Along with Spencer Hawes, one of the bright spots recently for the Philadelphia 76ers has been veteran swingman Damien Wilkins. After playing his first five years with Seattle/Oklahoma City Thunder, Wilkins has bounced around four different teams in the last four years: Minnesota Timberwolves, Atlanta Hawks, Detroit Pistons and now Philadelphia.
He started the year as just another guy on the end of the bench. The revolving door known as the starting shooting guard position began with Jason Richardson, who was serviceable until he went down with a knee injury.
Then it became Nick Young, who was decent until he went down with an ankle injury and has been buried deep in Doug Collins’ doghouse since. Next, Royal Ivey was given his chance at the two. He showed the ability to hit the open three, but not much else.
With the Sixers’ playoff chances rapidly approaching zero, Collins decided it was time to give Wilkins a shot at the starting two guard, and it has paid off. Wilkins has started the last 12 games, and the Sixers have gone 7-5 in that stretch. Wilkins has averaged 13 points while shooting 54 percent from the field during that stretch.
More importantly, he has brought defense and intensity to a starting unit that has struggled with effort outside of the hustle king Thaddeus Young.
Wilkins has always been known for his tough defense, but has recently demonstrated the ability to knock down the open shot and get to the free throw line. Outside of the Denver game where his foul of Corey Brewer on a 3-point shot with his team up two cost them the game, Wilkins has been great.
With a few more performances like this down the stretch, there’s no doubt Damien Wilkins will earn himself a roster spot next season. Hopefully this will be the first time in four years he can call a city “his home.”