A.J. English

7-time NBA All-Star Joe Johnson to work out with Sixers

7-time NBA All-Star Joe Johnson to work out with Sixers

Updated: 9:36 p.m. 

The MVP of the Big3 — and a seven-time NBA All-Star — is in Philadelphia and ready to work out for the Sixers. 

Joe Johnson, the 6-foot-7 38-year-old also known as "Iso Joe," will work out with the Sixers Thursday, sources confirmed. Marc J. Spears of ESPN and The Undefeated first reported the news. 

Johnson has been dominant this season for the Triplets in the Big3, a 3-on-3 league co-founded by Ice Cube which features four-point shots.

In 1,276 NBA games, Johnson has averaged 16.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.9 assists. He spent the prime of his career with the Atlanta Hawks, posting 20.9 points per game in seven seasons with the team. Johnson's last NBA game was Game 7 of the 2018 Western Conference Finals, when he played five minutes for the Houston Rockets.

The Sixers' roster is close to capacity. The team currently has 19 players under contract — 15 who project to start the season on the active roster, Norvel Pelle and Marial Shayok on two-way deals and Christ Koumadje and Isaiah Miles on Exhibit 10 contracts. NBA teams can have up to 20 players during the offseason.

Of course, if the Sixers do decide they'd like to bring Johnson in, they might have some competition from the other contending teams Spears reports he's working out with, the Clippers, Bucks and Nuggets.

There's certainly no harm in the team working Johnson out. Despite Johnson's advanced age, his ability to create shots and score is something that might appeal to the Sixers, whose current wing options off the bench are Zhaire Smith, Matisse Thybulle, James Ennis and Furkan Korkmaz. 

Another notable inclusion in the workout is former Sixer Spencer Hawes, sources confirmed. ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski first reported Hawes' being part of the workout. The 7-foot-1 center played three-plus seasons with the Sixers, averaging 10.0 points and 7.0 rebounds between the 2010-11 and 2013-14 seasons before being traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2014. Though the Sixers are already a massive team, there's next to nothing to lose from working Hawes out.

Hawes averaged 14.2 points and 7.2 rebounds in nine G-League games for the South Bay Lakers last year, shooting 45.0 percent from three-point range. He's certainly an intriguing prospect — just one who is 31 years old, hasn't played in the NBA since the 2016-17 season and doesn't fill a clear need for the Sixers. 

A.J. English will also work out with the team Thursday, a source confirmed. Sportnado's Nicola Lupo first reported English's workout. 

The 6-foot-3 English scored over 2,000 points in his college career at Iona. A native of Wilmington, Delaware, English played for Lavrio in Greece last season.  

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Seniors at Sixers' workout counting on benefits of 4-year college career

Seniors at Sixers' workout counting on benefits of 4-year college career

The six players in the Sixers' group workout Tuesday had one thing in common aside from their NBA goals: they were all seniors.

While the projected first two picks in this year’s draft are freshmen — as it has been the case in many years past — those who play four years of college ball can bring their own set of strengths into the league. 

“My freshman year, if I would have came out, I would have been very immature not only as a person but as a player,” UC Santa Barbara shooting guard Michael Bryson said. “Being able to be in college for four years, you learn to deal with the media, you learn to deal with the social life, you learn to deal with the basketball end of it. [It] really allowed for me to hone in on skills, be able to see what I can do, what I can’t do, be able to kind of hide my weaknesses and flourish with my strengths.” 

In a one-and-done era, there have been negative stigmas against four-year players. Back in 2006, Joakim Noah was considered to be a top pick after winning a championship with Florida. He returned for his fourth year (and won another title), and his stock dropped. He was selected ninth by the Bulls in 2007. Seven years later, the Bulls drafted another senior, Doug McDermott, with the 11th pick out of Creighton. 

This year's top two candidates, Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram, both played one season at LSU and Duke, respectively. Oklahoma's Buddy Hield currently is the only senior projected to be a lottery pick.

There is a thought that if a player was that good, that NBA-ready, he would leave school for the draft earlier. Those at the Sixers' workout said staying through their senior year helped them become enhanced players, not hindered their game. 

“You get better,” Iona shooting guard A.J. English said. “I feel like it prepares you for the next level. … I gained a decent amount of weight, got stronger. The approach to the game [improved], trying to bring it every single day in practice, don’t take days off.”

Last year, four seniors were selected in the first round. The participants at Tuesday’s workout are projected to be late-second-round picks or undrafted, and rushing into a decision to forego the remainder of their college career was not a path they wanted to take. 

“I think the biggest thing was just to really get myself completely ready,” Iowa State power forward Georges Niang said. “It’s one thing just to make it to the NBA, it’s another thing to stay in the NBA. I wanted to cover all my bases where the fact that I could stay [there].” 

Maturity was a resounding theme among the prospects. Many spoke on experiences influencing strong leadership skills and setting good examples for younger teammates.

“When we talk to these guys, they’ll obviously be mature," Sixers director of basketball operations/scouting innovation Vince Rozman said. "They’ve been through a lot."

There are also unique circumstances that staying can school can help address. Mississippi power forward Tomasz Gielo grew up playing basketball in Poland, Oregon. He also attended college at Liberty, and those two programs helped him get acclimated with a new style of play before pursuing the NBA.

“For me, being a European player, it helps me understand the American mentality,” Gielo said. “They showed me what it’s like to be in America, what it takes to get to the next level and how you need to carry yourself to be a professional.”

Dayton small forward Dyshawn Pierre now finds himself better prepared for the NBA after seeing the style of play evolve while he was in college. 

“I feel like the game’s changed a little bit [since my freshman year],” he said. “The stretch four is a lot of athletic bigger bigs that can put the ball on the ground. It’s more of a team game than an individual game.”

These players will enter the draft next week with a complete college career on their résumé and years of experience they believe can translate on to the court.

"I think the biggest thing [after four years] is having a winner’s mentality," Niang said. 

A.J. English, Michael Bryson confident in NBA dreams despite mid-major label

A.J. English, Michael Bryson confident in NBA dreams despite mid-major label

The Patriot League is not considered a hotbed for NBA talent, but that conference produced the NBA's Most Improved Player in Portland Trail Blazers guard C.J. McCollum.

After winning the conference's Player of the Year twice and leading Lehigh to an upset of Duke in the NCAA Tournament in 2012, McCollum was taken 10th overall by the Blazers in 2013.

Iona's A.J. English and UC Santa Barbara's Michael Bryson won't be top-10 picks, but McCollum's success — after struggles and injuries plagued his first two seasons as a pro — shows that good players can be found outside of major programs.  

As far as offense goes, English dominated the MAAC. He led the league last season in points, points per game, three-pointers made and attempted, assists, assists per game and for good measure, he also had the highest player efficiency rating in the conference.

English knows the transition won't be easy, but it's a challenge he's ready to accept.

"I've always had a lot of confidence in myself," English said. "I'm from right down the street in Delaware. You have to have confidence coming out of a small state like that so I just try to keep it up."

In leading Iona to the MAAC championship and a first-round loss to Georges Niang's Iowa State squad in the NCAA Tournament, English earned workouts like the one at PCOM on Tuesday.

Bryson has gotten these workouts for one reason: his shot.

Bryson will shoot from anywhere on the floor. He shot 38 percent from three last season, led the Mountain West with 18 points per game and finished third in the conference in field goal percentage despite being a 6-foot-4 off guard. 

He showed off a little bit of that skill for the Sixers on Tuesday. While spending four years at a school like UC Santa Barbara may not seem like a path to the NBA, Bryson is glad that he took that route.

"I think that being able to have four years in college allowed me to really hone my skills," Bryson said. "Be able to see what I can do, what I can't do. Being able to hide my weaknesses and really flourish with my strengths. The social and the media aspect are some of things you need to learn, you have to develop. It was a really fun experience for me being able to play four years at [UC Santa Barbara]."

Bryson has enjoyed the draft circuit, which has included stops with his hometown Sacramento Kings and the Los Angeles Lakers. Bryson played with Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak's son, Maxwell, last season. Bryson may be an under-the-radar prospect, but he enjoyed his time in Philly with the Sixers' staff.

"It's been a really fun time," Bryson said. "Those two workouts (in Sacramento and Los Angeles) were extremely fun. This workout, [Philadelphia's] a beautiful city, beautiful gym. The atmosphere here is extremely go-lucky, that's something I really enjoy."