers, who rank fifth in the league in distance (miles) per game, can use his ability to get up and down the court.
"There's an athleticism that he's an elite roller," Brown said. "He rolls to dunk. I think that his breakaway rim-to-rim speed just running in early offense is A-plus. There is a sort of tenacity and a toughness — he wears his heart on his sleeve — that I think adds to what we're trying to do anyway. There's just a bounce. There's a bounce to Richaun Holmes that makes him different."
Brown has not determined Holmes' playing time against the Pacers. He will have to decide between Holmes and Amir Johnson, who has earned the backup role behind Joel Embiid and is averaging 16.5 minutes per game. Brown also will take what's unfolding on the court into consideration.
"Initially, you're going to feel the Amir situation out," Brown said. "Obviously there's a competitive situation right there with Amir and Richaun. I think the game is going to speak louder than my preconceived notion."
The backup minutes will have to be earned by both bigs. The Sixers have been turning to Johnson to add a veteran presence to the second unit. Brown credited him for being "positionally correct, almost always." Johnson has averaged 12.0 points and 9.0 boards in the Sixers' last two wins. The 30-year-old said he has learned about pace — "guys are flying down the floor" — from his younger teammates just as he's been tasked with teaching them about the game.
"He brings toughness," T.J. McConnell said. "The ability to play on both ends. He kind of brings it all. He's just a general good dude. We love having him around."
Whether it's Holmes or Johnson, the Sixers will have to try to stop a streaking Pacers team. Indiana has won three straight, including victories over the Spurs and Cavaliers.