Seltzer's Notebook | Excitement for Season, Second Unit Outlook, Backcourt Praise
Excitement Embraced Ahead of Regular Season
Judging by the large media contingent that showed up to cover Monday’s practice at the 76ers’ training complex, excitement for the start of the regular season seems to be running high.
Brett Brown and his players are eager to get going, too.
“I like the preparation that we’ve had,” Brown said Monday. “The group has been great. Their fitness base is excellent, they’ve worked hard to come in with the bodies that we’ve asked for. I’m just excited to start the season.”
Joel Embiid, who totaled 27 points and 14 rebounds in 29 minutes of pre-season action, said he welcomes the attention that the team is receiving in advance of Wednesday’s opener at Washington.
“I love it, I embrace all that,” said Embiid. “I love the pressure. I just love the excitement.”
And once the 2017-2018 campaign does finally begin, the big man expects supporters of the Sixers to approve of the brand of hoops they see.
“Fans should be happy,” he said. “Basketball is definitely going to be fun. I think the games are going to be amazing. I can’t wait to hear the first ‘Trust the Process’ chants. It’s going to be exciting.”
Especially if the Sixers are capable of building off the momentum they generated while closing out the preseason with back-to-back wins.
“I think the team is ready,” said Dario Saric. “The last two pre-season games we did well. I think we have our chance to play good in Washington, and I hope we’ll do that.”
Second Unit Standing Out
The Sixers figure to be the beneficiaries of a deeper bench on the heels of an off-season that saw the team’s talent pool increase.
To start the year, the stable of second-stringers is expected to be anchored by Amir Johnson, T.J. McConnell, and Dario Saric. Brett Brown said he likes the energy, toughness, and experience level of the unit.
“T.J.’s got a great motor, Dario’s got a great heart,” he said. “I think you can paint a picture of that second group, and deliver some accurate positives.”
“Everyone just plays hard,” said McConnell, when discussing the Sixers’ reserve corps. “[They’re] high energy guys, and great guys, too. We all like playing for each other, so that’s huge.”
“I think our second unit can be really good,” said Saric, who posted 14.3 points and 6.7 rebounds per game in the preseason. “Most of the guys who played last year together, I think we have big chemistry. I think we got some responsibility to play good, and I think we will do that.”
Guards Draw Praise
A couple members of the Sixers’ backcourt rotation drew noteworthy praise following Monday’s practice.
About Markelle Fultz, Joel Embiid said, “I love him. Since he got here, I’ve been hanging out with him a lot, almost every day. We’re really close. I just like the fact he’s always quiet, he’s shy, and doesn’t say much, but he can play. He can definitely play. I like the fact that he’s humble.”
The big man also sounded willing to shoulder part of the responsibility for bringing the 19-year old rookie guard along this season.
“We’ve got to help him, me personally I got to help him, to reach the potential that he has,” said Embiid.
Jerryd Bayless was also a topic of conversation Monday. He and Ben Simmons had opportunities to play alongside each other down the stretch of the Sixers’ exhibition slate, and enjoyed some quality moments together.
Simmons thinks he and the 29-year old Bayless are developing an effective rapport.
“We’ve had a great relationship since he came here,” said Simmons. “We’re pretty close. We’re still learning, so our chemistry on the court is pretty good.”