Craig Brackins has dutifully been working on all aspects of his game - his handle, perimeter shooting, and his uppercut, just to name a few.
Entering his second year with the Sixers, Brackins has been a regular working out at the Sixers practice facility since the season ended. He's also taken up boxing, and we're not talking about rebound drills.
Twice a week, he goes to a gym in Philadelphia and puts on the boxing gloves to adminster and take a few hits. Yet he's not doing it to improve his stock as an enforcer. Brackins feels it helps his agility, among other things.
"It's good for hand-eye, footwork and peripheral vision because have to watch out for punches so it's being aware, cautious," he said on Monday after he worked out at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. "I think it can help on defense, understanding where your man is and where the help is coming from and being more aware."
Having punches thrown at you is bound to help awareness. Brackins is 6-foot-10 and 230 pounds, but the question begged to be asked - has he been beaten up yet?
"No, not really," he said. "If I am messing up or if my hands are downhill he will swing a punch so its fun. It's all fun."
We can think of several thousand ways to have more fun than that, but it speaks to the commitment that Brackins has to make a greater impact.
As a rookie he appeared in just three games with the Sixers, but spent three stints totaling 18 games in the D-League where he averaged 20.1 points, 8.6 rebounds and 1.9 assists in 37.6 minutes.
Brackins is working on getting stronger and looking for any extra edge. While he enjoyed being in the NBA, now his goal is to make a meaningful contribution. He feels his rookie season which only consisted of 33 NBA minutes was still a great learning experience.
"I am glad I went through it," he said. "I got my eyes opened to a lot of things."
One only hopes he won't get them closed by taking one too many left hooks in his boxing workouts. At the very least he has gained a great appreciation for the athletes who put on the gloves.
"I got a whole new perspective on what they have to do," he said about boxers.
And still, Brackins attends the workout, realizing he has a big fight for minutes and is willing to do what it takes to improve his standing on the Sixers.
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