Everything fell into place for Mike Scott when he got traded to Sixers

Everything fell into place for Mike Scott when he got traded to Sixers

You don't have to be a star to be a fan favorite. It's something Mike Scott has learned from Sixers fans.

Scott had always been “the go-to guy” for all his teams growing up. When he was in grade school, high school, even at Virginia where he led the team in scoring his last two seasons.

Then he got to the NBA and that all changed. He didn’t get off the bench much his first two seasons in Atlanta. He was then part of a Hawks team that won 60 games under head coach Mike Budenholzer and featured veterans like Al Horford and Elton Brand.

After up-and-down stops in Washington and L.A., Scott new things had to change ... eventually.

Coaches always told me my role would be, if I wanted to earn more playing time, to dive for loose balls — kind of like (the Rockets’) P.J. Tucker, sort of do the dirty [work] that people don't want to do,” Scott said at a roundtable at the Sixers practice facility. “I always thought it was going to be scoring — I just like to score. Finally it clicked — it only took seven years for me to actually figure it out. Doing the dirty work, not trying to score 20 every night. Maybe I'll have six points, five rebounds, four assists. Do the dirty work, do every little thing and just play with energy.

Fast forward to his time with the Sixers and it seems like a perfect fit. Scott figured out his role and the way to star in it after being traded to Philly — and also won over the hearts of the fans with the Mike Scott Hive. With franchise players like Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons already in place, the Sixers needed to surround them with role players like Scott.

Scott admitted that he was "hype" when he learned he'd been traded here, but it wasn’t a sure thing that Scott was coming back this offseason. The seven-year veteran said he had offers from three or four other teams, but that Philadelphia was always his first choice if the sides could make it work. The Sixers retooled their roster yet again, adding Horford and Josh Richardson to a starting lineup that featured All-Stars Embiid and Simmons and borderline All-Star Tobias Harris.

Scott brought up Tucker during his media availability and it’s a solid comparison of roles. Tucker does all the “dirty work” and hunts threes while the star players on his teams do their thing. 

“P.J. Tucker always comes to my mind, how he's always all over the place, doing the little things and not trying to force a lot,” Scott said. “He knows who the scorers are on his team. Same thing — I know who are our go-to guys are. Of course I'm going to play my game, but I'm not going to f— that up."

Scott didn’t arrive to this conclusion on his own. He learned from veterans like Horford, Paul Millsap and Kyle Korver during his time in Atlanta. Doc Rivers and Clippers assistant Rex Kalamanian told him before last season started that he needed to find ways to affect the game when his jumper isn’t falling. He took all of that to heart and is thriving in Philadelphia — with his teammates and the fan base.

The occasional big shot may happen — like the one he hit in Game 4 at Brooklyn — but Scott knows that’s not why he’s here.

Sometimes you just get caught up in trying to score,” Scott said. “I've always been a scorer — Virginia, high school, I was always the go-to guy. Coming into the league, I wasn't. I still just wanted to score. Maybe a coach told me this at one point but I don't remember, but it just always stuck in my mind from when I had a meeting with Doc, saying, 'Do something else.' That just stuck out. I'm pretty sure a coach probably did tell me [something like that] and I was probably just like, 'F— you. I wanna f—ing shoot.'

Luckily for the Sixers, it appears it all came together for Scott at the best possible time.

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Sixers at Magic: 3 storylines to watch and how to stream the game

Sixers at Magic: 3 storylines to watch and how to stream the game

Updated: 6:02 p.m.

The 7-3 Sixers will play against their No. 1 pick in the NBA draft two years ago Wednesday night in Orlando.

Here are the essentials for tonight’s game against the 3-7 Magic and Markelle Fultz: 

When: 7 p.m. ET with Sixers Pregame Live at 6:30 p.m.
Where: Amway Center
Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia 
Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app

And here are three storylines to watch: 

A long and winding road

It’s been less than a year since Fultz last suited up for the Sixers. Since a scoreless effort on Nov. 19 in the Sixers’ win over the Suns, he experienced a series of agent-recommended medical consultations, a diagnosis of thoracic outlet syndrome, a trade minutes before the deadline in February and plenty of time watching on the bench as the Magic made a run to the playoffs. Of course, Fultz went through a lot prior to the last year, too, including a diagnosis in November 2017 of scapular muscle imbalance and the persistent inability, for whatever reason, to shoot the way he had at the University of Washington. 

Now, he’s started the last five games for the Magic. Fultz is averaging 9.7 points, 3.1 assists and 2.0 rebounds on the season. He’s already taken 22 three-point shots, seven more than he attempted in his 33 games with the Sixers, though he’s made just four of them.

Load management is in the spotlight 

Joel Embiid is out tonight in the second game of a back-to-back. He'll be listed as such with "injury maintenance/left knee soreness," but this is part of the plan to keep Embiid healthy, per a team source. As we saw with the Kawhi Leonard situation, league rules mandate that there be such a designation for a player sitting out.

Last night, it sounded like his preference was to play vs. Orlando.

“… At the beginning of the season, the goal was to limit my back-to-backs,” he said. “Obviously, the two-game suspension doesn't help. I feel like before that I was in a good rhythm and I kind of lost it. The last couple games I have not been good, especially when it comes to my efficiency and taking care of the ball. I feel like I need to get in a rhythm. So, we’re going to to figure it out.”

Al Horford will return after a load management night. Trey Burke, who missed Tuesday's game with left calf tightness, is available.

Don’t expect a shootout

The Magic are shooting a league-worst 28.2 percent from three-point range. At 33.4 percent, the Sixers are tied for 21st. 

This certainly looks like it might be a low-scoring game. All of the teams currently in the top 10 in defensive rating have a winning record besides the Magic, who are No. 3. They had the second-best defensive rating last season after the trade deadline, too, so their defense doesn’t seem to be a fluke. Jonathan Isaac has 30 blocks, the most in the league. 

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The highlight Mike Scott remembers to stay positive

The highlight Mike Scott remembers to stay positive

It’s hard to imagine Mike Scott being negative.

Since he arrived in a trade from the Clippers last season, Scott has become a fan favorite and steady, veteran contributor. He immersed himself even more into Philadelphia over the summer by crashing weddings and taking part in Nerf gun wars.

But even the most jovial and fun people can fall victim to negative thoughts. In the past, he’s let it affect his play on the court.

“You don’t want anything negative going through your mind because you’re not going to perform well,” Scott said. “I’ve done it before. I’ve had games or something off the court has happened and I was feeling bad or I just wasn’t myself. It factors in your play a lot."

As he’s gotten older, Scott has gotten better at staying positive.

One of his secrets? Watching old highlights of himself playing well. 

His biggest moment as a Sixers occurred when he hit a game-winning three in Game 4 of the team’s first-round playoff matchup against the Nets. That shot gave the Sixers a commanding 3-1 series lead.

“I always go back to that Game 4 Brooklyn shot,” Scott said. “That shot felt good. I felt like I wasn’t really contributing like I wanted to, I didn’t have the game that I wanted to, but that shot did feel good and I always go back to that shot. It makes me feel like I can play in this league, I belong in this league, I can hit big shots.”

Scott talked about the power of positivity and having teammates you can depend on in an interview, which you can watch above.

NBC Sports Regional Networks has launched a multi-platform campaign on mental health and men's health, HeadStrong: Mental Health and Sports, for the month of November. You can find more information about the initiative here.

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