Richaun Holmes

Richaun Holmes talks Joel Embiid’s work ethic, Sam Hinkie, the Process

Richaun Holmes talks Joel Embiid’s work ethic, Sam Hinkie, the Process

Remember when there was a question of whether Richaun Holmes or Amir Johnson should be the Sixers’ backup center behind Joel Embiid? 

It feels like a long time ago, but it’s only been about a year and a half since the Sixers traded Holmes to the Phoenix Suns. The 26-year-old is now with the Sacramento Kings, and he’d been having the best season of his NBA career (13.1 points, 8.5 rebounds, 1.4. blocks per game) before suffering a torn labrum in his right shoulder.

On Friday, Holmes joined NBC Sports national NBA insider Tom Haberstroh on the Habershow podcast. 

He reflected on his stint with the Sixers, which began in the heart of then-general manager Sam Hinkie’s Process.

Holmes has positive memories of Hinkie.

“Sam was great,” he said. “I remember when I went to sign my contract, I had my entire family with me. He spent time, talked to each one of my family members, got to know them a little bit. I feel like Sam really cared, and Sam took the time to really help me adjust to the NBA.”

The Sixers went 10-72 in the 2015-16 season, Holmes’ rookie year. They didn’t win a game until December.

“It was such a shock,” Holmes said, “and I think it was a shock to all of us on that team because we were all trying to find our place, find our way in the league, and we didn’t really know what the NBA had in store for us. 

“And so going out there and realizing so early how hard it was to win in this league, it just made you want to work even harder to make sure that you stick. I think going through that experience shaped and molded my NBA career into the player that I am now.”

Holmes said he’s still guided by his personal definition of the Process.

I think the Process means continuing to trust your work — trust the work you put in daily,” he said. “You might not get the results right off hand — like I said, we were losing just about every night. But I just remember the team working so hard individually to make ourselves better. I think that’s just something we knew — if we continue to put work in, the results will come. … And to this day, that’s what I do, continue to work. That’s a process that never gets old.

A constant for Holmes during those early years in Philadelphia was Embiid, who spent his first two NBA seasons sidelined by injury. 

“He was a super hard worker,” Holmes said. “That’s one thing I don’t think people talk about with him enough. He works so hard just to get himself in shape, get himself physically ready to step on the court. He wanted to play so badly every day that I saw him. Behind the scenes, he’s such a hard worker, makes sure he keeps his body right, and he wants to play for a long time — and he takes the precautions.”

You can listen to the full podcast below. The conversation with Holmes begins at 41:50.

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Sixers vs. Kings: 3 storylines to watch and how to stream the game

Sixers vs. Kings: 3 storylines to watch and how to stream the game

The Sixers feel they should be 12-5 and riding a five-game winning streak heading into Wednesday night's matchup against the 7-9 Sacramento Kings.

Instead, they're 11-6 following a series of late-game mishaps in Monday's loss to the Raptors, and looking to start another winning streak.

Here are the essentials for tonight's game: 

When: 7 p.m. ET with Sixers Pregame Live at 6:30 p.m.
Where: Wells Fargo Center
Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Live stream: and the NBC Sports MyTeams app

And here are three storylines to watch: 

‘No one’s Superman’ 

Joel Embiid is coming off the first scoreless performance of his NBA career. He missed all 11 of his attempts from the floor and all three from the foul line Monday night.

“Everybody has down games,” Ben Simmons told reporters. “No one's Superman. It happened tonight, but he's Jo, he's gonna be good.”

Against Sacramento, Embiid will be defended by two former Sixers. Richaun Holmes starts for the Kings and the 26-year-old has opened the season well, averaging 11.4 points, 8.1 rebounds and 1.6 blocks. The Kings use Dewayne Dedmon, a Process era Sixer, off the bench. 

Embiid was excellent the last time he played Holmes. Though Holmes was a backup at the time for the Suns, Embiid had ample success against him on Jan. 2, scoring 42 points in the Sixers’ 132-127 win over Phoenix. If the Kings follow the Raptors’ blueprint, Embiid will see plenty of double teams tonight.

An interesting trend 

Over their last eight games, the Sixers are 14th in the NBA in turnovers per game with 14.4. That’s a big improvement from their 18.8 turnovers over the first nine games of the season.

The major decrease in turnovers has coincided with a significant decrease in pace — from 103.94 over that opening stretch (10th in the league) to 97.30 since then (29th). 

The best explanation for this trend is the Sixers are forcing fewer turnovers — just 13.5 per game since Nov. 12 — which is leading to fewer opportunities to turn defense into offense, and less chaos in the open floor. There also seems to be a concerted effort to value the ball more in the half court, and to probe for open shots. Finding good looks has often required a lot of effort, too. 

Meanwhile, the Kings haven’t been playing very fast either. They’re 28th in pace this season and are missing speedy point guard De'Aaron Fox because of an ankle injury. 

Beware of Buddy 

Buddy Hield scored 41 points and made 11 three-pointers for the Kings Monday night … and it wasn’t enough. 

The NBA’s Last Two Minute Report said the Celtics' Marcus Smart should have been called for a travel with 33 seconds left. Smart wasn’t, and he hit the go-ahead shot for Boston.

The Sixers will be wary of Hield and a Kings team that’s won seven of 11 games since starting 0-5. 

Hitting the road this week, or wasting away on the couch in a food coma? The perfect time to binge your favorite NBC Sports Philadelphia podcast! Click here for more.

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Sixers put bench under construction, but is second unit now any better?

Sixers put bench under construction, but is second unit now any better?

After a relatively quiet offseason, the Sixers’ roster has suddenly turned into musical chairs over the past few days.

In are Mike Muscala and Jonah Bolden. Out are Justin Anderson, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and Richaun Holmes.

Not exactly earth-shattering moves, but moves nonetheless.

Of course, all of those changes were directed at the Sixers’ bench. That’s because the team already has one of the best starting rotations in the entire NBA. The Sixers’ five-man combination of Ben Simmons, JJ Redick, Robert Covington, Dario Saric and Joel Embiid was plus-21.4 points per 100 possessions in 600 minutes of action together last season.

The reserves were a different story. The Sixers’ bench was among the league’s worst scoring-wise in 2017-18 before buyout veterans Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova pumped life into the group. With that duo on the squad, the Sixers posted a 20-3 record to close out the regular season and made quick work of the Miami Heat in the first round of the playoffs.

Those results changed against the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinals. The Sixers’ bench was exposed defensively and smothered on offense in the five-game series.

“I’ve said on record, and I’ll say it again, I believe that anything that kind of matters, you’re probably going to bump into the Celtics,” Brett Brown said during the Sixers’ exit interviews. “So they’re always going to be sort of on our mind in relation to how do you compete with them?”

Competing with the Celtics and beating them are two very different things.

Did the Sixers’ tinkering with their bench put them any closer to knocking off their longtime rival? That’s a tough one to answer right now.

Despite shipping away Anderson, Luwawu-Cabarrot and Holmes, you can argue that the Sixers’ second unit will still be more athletic next season. A fully healthy Markelle Fultz will likely start out as the sixth man, and we know he’s got some incredible bounce to his game. Zhaire Smith already gave a glimpse of what type of athlete he is during summer league. And while 31 years old, Wilson Chandler can still rise up to throw it down.

Defensively is where that athleticism should really shine for the latter two. The rookie Smith has continually said defense is his best skill as he was named to the Big 12 All-Defensive team during his lone season at Texas Tech. Chandler possesses the ability to defend both forward spots and takes pride on that end of the floor.

Meanwhile, Muscala and Bolden aren't anywhere near leapers of Holmes' caliber. However, they are still bigger bodies that have the ability to move their feet to keep up with their man. That’s in addition to known hustlers T.J. McConnell and Amir Johnson putting forth their maximum effort guarding opponents.

But is that enough when a healthy Celtics team gets its projected roster back and rolls out a reserve lineup of Terry Rozier, Marcus Smart, Semi Ojeleye, Marcus Morris and Aron Baynes?

If the Sixers are unable to contain Boston’s talented starters and deep reserve blend, they might really run into problems trying to keep pace with offense of their own now that they lack a serious three-point threat outside of Redick. Belinelli and Ilyasova, who both departed moments into free agency, gave the team a one-two punch off the bench that could drain shots from anywhere. Now the only serviceable shooter in a backup role is the 6-foot-11, 240-pound Muscala (a career 37.8 percent shooter from long range). Kyle Korver, anyone?

The bench reset was necessary if the Sixers planned on getting to the next level. Is it enough to put them on the same level as the Celtics or will they remain green with envy?

We’ll see.

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