After the 76ers worked out five more potential draft picks yesterday at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, second-year forward Craig Brackins spent about an hour with assistant coach Brian James, working on some midrange jumpers and drop steps around the basket.
Brackins also practiced coming off imaginary screens, took passes and fired, mostly from inside the three-point line. He put in repetition after repetition, looking to improve his already impressive outside game and strengthen his interior moves. Perhaps his work ethic will catch the eye of coach Doug Collins and all the higher-ups assembled for the workouts, which will continue with a yet-unnamed group tomorrow.
What Brackins will be able to contribute to the Sixers this upcoming season remains unknown. Acquired in a preseason trade with the New Orleans Hornets, Brackins saw action in only three games last season, splitting his time between being deactivated by the Sixers and playing in the NBA Development League, where he averaged 20.1 points and 8.6 rebounds in 18 games with the Springfield Armor.
Last year was considered a "redshirt" season for Brackins, one in which the team wanted him to build his strength, learn to be a better defender and adapt to the NBA life.
"It's a ton," Brackins said about how much more mature he feels this year over last. "Just taking time and understanding what you've got to do, what works. It just makes the game a whole lot easier."
Brackins' game is that of a hybrid four-man, one who can step out and make long-distance shots, but get inside for rebounds and, hopefully, also score around the basket. The models: Dirk Nowitzki and Kevin Durant.
For now, the 6-10, 230-pounder is working to transform his body into one that can handle the everyday pounding that an NBA season entails.
"I've been working on my game inside the perimeter, my face-up game, post-ups," Brackins said. "Staying off the perimeter outside the three and getting the bread-and-butter stuff [inside moves] down pat. I'm doing strength stuff and agility, taking up boxing. I'm doing a different workout with more conditioning. That's been going great. I give boxers a whole, new perspective for what they do, because it's a whole other workout. It's good for hand-eye, your footwork and your peripheral vision, because you have to watch out for the punches. So it's just being aware. I think that will help me out on defense, understanding where your man is, where the help is coming from.
"Weightwise, if you go by the scale, I'm a pretty good size, but it just doesn't look like it. It's just being stronger. It's more just core strength and strength alone."
If all that comes together, perhaps the Sixers will find that the player they are looking for in the draft is already on their roster.
The "big-name" player working out yesterday was Georgia's 6-10 forward, Trey Thompkins, who early on was projected to be a top-20 pick, but has now fallen out of the first round in most mock drafts. Thompkins said he sees himself being taken somewhere toward the middle of the first round, while Sixers director of player personnel Courtney Witte said Thompkins is definitely a first-round talent.
The Sixers' first pick is at No. 16.
Villanova's Antonio Pena was among the group of five at PCOM, along with Joffrey Lauvergne from France, Lester Prosper from Division III SUNY-Old Westbury and Willie Reed from Saint Louis.
Witte said a "lot of good players" will be at tomorrow's workout, perhaps meaning many rated higher than even Thompkins. *
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