Game Preview | Drew II Ready for Latest Opportunity
With T.J. McConnell currently away from the team for personal reasons, the 76ers turned to a familiar face for reinforcement.
Larry Drew II has been a professional for five years. During that time, the 6-foot-2, 180-pound point guard has surfaced with the Sixers on several occasions.
Back in 2014-2015, Drew II logged 12 appearances with the team, doing so on a pair of 10-day contracts. The Sixers turned again to a 10-day contract Tuesday to acquire the services of the 27-year old.
Likely to be without not only McConnell in Wednesday’s home match-up with the Chicago Bulls (7:00 PM EST; NBC Sports Philadelphia, 97.5 FM The Fanatic / Sixers Radio Network), but Jerryd Bayless (left wrist) and JJ Redick (left leg) as well, Brett Brown was hopeful Bryan Colangelo would make a backcourt roster addition who could be counted on.
The executive granted his head coach’s wish.
“He’s been with me before,” Brown said Tuesday, when discussing Drew II. “He’s good, he’s solid, he’s a true point guard. He was a natural request from my side when these other injuries and circumstances happened.”
In the time that’s elapsed between his two separate stints with the Sixers, Drew II has honed his craft in the NBA G League, playing in 122 games for the Miami Heat G League affiliate in Sioux Falls since turning pro in 2013.
That fall, Drew II spent training camp with Miami. He was back in camp with the Heat this year, on the heels of a successful summer league run with the Sixers.
After catching up with coaches and players Tuesday during a “maintenance day” at the Sixers’ training complex, Drew II told reporters he felt like he was “back at home.”
“They welcomed me back with open arms, and I’m glad to be back, to say the least,” he said.
In six outings with the 2017 edition of the Summer Sixers, Drew II averaged 8.3 points and 5.7 assists per game. He was in South Dakota a few days ago when his agent called to tell him about the Sixers’ offer.
Drew II quickly prepared to head East, ready to pursue his latest opportunity.
“I’m older now, a little bit more wiser, and I feel like I’ve gotten a lot better since the last time I was here,” said Drew II, who went undrafted following a five-year NCAA career that saw him transfer from North Carolina to UCLA.
Citing maturation and improved poise, Drew II believes he’s evolved into a better player. The expectations for his second go-round with the Sixers were spelled out to him Tuesday by Brown. Drew II absorbed the message, then told the head coach, “[You] have the man for the job.”
What were the marching orders?
“Come in, run the team, be a leader, get guys shots, and take your open jumpers if you have them,” said Drew II, recalling the conversation.
There was one other not-so-insignificant thing Brown mentioned, too.
The matter was understandably fresh on Brown’s mind Tuesday, after the Sixers endured a tough 105-101 loss at Memphis the previous night. The Sixers had been up by as many as 15 points, but surrendered 10 turnovers in the fourth quarter that directly led to 20 extra points for the Grizzlies.
“It’s tough when you give up leads like that, especially in the fourth quarter, on the road,” said Drew II. “It never feels good, but you got to learn from that. That’s why they brought me in.”
Brown indicated Tuesday that it was likely Drew II will see time Wednesday versus Chicago.
The Chicago Bulls (18-29) might have started the season in rocky fashion, dropping 20 of their first 23 contests, but since then, they’ve come a long ways. Keyed by a seven-game early-December surge that included a 117-115 triumph over the Sixers, Chicago has reversed its fortunes amidst a current 15-9 stretch. Prior to falling to the New Orleans Pelicans Monday in double-overtime, the Bulls had prevailed in four of five appearances, its lone loss a 7-point home defeat to the Golden State Warriors. Lauri Markkanen, acquired on draft night in the trade that sent Jimmy Butler to Minnesota, is enjoying a quality rookie campaign, averaging 15.5 points and a team-best 7.7 rebounds, while hitting 103 3-pointers. Zach LaVine, part of the same deal, returned to action five games ago following his recovery a torn ACL.
• Video: NBC Sports Philadelphia / NBC Sports app
• Audio: 97.5 FM The Fanatic / Sixers Radio Network