76ers

Sixers Notes: Grant sits out; Holmes 'has a big future'

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Sixers Notes: Grant sits out; Holmes 'has a big future'

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.”

Sixers Talk podcast: New-look starting 5; What food would you break quarantine for?

Sixers Talk podcast: New-look starting 5; What food would you break quarantine for?

On this edition of Sixers Talk, we discuss which food we'd break quarantine for, the Sixers' new-look starting five and much more.

(2:16) — Richaun Holmes forced to quarantine after leaving the bubble for food.
(10:28) — Two players test positive for COVID-19 while inside the bubble.
(15:54) — With Shake Milton at point guard, it sounds like Sixers are leaning toward a new starting five.

Subscribe and rate Sixers Talk: Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Spotify | Stitcher | Art19 | YouTube



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Why Shake Milton could thrive in strange NBA playoffs this year

Why Shake Milton could thrive in strange NBA playoffs this year

On March 1, Shake Milton introduced himself to the NBA world by dropping 39 points on the Clippers in L.A on national TV.

Not bad for a guy that was told he was out of the rotation before an injury to Ben Simmons thrust him into the starting lineup.

But that seems to be the story of Milton. He’s unflappable. Whatever his life or career presents him, he keeps moving forward.

As the Sixers continue their training camp at Disney World to prepare for the resumed NBA season, Brett Brown has been using Milton as his starting point guard, moving Simmons to the four. That means the 23-year-old that’s played 52 career NBA games appears to have the inside track on a starting job for a team looking to go on a deep playoff run.

No pressure or anything there.

There are people that just thrive in these circumstances. You can throw them in intense situations, and they act so calm you have to wonder if they even have a pulse. Milton’s imperturbable demeanor has likely helped him get to where he is. 

He was a freshman in high school when he lost his father. Myron Milton was just 43 when he passed away suddenly. The two were close and basketball was a big part of their bond. His dad told him to “just go out there and play like you’re the best player on the floor,” Shake said to NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Serena Winters.

The Oklahoma native was recruited to play at SMU by former Sixers coach and Hall of Famer Larry Brown, who said he “got lucky” in landing Milton over the likes of the University of Oklahoma and Indiana. Milton had a strong college career but that’s also where injuries became an unfortunate part of his story.

Milton suffered a hand injury that limited him to 22 games his junior year and final season for the Mustangs. A back injury presumably caused him to slip to the back end of the draft. After making strides at the NBA level his rookie season, he suffered another hand injury. Just three games into the 2019-20 season — and when it appeared he had a legitimate chance at a spot in the rotation — a knee injury sidelined him.

Ironically, injuries are what led to his next prolonged NBA opportunity. When Simmons went down, Milton stepped in and produced in a big way, averaging 17.8 points and shooting 60.4 percent from three over his last nine games before play was suspended.

All the injuries and time spent with the Delaware Blue Coats has led to this moment, where he could potentially be the team's starting point guard in the postseason.

“You won’t find a better kid than him, and somebody that really trusts the process,” Larry Brown said as a guest on the Sixers Talk podcast in May. “And Philly did a remarkable job with him. Playing in the G League in Delaware, Shake told me was huge. …

“The greatest thing is they had patience with him. They had some injuries and you never know when the opportunity is going to be there for you to show you can play.”

Milton has rewarded that patience already. Now, he’ll have to try to carry the momentum he built before the season was suspended onto one of the biggest NBA stages.

But it’s all part of Milton’s story and why if anyone can do this at a young age and with so little NBA experience, it could be him.

“There’s a poise that he has as a person that I’m assuming everybody on this call that has interviewed him feels,” Brett Brown said in a video conference call with reporters Tuesday. “And I think that can help him navigate through a pressure situation of the NBA playoffs. I do believe how he’s wired from a human perspective can help him deal with that environment I think in a more calm way.”

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More on the Sixers