76ers

Sixers player evaluation: Damien Wilkins

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Sixers player evaluation: Damien Wilkins

Damien Wilkins

Position: Guard/forward

Status: Unrestricted free agent

Signature game of 2012-13
Wilkins poured in 24 points on 10-for-15 shooting in Denver on March 21. It was Wilkins’ 13 points in the second half that put the Sixers up by five points with 14 seconds left to go in the game.

It was also Wilkins’ foul on Corey Brewer’s three-point attempt with 2.1 seconds left in the game that led to the Sixers’ 101-100 loss.

Strangely, the Sixers were 0-3 in game in which Wilkins scored 20-plus points.

From March 21: “I was just trying to challenge the shot aggressively and not give him a clean look, but I was a little too aggressive and I cost my team a win tonight,” Wilkins said. “It was interesting with a lot of misfortunes, but even still, I can’t foul a guy shooting a three-pointer when we are up two. We didn’t deserve to win that game and over-aggression cost us one.”

Wilkins in 2012-13
Wilkins made an impression on head coach Doug Collins and his teammates the second he stepped into the gym before training camp. A nine-year NBA veteran, Wilkins’ teammates voted him the players’ representative and his was a strong voice in the locker room.

Though Wilkins didn’t see much playing time early in the season, he finished the year strong and Collins cited his emergence in the starting lineup as the reason the Sixers were able to string together some wins over the final two months.

In 32 games before the All-Star break, Wilkins averaged 1.8 points and 9.2 minutes per game. After the break, Wilkins appeared in 29 games with 21 starts to average 11.3 points per game while shooting at a 49.4 percent clip.

Prospectus
Wilkins is an unrestricted free agent and would be a valuable addition to a contending team. It would serve the Sixers well if they were to bring back Wilkins, who played for the veteran minimum in 2012-13. Wilkins’ game is all grit, hustle and determination and his attitude off the court reflects that. In comparison to other one-year players like Nick Young, Wilkins clearly made the most significant contribution.

On Damien Wilkins …
“He has great basketball I.Q., and the thing I love about him is he always prepares himself to play. When you’re on the road you see him get up, he’s the first one to come down and he has a breakfast sandwich spot in every city. You can set your watch by him and I always believed that when you have guys get ready like that and have structure, it helps them play more consistently.

“The coaches, we all trust him completely.”

--Doug Collins, March 17, 2013

Sixers refuse to look at silver lining from season-opening loss

Sixers refuse to look at silver lining from season-opening loss

BOX SCORE

WASHINGTON — In years past, overcoming a 12-point deficit and trailing a playoff-contending team by just two points with a minute to go would be considered an “A for effort” for the Sixers

If they held their own against a more experienced team and didn’t get dominated by John Wall, a 120-115 loss on the road wasn’t really that bad … was it?

Not this season.

The Sixers are in a new phase, one with actual pieces versus promising potential. With that comes higher expectations to win, and it starts in the locker room after the first game. 

“I don’t like taking positives from losses,” JJ Redick said. “We need to clean up a lot of stuff. We need to be better. It takes a lot to win in this league. We need to figure that out, and we will. We are good enough to do that.” 

The Sixers were in Wednesday's game until the end (see observations). They withstood the combined 53 points from Wall and Bradley Beal with a 29-point performance by Robert Covington and double-doubles from Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons (see studs, duds, more).

The team acknowledged it had a chance to win. Yes, there were encouraging moments. No, they weren’t hanging their heads and writing off the season after opening night. 

At the same time, they are not ignoring the missteps that landed them in the loss column. Those are the turning points to learn from this season. 

The Sixers gave up just three points off four turnovers in the first half. The second half was a different story: 20 points off 13 turnovers. Down two points late in the fourth, the Sixers committed a pair of turnovers in a span of 30 seconds that hindered them from closing the gap. Those errors have been a focal point of conversation among the players. 

“Too many turnovers. That's big,” Embiid said (more on him here). “That's been the talk in the locker room. Got to work on that.”

The Sixers have one day of practice before facing the Celtics and Raptors in back-to-back games. It's just a small taste of what's to come in a stacked schedule over the first two months of the season. The attitude is be good enough to win, not good enough to compete. 

“We’re not going to try to lose this season and take a bunch of positives from that,” Redick said. “We’re trying to win. We’re trying to be in the playoffs this year. That’s got to be the mindset.”

Joel Embiid 'surprised' by amount of playing time in Sixers' opener

Joel Embiid 'surprised' by amount of playing time in Sixers' opener

WASHINGTON — In the end, Joel Embiid’s playing time was a non-issue.

After days of frustration leading up to opening night, Embiid played just three seconds shy of 27 minutes against the Wizards. That far surpassed the 16 minutes he anticipated a day earlier on Tuesday (see story)

“I was surprised,” Embiid said following the Sixers’ 120-115 loss on Wednesday night (see observations). “I was expecting way less than that, but it just shows you they trust me.”

Brett Brown had maintained Embiid’s minutes were going to be more flexible than last year and he wasn’t locked into a specific number by the medical staff. Initially, Brown projected Embiid would play somewhere in the teens, but the game presented an opportunity for him to log more. 

Embiid had played 21:38 through three quarters and it seemed, based on last season, he was done for the night. The coaching staff calculated Embiid had over 20 minutes to rest between the third and the fourth quarters, so Brown put him back into the game with just over five minutes to play. He finished the game with 18 points, 13 rebounds, three assists, a block and four turnovers (see highlights).

“It’s a range,” Brown said. “It’s more of a plan that we have this year than a restriction. When you look at and you feel the flow of the game, that’s where the variables come in.”

Embiid wants open lines of communication between him and the medical staff — for him to know what its planning and for him to be honest about how he is feeling.

“It’s on me to not lie to them and tell them how my body feels when I’m tired,” Embiid said. “At some point through the game I was tired and I told them to take me out.”

Embiid is ready for a new outlook on his availability moving forward. 

“We’ve got to stop calling it 'minutes restrictions,'" Embiid said. "There’s a plan with that — it’s just go out and play. If you’re tired, get out because injuries happen more often when you’re tired.”