CAMDEN, N.J. — In a crowded gym Thursday at the Sixers' practice facility, there were just four guys who'd ever touched an NBA floor. Three of them have played a combined 486 minutes.
Maybe it's not yet fair to call Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot a "veteran," but among the 14 players prepping for next week's Utah Jazz Summer League, the second-year Frenchman stood out.
In 2016-17, the 6-foot-6 swingman played in 69 games, logging nearly 1,200 minutes, and his 6.4 points per game put Luwawu-Cabarrot in a tie for 16th in scoring among all rookies. Perhaps more importantly, though, he really began to evolve during the season's final quarter — TLC started the last 18 games of the year, putting up double-figure points in all but six of those contests.
And after scoring a career-high 24 in the Sixers' penultimate matchup, Luwawu-Cabarrot probably would've been glad to see the season stretch beyond game No. 82.
"If the next season was starting the day after, I was ready for that," he said. "At the beginning, I wasn’t playing a lot but I practiced hard every day, and every time you practice hard like I did, you need to improve and you need to step up. That’s what I did."
With 10 rookies in camp, Luwawu-Cabarrot's experience puts him in a unique position this time around. Last year, the 24th pick in the 2016 NBA draft was solely focused on earning himself a roster spot with the Sixers after coming over from France.
Now, with his spot solidified, he'll be mainly tasked with showing the younger guys what's needed to play their way into the Association.
"You’ve got to be ready for it," Luwawu-Cabarrot said. "The level of intensity was high. All the guys when they come to summer league, they try to show themselves. They overpressure themselves to be the guy, so the intensity was hard.
"I want to come here and play and be free and score points — just run the court. And I want to bring the leadership and get some more experience too."
When the NBA's All-Rookie teams were released Monday, the attention was all on Joel Embiid and Dario Saric, the top two scoring first-year players in the NBA last season. But if you isolate TLC's numbers from games 65 through 82, he compares similarly to Saric in terms of scoring and outpaces Rookie of the Year Malcolm Brogdon in both points and rebounds.
So what's the next step for Luwawu-Cabarrot?
Well, the Sixers have plenty of guys to play out on the wing. Robert Covington took major steps forward last season and is now regarded as one of the better 3-and-D players in the league. Justin Anderson showed that he has staying power after the team picked him up in the Nerlens Noel trade. And veteran Gerald Henderson is an established NBA scorer.
The Sixers could also go out and pick up a proven three-point weapon like J.J. Redick or Danny Green (via trade) this offseason.
But if TLC's 30.2 minutes per night down the stretch are any indicator, he is as much — if not more — a part of "the process" than any of those guys, and summer league likely is just the next step in Luwawu-Cabarrot's education on what it takes to be a consistent NBA player.
"[The biggest thing that surprised me was] the regularity of the players," he said. "The way they play every night, you can be a role player or a superstar. Every time they’re here, they’ve got to be ready. They eat healthy, they get out of bed at 10 or even earlier.
"You’ve just got to be professional and that’s what’s impressed me the most because it’s 82 games and the guys are always here. There’s no one night where a guy’s under his level."