White expected to make his Sixers debut against Celtics
After missing European trip because of his anxiety disorder, Sixers are hopeful of seeing what he can do on the court.
AT BEST, forward Royce White will be able to provide much-needed bulk down low for the 76ers by throwing around his 6-9, 270-pound frame for a lineup that is devoid of much brute strength in the post. Ideally, he would get to the basket, draw fouls and create space for other players.
He also would use his good ballhandling abilities and deft passing skills to create mismatches at the offensive end, a part of the game in which the Sixers could use any advantages they can find. A poor man's Charles Barkley-type, if you can imagine it.
Of course, there are shortcomings in the game of White, who was chosen No. 16 overall by the Houston Rockets in 2012. His offensive game away from the basket is nearly non-existent and he is a defensive liability. Most notable is his anxiety disorder. He said at training camp that sometimes it causes him not to eat. It is a big reason he didn't play for the Rockets last season, as the two sides battled as to how they might rectify the problem. White wanted to be able to travel by car whenever possible, thus missing game-day shootarounds. A compromise was never reached, until he became a Sixer. White said in training camp that the plan is for him to travel by plane when he has to and drive to cities when possible.
Last week, a couple of days before the team was getting ready to embark on its two-game European trip, White didn't hesitate when asked whether he was going to be a part of it.
"That's the plan," he said. The plan was scratched, however. White didn't accompany the squad on the trek that went from Philadelphia to Bilboa, Spain, to Manchester, England, and back to Philly. A team official said White "was given a pass" from the team's only trans-Atlantic flight of the season.
Not a big deal to miss two preseason games, especially if it was a relief to White not to have to board all those flights. Whether there is a bigger problem with flying remains to be seen. What will be seen tomorrow night at the Bob Carpenter Center at the University of Delaware in Newark will be White's debut when the Sixers host the Boston Celtics in preseason game No. 3. His premiere just might be intriguing enough to make Sixers fans forget about the flying issues and instead concentrate on the multidimensional forward.
Putting the travel issues aside, should White get into playing shape after seeing action in only 16 NBA Development League games last season and should he play to his potential, the Sixers might have gotten a steal in getting him in the offseason for basically nothing from Houston. He certainly will have ample opportunity for playing time, as the Sixers' front line is without depth. His play in camp earned daily praise from teammates and raised the eyebrows of coach Brett Brown.
"I see a talented player that is wildly creative, wants to do everything," Brown said. "We want to put him in a real clean role initially and then let him use his creative instincts, but it's based again on his fitness. He's very talented, different talented. He's like DeJuan Blair, when we coached him in San Antonio. He had a different feel for the game - passing, running, creative. I see similarities with Royce."
Blair, now with the Mavericks, carved a nice 4-year career for himself with San Antonio, having started 166 of 288 regular-season games and posted career averages of 7.8 points and 5.8 rebounds in 18.9 minutes a game. He has proved a very serviceable backup. That probably wouldn't be a bad goal for White.
The team arrived home from Europe around 4 a.m. yesterday and had the day off. The Sixers will practice for the first time at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine today in preparation for the game against the Boston Celtics. Training camp before the European trip was at Saint Joseph's . . . The team will play five more preseason games before opening the season at home against the Miami Heat on Oct. 30. After Boston, the Sixers will host Brooklyn on Monday at 7 p.m. at the Wells Fargo Center.