Sixers' Wayns not letting bench get him down

RON CORTES / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Nick Young reacts after tying the game with a three-point shot late in the fourth quarter.
RON CORTES / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Nick Young reacts after tying the game with a three-point shot late in the fourth quarter.
Posted: November 21, 2012

MAALIK WAYNS was all the talk during 76ers training camp as he opened coaches', players' and fans' eyes with his lightning-quick speed that led to successful forays to the basket. The Villanova product also proved to be a good shooter from deep and gave the team an extra gear that few others could provide.

But the preseason is a time when veterans are still finding their legs, when the game is a bit slower than during the 82-game real season, and seeing much more than a dummy-downed version of the game is rare.

So while Wayns' preseason was noteworthy, it was just that. Finding time when the games count has become very difficult for the Roman Catholic grad. But his head remains high, his eyes wide-open and his mind absorbent.

"I feel pretty good and I'm a young guy," he said. "Every day I get extra shots up with coach [Aaron] McKie - me, Arnett [Moultrie] and a couple of other guys. I'm taking my time. I'm getting better every day and learning more and more."

What would seem to be holding Wayns from more playing time would be a couple of things. First there is the play of Jrue Holiday, who is playing near All-Star level with 18.6 points and 8.6 assists per game. Second, Doug Collins prefers to play veterans over rookies, and in Royal Ivey he has a point guard who has seen everything the NBA has to offer.

There could be another factor, but when asked, Collins was coy. "He's seen the preacher, he's seen the reverend." When asked who the preacher was, Collins said "I am," and left it at that.

"This is all part of the NBA," Wayns said. "I've got a lot of great players in front of me. Jrue Holiday is playing like an All-Star right now, Royal brings something to the court. I'm just waiting my turn and for my opportunity, whether that's in practice or if that's pumping guys up on the bench.

"I'm blessed to be in this situation. I'm on a great team, playing for a great coach in my own city. I really have no complaints. I'm learning a lot, a whole lot. I'm learning a lot from Jrue, even though he's young he's been in the league for 4 years. Thad helps me a lot, J-Rich, all those guys help me a lot. They tell me to stay ready and that's what I'm trying to do."

He sees the big picture, not the fact that he played only 21 minutes in the first 10 games of the season. It is that attitude that helps him carry on.

"If you're a good person in this league, I think you can have a pretty good career," Wayns said. "If you come early, stay late, keep a good attitude, be a good teammate, you can have a successful career in this league. Everybody can't be a superstar. Everybody can't be a $50 million-type player. There's a place for role players in this league. I'm a gym rat. I've been that way since Villanova, I was always the first one in the game and the last one to leave. I'm used to it. It's a little different not playing, but it's fine, I'm taking it all in and getting better every day."

On the shooting

Though his team has had some bad shooting games, Doug Collins isn't concerned. "We're shooting 41 percent as a team," he said. "We're shooting 39 percent from three, which if adjusted is up to 58 percent. So we can shoot. What we've got to do is we've got to run the plays better, we've got to execute better and we have to take fewer contested shots. If we do that, our percentage will go up and our scoring will go up."

Hairy Turner

After Tuesday's shootaround, Evan Turner met with reporters scratching something that may be construed as a beard.

"No shave November and Decembeard," Turner said. "I'm going to let it go until Jan. 1."

No doubt hockey fans are smiling.

" @BobCooney76

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