Backup Sixers making starters work at camp
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Maalik Wayns may not have heard his name called on draft night last spring, but he is hearing his name plenty during Sixers training camp, and it is all complimentary.
“He gives us an added dimension of speed,” Doug Collins said. “He’s a guy you can put in the game and all the sudden you can change the pace of the game, which I like. I like when guys have different roles, and he can definitely do that. He’s tough, he’s a good defender and our guys like him, he’s earned their respect quickly.”
“Maalik, I call him a pit bull because he gets after it and he is strong, he’s energetic, he’s young,” Royal Ivey said. “He turns up the practice, and I just follow suit with his intensity and energy.”
Wayns and Ivey have accepted the challenge of defending Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner daily as if it were Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
“You have to bring that energy, you have to make guys better in practice,” Ivey, an eight-year pro, said. “People don’t understand how we can affect the game and affect teammates. For me, just staying on top of a guy like Jrue, he’s real passive and real reserved. That is his personality, but we are trying to get the most out of him because I know he has a world of talent. He can be as good as he wants to be but he has to turn on that switch.”
Ivey spent the previous two seasons in Oklahoma City, where he did for Russell Westbrook what he intends to do for Holiday. Coincidentally, each of the last two seasons Westbrook was named to the All-Star team.
Ivey has started 109 games in his career, but none of those starts have come in the last four years. He accepts a backup role at this stage in his career. Wayns, on the other hand, is just starting out and his future is undetermined. But right now, everywhere Turner and Holiday turn, Ivey and Wayns are there.
“That is just going to make us better,” Holiday said. “You don’t usually see guys pressuring like that, maybe at the beginning of the year and in the playoffs, that’s when the pressure picks up again. But going against that everyday and seeing a body there right when you turn someone is there. That’s going to make it a lot easier for us throughout the year.
“They are quick, fast, good reactions, tough, strong,” Holiday summed up. “Again that is just going to help us going up against some of the tougher stronger guards like a Tony Allen.”
Wayns’ speed certainly stands out. Holiday has seen NBA point guards for three years and he put Wayns’ quickness in the company of John Wall, Derrick Rose and Westbrook. Wayns himself has been surprised that his speed is superior to that of his teammates.
“I thought when I got to the NBA I would be an average speed kind of guy,” Wayns said. “But I guess my quickness is above average.”
There is a tendency for people to shorten the names of others. Andre Iguodala was often referred to as Dre. Just a couple days into training camp, Collins is already referring to Andrew Bynum as Drew. The problem is there is a another Jrue on the team, and so it is hard to keep straight who exactly he is talking about in the course of conversation.
So Collins came up with a solution. He decided to pronounce the "J" in Holiday’s name which is supposed to be silent. No word yet on how Holiday likes being called "Jarue."E-mail Dei Lynam at email@example.com