FOLLOWING THE 76ers' 3-hour workout last night in Hagan Arena at Saint Joseph's, coach Doug Collins kind of threw into the mix that the starting shooting guard, presumed by many to be Evan Turner this season instead of incumbent Jodie Meeks, hasn't been determined.
Collins spoke well of both players, lauding Meeks' ability to fit in with the starters, as his shooting opens lanes for the many slashers the team possesses. Turner, according to Collins, is progressing to just where the coach thought he would, hitting more jump shots, rebounding, playing solid defense.
The games of Turner and Meeks are vastly different. It seems whoever finds himself in the starting spot will be there because of how well the team plays around him, not only his individual performance.
"It's just going to be how the team best fits," said Collins, whose club will go through a double session today on Hawk Hill. "I mean, if Lou [Williams] and Thad [Young] don't start, there's not another guy in the world who can be upset about not starting. Those guys have accepted the role that they play for us, how it helps us win. Regardless of who starts at the 'two' spot, the other two guys are shining examples of what we're trying to do.
"Believe in your role. Stay in your role. Star in your role. That's the motto of what we're trying to do. We've got it up on the wall in our locker room. I think when guys do that, when the coaches stay in their roles and the players do, I think everybody thrives."
Point guard Jrue Holiday sees benefits to having either Turner or Meeks at his side in the backcourt.
"Jodie knows that when me or Dre [Iguodala] have the ball to just get out on the wing," Holiday said. "He runs as hard as he can [to get out on the wing], and he's one of the fastest guys on the team and we're looking for him. He definitely has that confidence knowing that we're going to get him the ball.
"I think we can kind of mix it up. We can throw Evan in there, we can throw Jodie in there. I can be out and it can be Jodie, Evan and Dre. I think the dynamic of our team is we just really kind of mesh."
Holiday returned to practice after missing Sunday night's workout with a strained left Achilles'. He showed no signs of trouble during last night's scrimmage.
"I think really once I got warmed up and really got in the flow, I stopped thinking about it. We taped it a different way, so I think we'll just stick with that."
During the scrimmage, a few things stood out: Iguodala's overall play was outstanding. Offensively, there were no forced jumpers from him and he seemed destined to take the ball to the basket off one or two hard dribbles. The few jumpers he did take were open 15- to 18-footers. Williams was the most consistent scorer, hitting many driving layups and a few long-range jumpers. Craig Brackins hit a couple of three-pointers, and Elton Brand really got up and down the floor well. Rookie Nikola Vucevic appeared a little lost. The team left a lot of jumpers short and missed some easy shots inside, probably the result of sore legs.
Collins spoke glowingly of Xavier Silas, one of four free agents invited to camp. Silas, a 6-5 shooting guard from Southern Illinois, averaged 22.3 points and 4.6 rebounds, while shooting 45.9 percent from the floor, including 41.3 percent from three-point range. He can really stroke the ball and plays under control at a high-rate of speed.
"The good part about it is Rod [Thorn] did a good job of getting guys signed, so we can keep him and not be in the luxury tax," Collins said. "That's a young guy that if you feel like he's got potential, you keep him around and develop him. That's what we are. Right now, we're a draft and develop type of franchise. All of the sudden they see our young players, and then these guys who are free agents or guys who are free agents or considered star players say Philadelphia becomes a nice destination because they've got some real nice young players."
The Sixers made it official yesterday, re-signing veteran backup center Tony Battie to a 1-year contract. Battie, 36, appeared in 38 games for the team last season, averaging 2.6 points and rebounds.
Battie should be a big help in the progress of Vucevic, on and off the court. A 13-year veteran who was the fifth overall pick in the 1997 draft, Battie was instrumental in the growth of Dwight Howard when they were teammates in Orlando.
"When the opportunity came up, I had a few offers on the table, but it was a no-brainer to return to Philly," said Battie, who watched practice last night, saying he will return to the floor soon. "It was Doug, Rod, the good camaraderie I have with the guys in the locker room, it just felt like home."
On Vucevic, Battie said: "So far, so good. He's long, he's lengthy, he's got a great skill. He looks like he knows the game very, very well. I'll try to take Nik and Lavoy [Allen] under my wing a little bit, try to show them some things I've learned over the years, and, hopefully, they can use it and become better players faster than normal."