CAMDEN, N.J. — This season, it sounds as if the Sixers will allow Aron Baynes to launch as many corner threes as he’d like.
In the Sixers’ playoff series against the Celtics last season, Baynes, a 6-foot-10 center who had made 5 of 24 three-pointers in the regular season and first round of the playoffs, knocked down 7 of 16 long-range attempts. As a result, the Sixers had Joel Embiid follow Baynes when he stepped out to the perimeter, instead of staying home in the middle of the defense.
“Last year, I thought we kind of made a mistake as far as playing against Boston,” Embiid said Friday. “I wasn’t allowed to help off of Baynes, especially when he was in the corner. We had a lot of times when Boston was driving to the paint and I wasn’t in there or I was stuck in the corner because I wasn’t allowed to help."
Now, Embiid is the “commander and chief” of the Sixers’ new defensive scheme, as head coach Brett Brown puts it. That puts a lot of responsibility on him, but it also means he has to be in sync with his teammates. It’s a process everybody is still figuring out.
“With this new concept, it’s going to allow me to do basically whatever I want,” Embiid said. “If I want to go help, if I want to cut off people, it gives me that ability.
“But at the same time, it can also be horrible, because you gotta communicate. My teammates gotta cover for me, I gotta cover for them. So it’s going to take a little bit of time. Last year, we got really good defensively, so this change is big and we’re going to see how that goes.”
A reporter asked Landry Shamet on Friday if he thought he’d surprised people with his impressive preseason. Shamet stepped into the rotation after Wilson Chandler strained his left hamstring in the preseason opener, averaging 11 points on 45 percent shooting in the Sixers’ final three preseason games.
“If I have, I have,” Shamet said. “If not, then so be it. To me personally, the only thing I was worried about was just trying to get better. I didn’t surprise myself, that’s the way I look at it. I know what I’m capable of, and I have more in me. That wasn’t the best version of Landry Shamet even.”
The roster is set
The Sixers on Friday waived Emeka Okafor, Cory Jefferson and Darin Johnson, trimming down to their final roster of 15 plus two-way players Shake Milton and Demetrius Jackson.
The full roster is here.
-Joel Embiid on his weight. Embiid is listed at 260 pounds. He’s said he’s in the best physical condition of his career after his first healthy offseason.
“The way teams were guarding me, everybody knows I’m a three-point shooter. The factor was what to do after that, so that’s where my focus was this summer. I got a lot better. My coaches have seen it, my teammates have seen it, even at points in the preseason. Putting the ball on the floor, I’m more comfortable; ball-handling has been a big key. That’s what I’ve done a lot and it shows out there, lot of hard work.”
-Robert Covington on his offseason improvement