Watching scrimmages of the Philadelphia 76ers shuffling up and down the hardwood at Hagan Arena on the campus of Saint Joseph’s University, you could say that the “new-look” Sixers, as they’ve been called, are becoming more physical and emphatic.
Numerous players have come into training camp with a different type of mentality than that of last year. At the beginning of the 2011-2012 NBA regular season there was a feeling of being rushed through a sixty-six game season, as opposed to now, where there is a calm before the storm brewing over the Wells Fargo Center in South Philadelphia.
One of the players showing a bevy of modifications is small forward and fan favorite Thaddeus Young. Remember the undersized 6-foot-8, 212 lb, forward from Georgia Tech a season ago? Well, he has since transformed into a muscular behemoth, weighing in at almost 235 lbs at the beginning of training camp.
A more confident player leads the Sixers this season at the guard position, and that’s the 22-year-old youngster and former UCLA Bruin Jrue Holiday. After being placed on the training squad for Team USA this summer, Holiday plays with much more confidence, something that’s tangible even from the stands of Hagan Arena at Saint Joe’s. Holiday is playing less like one of the youngest starting guards in the NBA, and more like a seasoned veteran capable of bringing an offensive increase statistically this upcoming season.
With the Sixers only bringing back five players from the previous season, there is a hunger and desire at training camp to find a place in a very competitive roster.
The current roster contains a smattering of veterans such as, guard Jason Richardson, forward Dorell Wright, big man Kwame Brown, as well as Mikki Moore, the big man who use to lead the league in field goal percentage. There is also an excess of young players full of quickness and athleticism like 6-foot-1 rookie guard Maalik Wayns and rookie forward Arnett Moultrie, who the Sixers acquired from the Miami Heat.
Among the other players who will add sparks off the bench when it comes to three-point shooting among other stats, this revitalized Sixers team is hungry and looking for redemption from, what Philadelphia fans would call, an early exit in the 2012 NBA playoffs. Coach Doug Collins will see a team that will still play with speed but also will give you that added kick in the teeth defensively and on the boards on both ends of the court.
Looking now at a new version of not only a highly competitive Atlantic Conference, but also the Eastern Conference in the NBA, the Sixers have a long, hard road ahead, but are perfectly capable of making the journey down the basketball highway.
“Guys are starting to find their way and I like that their playing with confidence,” Collins said.
And with that confidence comes a bigger desire to win this season.
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