Jerami Grant did not suit up for Thursday night’s game against the Chicago Bulls at the Wells Fargo Center after missing the last two practices with a sore calf.
So with Grant out for Thursday’s game, only undrafted rookie T.J. McConnell has appeared in every game for the this season. The fact that only one Sixer has appeared in every game this season just goes to show the difficulty of an NBA season, coach Brett Brown said.
“It’s hard and the more you see it and the more you go through it, those people that break records for duration like Andre Miller or Bruce Bowen, you’re reminded of how much luck you need and how much attention you have to pay attention to your body,” Brown said before Thursday’s game. “So you have to have knowledge of your body and sports science and get lucky and take care of yourself.”
McConnell is one of a handful of rookies to play in ever game this season, along with New York's Kristaps Porzingis, Minnesota's Karl-Anthony Towns, the Los Angeles Lakers' D’Angelo Russell, Detroit’s Stanley Johnson and Grant’s younger brother, Jerian.
Brown said he would be surprised if Grant missed Saturday’s game against Portland. In the meantime, Brown went with JaKarr Sampson as a starting three-man in Grant’s place.
A brief break
Grant’s absence isn’t the only one that’s been noticeable. Rookie Richaun Holmes has been out of the lineup for the previous two games as Brown has shortened his rotation with veteran Carl Landry getting most of the time off the bench.
However, Brown says Holmes’ stint on the bench will be short-lived.
“I’m sure that anybody, especially a rookie, doesn’t understand the rhythm of an NBA season. He deserves [to play]. He’s done nothing wrong,” Brown said about Holmes. “He came in and played well during the game we won, and it comes down to something has to give and it ends up more of a slight endorsement of Carl over Richaun. In regards to him continuing to improve and to play, we’re considering everything.”
Holmes factors into the Sixers’ long-term plans, Brown said.
“He will receive attention. He has a big future,” the coach said.
The reason is Holmes has some bona fide NBA skills. He has a nice touch from the perimeter and has a knack for setting solid screens in pick-and-roll situations that belie his experience.
In fact, Brown said, the other rookies — and some veterans — can learn from Holmes’ ability to set picks.
“I think it starts because he’s a good screener. He’s a committed screener and he’s not afraid to hit people,” Brown said. “That’s one of the areas where we continue to work with Jahlil (Okafor) on to be a better screen setter. I think Richaun is an example of someone who played college basketball a lot longer than most of the guys we have.
“When you watch Nerlens you see [veteran pick-and-roll star] Amar'e (Stoudemire). If you study Amar'e, he never set any pick-and-rolls. He got there and spun out. He got out of pick-and rolls quick. Richaun gets there and sticks. He forces people over. He hits people and sets screens and I think he can step out and shoot a three. He’s a committed roller and he’s a good pick-and-roller for being so young.”
Brown on Hinkie and Colangelo
In a surprising development after Wednesday’s practice, both general manager Sam Hinkie and chairman of basketball operations Jerry Colangelo spoke to the press in a non-acquisition setting.
So after the pair gave a state of the team through the midway point, on Wednesday, Brown was asked before Thursday’s game how the duo is working together as well as with him.
It’s going pretty well so far, Brown said.
“There’s a little bit of a counter balance,” Brown said. “There’s a different way to see where we’re at with different eyes coming in and making clean assessments. I read some of Jerry’s comments on Sam and the good job he’s done at accumulating assets and that is very true. It’s fair.
“There’s a partnership those two are forming and they are getting to know one another and they compliment each other, kind of like Mike (D’Antoni) has done with me. We’re different and all those things are healthy.”