Seltzer's Notebook | Camp Closes, Okafor Encouraged, Blue x White Scrimmage
Brown Exits Camp with Positive Takeaways
The days were jam-packed, but they seemed to zoom by in a blur.
Friday’s almost three-hour long practice marked the fourth and final workout of the formal “training camp” phase of the Sixers’ preseason, which began Tuesday. Brett Brown sounded encouraged by his team’s progress.
“It’s been productive,” Brown said Friday afternoon.
Particularly pleasing to Brown was how smoothly the camp ran, a dynamic that he attributed to the collaborative efforts of a coaching staff with substantial continuity, a young nucleus with carryover from previous seasons, and the incorporation of a contingent of “smart veterans” capable of picking things up quickly.
Brown also felt there was a payoff to all the 5-on-5 pick up the Sixers played in June and September. In Brown’s eyes, these voluntary games helped set the table for the past week, where the team “could come in and have some type of semblance of order, and certainly a fitness base that all equals an efficient four days.”
New in respect to this year’s training camp was that Brown and the Sixers had their state-of-the-art training complex in Camden at their disposal. The building, which started housing the team full-time last October, created an atmosphere for one-stop shopping, in a sense.
Wondering how a typical day of training camp went? Here’s how it worked, as Brown explained it:
Players reported to the Sixers’ facility by 9:30 each morning to have breakfast with teammates, and then would be in film study by 10:00. Next, there was about an hour for recovery, weight training, and individual instruction, before the club would take the floor at 11:20. The practices that ensued lasted roughly two and a half hours.
After that, players received massage therapy, and had the chance to sit down for one final meal as a group. They were usually out the door and on their way home between 3:00 and 3:15 in the afternoon.
Occasionally, there was a team function at night.
Brown considered the schedule effective.
“I haven’t felt the need to rush things through, or get them out quick so that we get something at the back end of it,” Brown said, “and most importantly, I think it’s healthy. For me, and us, we did our work, we didn’t skip steps, and that format works well for me.”
Richaun Holmes, who just completed his third training camp with the Sixers, found the structure of the four-day session to be beneficial. He liked that the team was constantly engaged in activity.
“Every drill, there was a lot of energy, a lot of pop, with guys having that night session to rest,” said the big man. “I think we got more done with more energy, and I think it was successful.”
Okafor Feeling Good
Training camp closed on an auspicious note for Jahlil Okafor. He was a full practice participant Friday, and competed in 5-on-5 scrimmaging.
Afterwards, the slimmed-down center, who adopted a vegan diet this off-season, provided a promising report.
“I feel lighter, I just feel good on the court,” ” said Okafor, the third pick of the 2015 draft.
The Duke product took satisfaction in being able to enjoy the fruits of a summer that was filled with diligent work on and off the court. He also credited the Sixers’ medical and training staffs for helping get him in better shape.
“I’m happy where I’m at right now,” Okafor said.
So is his coach.
“I feel like I’m seeing a sort of advantage for him being thinner,” Brett Brown said of Okafor on Friday. “I think he moves more quickly. I feel like because we’ve been around each other, he gets what I’m saying and understands the structure more quickly, and the combination of both of those things moves him around I think at more of an efficient rate. I think he’s had a good camp.”
Okafor, who’s averaged 14.7 points and 6.0 rebounds in 26.7 minutes per game throughout his first two NBA seasons, was curious to see whether his leaner frame would affect his ability to be physical in the paint. So far, the feedback he’s gotten has been reassuring.
“The guys who’ve kind of felt me down in the paint, they said I still feel solid,” said Okafor. “That’s been my main concern, is if I’ll still be able to hold my own, hold my ground and stuff like that. The guys there said I feel fine, but that’s something I’ll continue to monitor and be able to check to see if I still have my strength.”
Palestra to Provide Test
After completing training camp Friday, the Sixers had their first off-day of the preseason Saturday.
On Sunday, the team will regroup for its Blue x White Scrimmage, which Brett Brown views one of six opportunities for the Sixers to test themselves leading up to their October 18th opener in Washington (the other five being the club’s pre-season games).
“Just the group coming together and playing in a real type of game format, seeing what type of carryover has happened from camp, looking at different line ups and playing different people with each other,” Brown said Friday, when asked about his hopes for Sunday’s scrimmage. “I feel like the thing that is most on my mind, is taking this group, and making it work as quickly as I can.”
Sunday’s event will be held at the Palestra, the iconic, 8,722-seat arena on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania. The building opened in 1927, and Brown has visited it a number of times. He called the venue “something that’s very significant to our basketball world, in this basketball city.”
Also significant about Sunday’s intrasquad competition is that it will not only offer fans an opportunity to see the 2017-2018 pre-season roster in action for the first time, but specifically Ben Simmons. He never had the chance to put on a Sixers uniform and play publicly a year ago.
“I’m just excited to get out there and actually experience it,” Simmons said Friday. “I haven’t really experienced any games, besides from going and watching. This is my first time actually being in front of the fans, and they finally get to see me play.”
Sunday’s Blue x White Scrimmage is scheduled to go from approximately 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm, and will be streamed live.