76ers

Despite all the changes, Thad Young still thriving

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Despite all the changes, Thad Young still thriving

Glen “Big Baby” Davis came barreling down the lane on Tuesday night, dribbling the basketball with all 289 pounds of him taking aim directly at Thaddeus Young.

Davis seemed stunned when Young timed his vertical leap perfectly to get in the air and block what would have been the go-ahead basket for the Magic with 2:11 to play in the fourth quarter.

With 33 seconds left, Young drove the lane himself just as Davis had done, only the Sixer forward’s quickness allowed him to leave his defender in the dust and make a left-hook bank shot.

Young’s shot was supposed to seal the game. As it turned out, that bucket only allowed the Sixers to reach the first overtime after Davis hit his first three-pointer in two years to force the extra session.

Young didn’t let that discourage him as he ended up with 25 points and 12 rebounds to help the Sixers claim a 126-125 win over the Magic in double overtime.

Young is 25 years old and playing for his fifth coach in seven years. He’s gone from starter to reserve and back to starter again during his career.

The lefty forward was allowed to shoot from the outside and then asked not to. Now that the door has been opened again under Sixers head coach Brett Brown.

Such a whirlwind might have frustrated other players, but Young has simply been able to take on every obstacle.

“I feel like he is starting to figure out how his new coach is going to use him and him use himself,” Brown said. “I see the evolution of him slowly embracing roles and accepting how he can help the team.

Young flashed just how much he is adapting to Brown’s system during his stellar effort in Tuesday’s victory.

“He was fantastic. We are going to remember him catching and going on two big layups at big moments in the game,” Brown said. “We are going to remember him stepping out and making some threes.”

“But what I remember is him engaged in timeouts and making sure all the young guys are on point with our pick-and-roll defense and how we are going to guard the post and him making sure he would perfectly execute whatever play we drew. He was engaged right across the board and he showed tremendous character, tremendous leadership, and the stats will show skill.”

At 25, Young is still youthful in age and an elder statesman all at the same time. While he has come to grips with another new coaching style, Young has also realized that he must now be the one to help instruct teammates put them on the right path.

“It is definitely different. We have a lot more young guys, so paying attention to detail in timeouts and coming into games, knowing the scouting reports, that is huge,” Young said. “When a team figures out a weak link, they are going to take advantage. When they figure out which weakness ours is, they will take advantage of us. So we can ill afford miscues.”

Banged-up Markelle Fultz is latest chapter in Sixers' painful rookie history

Banged-up Markelle Fultz is latest chapter in Sixers' painful rookie history

CAMDEN, N.J. — Brett Brown has been here before. The scenario isn’t as drastic in the past, but it’s familiar nonetheless: starting the season with an injured rookie for the fifth straight year.

Markelle Fultz will begin his first NBA season dealing with ongoing right shoulder and right knee soreness. The No. 1 pick is expected to play on opening night Wednesday, but will come off the bench after appearing in only two preseason games. 

Brown has learned to manage this type of situation after years of experience. Nerlens Noel missed Brown’s entire first season because of an ACL injury. Joel Embiid sat out the following two seasons with foot injuries. Ben Simmons suffered a season-ending foot fracture in last year’s training camp. 

The biggest lesson? 

“To go slow,” Brown said. “To not put them in a position where it’s going to produce some difficult times.” 

Fultz was likely to be a starter when the Sixers traded up to draft him first overall in June. The 19-year-old guard hasn’t had that much experience since then thanks to injuries in both summer league and preseason. 

The Sixers face John Wall, Kyrie Irving and Kyle Lowry in the first three games alone. That would be a tall defensive task if Fultz were to start. 

“This league is driven by men, this league is driven by veterans,” Brown said. “To just put him in that environment is just, I think, poor coaching and I’m not doing it.”

Just as Simmons took advice from Embiid during his injury, he is offering words of wisdom to Fultz.

“[You’ve] got to to take your time and you definitely have to take care of your body,” Simmons said. “Put your body first. There’s no need to rush.”

The Sixers have the backcourt depth to adjust without Fultz in the starting lineup. They have been turning to veteran Jerryd Bayless at shooting guard alongside Simmons, their intended backcourt pairing last season. 

In the meantime, Brown will balance Fultz’s health, his growth as an NBA player, and the team’s success. 

“The end game needs to be developing Markelle Fultz," Brown said. 

Joel Embiid disappointed Brett Brown has him on another minutes limit

Joel Embiid disappointed Brett Brown has him on another minutes limit

CAMDEN, N.J. — Joel Embiid would like to play 48 minutes every game. The Sixers are looking at a maximum of 20 for opening night.

"I don't really know if there's a solid number," Brett Brown said Monday after practice. "I can tell if you were to choose a number, it's somewhere in the teens."

Embiid was hoping for more playing time on Wednesday against the Wizards, his first regular-season game since Jan. 27 (left knee surgery).

"I didn't know about that, but that's very disappointing," Embiid said Monday of the minutes restriction. "I feel great and hopefully that changes based on today's practice and tomorrow's practice."

The Sixers are being cautious with Embiid, who has both a lengthy history of injuries and a massive new contract extension. He clocked 15 minutes in both of his preseason games last week. Embiid felt he could have played twice as many minutes.

While the Sixers aren't ready to go as high as 30 minutes yet, they could exercise some wiggle room based on the flow of the game.

"There will be some minutes restrictions, but it's also a judgment of how is the game being played, not just looking at rote, rigid number," Brown said.

The NBA's new timeout rules could impact Embiid's playing time. The updated format changes include a decrease in the maximum number of timeouts allowed (18 to 14), 75-second team timeouts and fewer timeouts in the final minutes of the game. 

"One of the things that we're doing this year unlike previous years is there's a little bit of a looseness in relation to it doesn't have to be rigid if the game didn't dictate some track meet," Brown said. "This is like I'm coaching in the London Olympic Games again. The game moves. I can have guys at a scorers table for two minutes with no stoppage. So sometimes the torrid pace of a game doesn't favor Jo where you go flying up and down."

In addition to individual games, it remains to be seen if Embiid will be cleared this season for back-to-backs. The Sixers face their first set of consecutive games this Friday and Saturday against the Celtics at home and the Raptors in Toronto.