THE SHOUTS start out quietly and then get louder and louder as the practice moves on and the shots go down. "Layup. Layup."
Dorell Wright already has gained so much confidence from his 76ers teammates on his outside shooting that each and every time he hoists one of his patented treys, the cries ring out. It brings a smile to Wright's face when talking about it, but he also finds it puzzling as to why his teammates chose him.
"They call layup with me; well those guys can shoot the ball crazy, too," he said after Thursday's morning session of training camp at Saint Joseph's, speaking of teammates Jason Richardson and Nick Young. "I told Jason the first day that I really appreciate him because the year I led the league in threes he was second. I was always keeping close to what he was doing and he made me better."
Wright was referring to two seasons ago when, as a member of the Golden State Warriors, he led the league by making 194 of 516 from three-point range, good for 37.6 percent. Richardson made the second most in the league that season with the Orlando Magic, going 189-for-479 (39.5 percent). As an example of just how good of a season those two had that year, compare their combined numbers (383-for-995, 38.5 percent) to the three-point numbers by the Sixers team last season (349-963, 36.2 percent) and you get a good idea why coach Doug Collins and the rest of the team is excited about the new weapon at their disposal.
"The one thing is those three new guys [Wright, Richardson and Young] they're picking things up quickly, which is great," said Collins. "We have more stuff in after 2 days then I could have ever imagined.
"A lot of what we did [last year] was we wanted to be able to get those kinds of outside shots, it's just that with our personnel, they weren't comfortable shooting a lot of those. I think this year those guys are all comfortable spacing the floor. After the first day I looked at what we were doing with our transition a little bit and I didn't like it so I tweaked it because I wanted the ball in Jrue's [Holiday] hands more so we did some different things and I thought our guys really liked that. And there's so much more spacing. These guys just know where to get on the floor - J-Rich and Nick and Dorell - because that's what they brought to their teams.
"The thing I like, too, is that they've all played with post players, with a big post. Last year I think we averaged 30 points a game from the three-point line and free-throw line. We'd like to get that to 40 if we could - plus 10 of what we were. We think we can average seven or eight three-pointers a game, which would be a huge thing for us."
Those numbers, of course, were calculated with Andrew Bynum roaming the middle. He will be out a few more weeks rehabbing his knee, so for now the shooting trio is getting used to their new teammates with whom they can share the floor at training camp.
"Everything is going great," said Richardson, who appears to have the starting shooting-guard spot secured. "We've got a group of guys who are working hard. We have a great coaching staff that's teaching us a lot of stuff. It's coming as a blur because we have so many new guys but I think the chemistry is coming along fine.
"I tell them where I am, but we're just figuring it out. We've got so many guys on this team who can shoot the ball - Nick and Dorell, those guys have been in the league for a while and they've been pretty good shooters in their career; myself. I think it's making it easier for everybody else to know where we're going to be, know where we like the ball. I'm picking Andrew's head [telling him], 'When it goes into the post we'll slide out of the way. I'm going to get to the top of the key. You do your work and if you get stuck, get it out to me and I'll either put it up or get it back to you.' "
It's all a process, of course, getting to know one another and how everyone will gel. But for now, Collins sees nothing but positives.
"Percentage-wise I think our best three-point shooter was Dre [Andre Iguodala] last year," said Collins. "It's just he wasn't a guy who was going to take a lot of them. It could be that J-Rich takes four or five and Dorell and Nick . . . so it's going to be more volume three-point shooters. If we could shoot 38 percent from three and then all of the sudden you put yourself in the upper echelon of teams and then we have a post player that can we can post with . . . We would like to be a team with more points in the paint, more points behind three and fewer two-point field goals outside the paint.
"Last year we were a big medium-range shooting team because that's what we were comfortable doing. I'm hoping this year that we can be a team that can shoot the ball more from distance. We think if Dorell Wright and Nick and J-Rich are behind that three-point line, guys don't want to leave them - especially in the corners. Teams like San Antonio have made their living off that through the years, being able to play pick and roll and post and getting to the corners. Our guys are very comfortable doing that. Those guys have been really great additions to our team. They're great teammates, they're high-character guys. And it seems they're all really happy to be here and the way we're doing things, so that's a positive."
The team had a light morning practice, mostly doing individual drills. The night practice was hard, with a scrimmage at the end . . . Lavoy Allen was excused for the day because his girlfriend gave birth to their first child, a boy . . . Spencer Hawes, a huge fan of politics, firmly declared Mitt Romney the winner of Wednesday's debate: "I think it went well for him and for the first time he went on the offensive," said Hawes. Asked if there's a lot of political interest among his teammates, Hawes said, "I think any time it gets to this time of the year and it's so relevant and now with the social media, any time you go on there it's eating up the timeline. Any time you get to this point every 4 years, it becomes a talking point" . . . Former Eagles receiver and current announcer Mike Quick was at Hagan Arena at Saint Joseph's to take in the morning session.