76ers want ball in Jrue Holiday's hands

Posted: October 14, 2012

With players such as Andre Iguodala and Lou Williams gone, the 76ers will put the ball in Jrue Holiday's hands a lot more than they did last season.

"Last year we had three or four guys who could handle the ball," Sixers coach Doug Collins said after the team's practice Friday afternoon at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. "In many instances, Jrue would give the ball up and get off the ball. Then maybe Lou might handle it, or 'Dre, or Evan [Turner] might handle it."

But Collins wants Holiday, who scored 27 points in the Sixers' preseason-opening, 102-95 victory in Orlando on Thursday, to be the primary ball handler this season because he believes the Sixers are better when he has the ball. This is not to say that Turner, who often grabs the ball off the defensive boards and turns and goes, will not get those opportunities again. He will.

But the Sixers want Holiday in attack mode as much as possible this season. And part of that requires him to control the ball more extensively and initiate the offense.

"This year we've married a lot more of our action where we want Jrue, anytime he can, to be the guy with the ball," Collins said.

Collins has said that Holiday will also play off the ball when the team goes to a smaller lineup. On Friday, Collins hinted that former Villanova star Maalik Wayns could join Holiday in those situations during the season.

Going into training camp, Collins was not sure who would be the primary point guard coming off the bench. While that is still up in the air - reserve point guard Royal Ivey did not play against Orlando but has had a strong camp - Collins spoke glowingly about Wayns shortly before the team boarded a bus to Atlantic City for Saturday's preseason game with the Brooklyn Nets at Boardwalk Hall.

"With the second unit, Maalik Wayns has taken a huge step," Collins said of the former Roman Catholic High standout who handed out a game-high six assists against Orlando. "So when we were concerned about who that backup point guard might be, Maalik Wayns showed a lot last night."

While Collins is looking forward to facing the Nets, who should be much improved after adding all-star guard Joe Johnson, the coach indicated that he wished the Sixers would face more foes in the preseason from outside the Atlantic Division.

Of their remaining six preseason games, five are against Brooklyn (twice), Boston (twice), and New York. When the regular season begins, the Sixers play three of their first five games against the Knicks (back-to-back) and the Celtics.

"I know that proximity has a lot to do with it, but I wish we wouldn't play those teams in the division as much," Collins said.

Collins does look forward to seeing the Sixers against the Nets' backcourt of Deron Williams and Johnson, acquired in a trade with Atlanta. Together, Williams and Johnson have played in nine All-Star Games.

"We are going to get a dose of some damn good basketball players," Collins said.

Contact John N. Mitchell at jmitchell@philly.com, or follow on Twitter @JmitchInquirer.

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