After inking their #1 priority this off-season Thaddeus Young and veteran Tony Battie to new deals, the Sixers have continued to lock up players for the 2011-12 season. This years draft picks, #16 overall pick Nikola Vucevic (Center – USC) and #50 overall pick Lavoy Allen (PF – Temple), were signed on Friday and attended the team's first day of training camp. Both players are considered pretty raw for the most part and will need to take the time to learn from Coach Collins and teammate Elton Brand in order to adjust to the NBA game. Vucevic, the 6'10 Swiss-born Serbia-Montenegro native, spent his his time during the lockout playing overseas. It should take some time for him to adjust to the speed of the NBA and to improve defensively, but despite being a foreign-born player his English is very good from his time spent at USC, this will make his transition a little easier. For Lavoy Allen, Temple's all-time leading rebounder (1,147), he needs to show a spark immediately in order to make the 2011-12 final roster. Allen, who spent his locked out offseason playing in France, was a second round pick meaning his contract is not guaranteed. Despite having just signed a contract, this makes his situation a little more uncertain in a pretty full, but not established Sixers front court. Coach Doug Collins wants his big men exhibit toughness and vigor, to rebound and defend relentlessly. This was evident last year in the lack of minutes received by PF/C Marreese Speights, who everyone is still waiting on to live up to his first-round draft pick status (#16 2008 – Florida). If Allen wants to make this team, he needs to play like a mad man in the paint and go after rebounds with the same ferocity that he did playing in North Philly for his four years at Temple. **Personally I'd like to see them get rid of Speights, who is due over $5 million over the next two seasons. They could use the amnesty clause on him this year to free up cap space, and free up more minutes for Vucevic and even Allen who will hopefully provide some defensive toughness and athleticism. Traits that Speights doesn't show.**
They also added four free agents to the training camp roster:
1. Antonio Anderson – (6'10, 210 lbs. – Memphis) Anderson earned Conference USA All-Defensive team honors in 3 of his 4 years at Memphis. He was un-drafted in 2009 and spent the last two seasons playing in the D-league, in 2009 he was with the Bobcats and in 2010 he was with the Rockets. He has played in 80 games in the NBDL.
2. Dwayne Jones – (6'11, 248 lbs. – St. Joe's) Jones, un-drafted in 2005, has had several stints in the NBA over the past five seasons, with Boston, Cleveland, Charlotte, and Phoenix. Last season he spent time playing in China and Puerto Rico and has played over 100 games in the NBDL.
3. Mike Tisdale – (7'1, 248 lbs. – Illinois) Tisdale went un-drafted following this years NBA draft. After four years at Illinois, he was named All- Big Ten honorable mention his senior year. He has the school record for games played (139) and shot a 53.5 FG % during his college career. He has played in four games in the NBDL with the 76ers "minor league" team, the Maine Red Claws.
4. Xavier Silas – (6'4, 205 lbs. – N. Illinois) Silas, whose father James played over 700 games in the NBA/ABA and is a friend of Coach Doug Collins, went un-drafted after his four years at Northern Illinois. During this summer's lockout he spent his time playing in France. At N. Illinois, he led the Mid-American Conference in scoring (22.3 ppg) and shot a 45.9 FG%, 41.3% from 3 point range, and 85.1% from the charity stripe.
**This sets the training camp roster at 15. Spencer Hawes is the only player not in camp, who would set the roster at 16. Who knows which if any of these new players have a shot at making the roster, but the same could be said at this time last year for Jodie Meeks who spent most of the 2010-11 season in the starting lineup. I'd like to see if Silas, a proven scorer, could find a roster spot as a 3rd or 4th guard option off the bench (behind Holiday, Williams, Meeks, and a mix of Turner/Iguodala in the rotation)**
- Nikola Vucevic talking about his transition to the NBA, his offseason, and playing with Elton Brand and under Coach Collins. Notice how good his English is, a problem that can often hold back foreign-born players from developing quickly. Link
- Doug Collins talks about this years roster. He talks about how impressed he has been with the professionalism of Andre Iguodala, refers to Evan Turner as a "completely different player" from this time last year, about his exuberance of having Thaddeus Young back and his first impressions of the rookies. He emphatically admires the physical attributes of rookies Lavoy Allen and Xavier Silas. Link.
- Lou Williams talks about his role and the chance the team has to be successful this season. He also discusses his offseason activities, including his time spent with Team Philly and his charity organization. Link.