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A Philadelphia 76ers blog, hosted by Christopher A. Vito

Friday, April 18, 2014

Sixers' Michael Carter-Williams earns Rookie of the Month award (again)


The 76ers’ Michael Carter-Williams was named Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for April.

The point guard led all rookies with 17.6 points per game, ranked third with 7.5 rebounds and fourth with 6.4 assists and 32.5 minutes. His .525 field-goal percentage was fifth-best. Carter-Williams helped the Sixers close the season with their first winning streak since Dec. 29-Jan. 4.

Carter-Williams earned four of the six Rookie of the Month awards for the 2013-14 season.

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Sixers' Byron Mullens has mixed emotions about the idea of rebuilding


Byron Mullens is, admittedly, a little salty about the term “rebuilding.”

The fifth-year big man was around for two seasons of Charlotte’s transformation: a 7-59 lockout-shortened campaign in 2011-12, and a 21-61 record in 2012-13. Then the Bobcats opted against picking up Mullens’ option for this season. (He later signed with the Los Angeles Clippers, who traded him to the 76ers at the deadline.)

Now, as Mullens wrapped up a 19-win season with the Sixers, he was left to watch his former team in Charlotte qualify for the playoffs as the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference, with a 43-39 record. And Mullens said he’d prefer not to repeat history.

“It sucked to be in Charlotte. It sucked to be in a rebuilding process,” Mullens said Thursday, when the Sixers conducted end-of-the-year exit interviews at their PCOM practice facility. “What sucked worse was to be in the rebuilding process and not be in the process now that they’re in, in a playoff race and in the playoffs. I’d say, if I’m going to give it my all in the rebuilding process, I’d like to be in it all the way – even after the rebuilding process is over. We’ll see what happens.”

When asked whether he’d like to return for next season, Mullens would not say. He holds a $1.06 million player option, though he could opt out and test free agency.

“We definitely talked about it, and we talked about the options we have with how many draft picks we’ve got in the draft and all of that,” Mullens said, of a discussion he had with Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie. “I’d just like to keep that between me and him, and see what happens. Obviously, everybody knows they have a lot of draft picks. It’ll be interesting to see what happens.

“It’s tough. Me and Sam talked about (rebuilding), as well. My two years in Charlotte, they had a pretty young team. Obviously it was a rebuilding kind of like we have here now. People just have to be patient. It doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a while for young guys. You’re looking at 19-year-old kids playing with grown men. It’s tough. You have to respect it and be patient.”

Two numbers that might work against Mullens moving forward: The Sixers went 0-18 in games in which he played, and 4-4 in games in which he did not appear.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Brett Brown expects "some anxiety" on draft lottery night, says he'll follow lead of Sam Hinkie


MIAMI – The 76ers’ season has come to an end, but prep work for next season is beginning.

A 100-87 win over the Miami Heat Wednesday, closing out the regular season, only calls attention upon the next critical date on the Sixers’ calendar: the NBA Draft lottery, on May 20.

Sixers coach Brett Brown, who had grown accustomed to 50-win seasons in San Antonio said he’ll harbor some jitters that night. He’s fully aware of what hangs in the balance, with the Sixers holding the Nos. 2 and 10 spots in the lottery.

“That night, when you find out where you pick, is a nerve-wracking night for me,” Brown said, after the Sixers’ win. “I don’t remember the last time we’ve been kind of nervous. That night I’ll be nervous. It’s a really important night for the club. We’ll continue moving forward, no matter what happens. I’d be lying if I said it any other way – there will be some anxiety with me.”

Brown said he will follow the lead of Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie, upon whom Brown laid the title “the architect of all of it.”

“I will be led by Sam,” Brown said. “I’ve gone through a very system-oriented process for the past 12 years with an organization that’s proven they’ve made way more good decisions than bad decisions. And that is Sam’s strength. I’ve got faith in Sam. It’s a very large reason why I’m here. I’m going to let him use me how he wants to use me. It’s my nature to immerse myself into it all and be highly opinionated.

“Somewhere out there (are) analytics people and Sam, as the architect of all of it, and coaches will all share in an opinion and the club will roll with it. Ultimately that’s Sam’s responsibility, why he was hired and I’m thrilled to be with him.”

The Sixers (19-63), who finished the year on their first winning streak since winning four in a row between Dec. 29-Jan. 4, will fly out of Miami tonight and conduct exit interviews with coaches and members of the media Thursday.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Tony Wroten trying 'to pick my spots' when it comes to his highlight-reel passes


MIAMI -- Tony Wroten accepts that he has a way of pairing highlight-reel assists with clunker passes that end up in the front row. It’s something Wroten said he’s worked with 76ers coach Brett Brown to curb.

“You pick your spots. Coach always tells me it’s a gift that not a lot of people in this league have,” Wroten said. “I just have to pick my spots and not always go for the home run and just try to get some singles – in baseball terms. That’s what he always says. This season, I learned a lot. I don’t try to make the home runs as much. I try to make the right play.”

Outside of his mistake-prone play – he averages 2.8 turnovers per game – Wroten has impressed in his first season with the Sixers.

Monday against Boston, Wroten had 20 points on 7-for-12 shooting. His seven turnovers nullified the four assists he turned in. Brown seems to think “a high number” of Wroten’s turnovers stem from the pace with which the 20-year-old plays.

Wroten said he’s gotten better at controlling his instinct to make the ‘go for it’ pass that will end up on ESPN’s SportsCenter, though the turnover totals might not reflect that alteration to his game. He said pulling back on that urge was difficult.

“In the beginning, obviously it was,” said Wroten, who’s under contract through next season. “That’s what I’ve been doing all my life. That’s what this process was.”

The Sixers (18-63) had Tuesday free from practice as they traveled to Miami, where they'll finish the regular season with Wednesday's game against the Heat.

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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Sixers' Nerlens Noel says he's "100 percent"

(Christopher A. Vito)

76ers rookie Nerlens Noel is “100 percent,” he said, and while he’d be in favor of appearing in any of the team’s remaining five games, he understands the risk-reward proposition the team is facing with his health status.

Noel has devoted his season to development of his game at every level, as he has been unable to play while rehabbing from a March 2013 surgery to repair the ACL in his left knee. Sixers coach Brett Brown said Noel, who spoke to reporters following Tuesday’s practice, has participated in “a little” 5-on-5 scrimmaging with the team, as well as running plays in half-court sets.

Nonetheless, it’s not game play.

“There’s nothing like experiencing (games) first-hand,” Noel said.

While unavailable to play, Noel has been in the weight room, improving his bench-press limitations. He said he’s increased his vertical leap “by over three inches.” And Brown said Noel has put on “eight to 10 pounds.” Those are all pluses for the 19-year-old Kentucky product.

“Obviously, I do want to play. The 19-year-old in me that’s been sitting down on the sideline really wanted to get out there and show my abilities and be able to play ball,” Noel said. It’s been tough, but something I had to do. I’m definitely looking forward to playing.”

As for playing at some point this season, Noel said that has not been ruled out. His summer plans are not set in stone, either, he said, but he anticipates participating in the Sixers’ summer-league games.

If Noel has to miss the Sixers’ final five games, the next of which is Wednesday at Toronto, the 6-11 center said that would be understandable.

Sam Hinkie is a great GM,” Noel said. “He put me in this position to play for this great city of Philadelphia. I definitely understand where he stands with the risk and the reward. That’s why I’ve been very eager through my competitiveness and wanting to play basketball again. I do understand.”

More to come on Noel…

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