Daniel Orton aims to make most of chance with 76ers

The Sixers' Daniel Orton and Michael Carter-Williams double team the Raptors' Jonas Valanciunas. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
The Sixers' Daniel Orton and Michael Carter-Williams double team the Raptors' Jonas Valanciunas. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
Posted: November 26, 2013

Daniel Orton is ready - ready to do the little things the 76ers need.

Whether it's setting picks, grabbing rebounds, or defending on the block, the 6-foot-10, 266-pound center said that's what he's going to do.

"I've pretty much always been a team player," Orton said. "I just think that's been my attitude toward everything."

But the fourth-year NBA veteran also realizes that's his only way to secure a roster spot with the Sixers (6-8) beyond this season. Orton signed a non-guaranteed deal Oct. 15, a week after being released by his hometown Oklahoma City Thunder.

It appears that he's beginning to make the most of the opportunity.

The 23-year-old made his third consecutive start Saturday night with Thaddeus Young away following the death of a family member. Orton responded with a season-best 10 points, a career-best 10 rebounds, and two blocked shots while logging the most playing time of his career (35 minutes, 36 seconds).

"He's big and talented and also young," coach Brett Brown said. "You look at the history of Daniel Orton. He's been behind people his whole career, whether it's DeMarcus Cousins [at Kentucky], whether it's Dwight Howard in Orlando. . . . It's that thing that people just need an opportunity and need a chance.

"Maybe we caught him at a right time in his basketball career."

Prior to Saturday, Orton was averaging 2.7 points, 3 rebounds, and 12.3 minutes. He missed two games with right-knee soreness and didn't play in two other games despite being healthy. His second DNP because of coach's decision was on Nov. 18 at the Dallas Mavericks. It was the game before he was inserted into the starting lineup.

"Always staying ready and being ready are probably two of the biggest things I had to learn in this league," Orton said. "That's everything in the NBA."

Orton admitted he didn't realize that when he was the 29th overall pick by the Orlando Magic in 2010 after his freshman season at Kentucky.

The Magic sent him to the New Mexico Thunderbirds of the NBA Development League during his rookie season. Orton suffered a season-ending knee injury in his second game for the Thunderbirds.

He went on to average 2.8 points, 2.4 rebounds, and 11.7 minutes in 16 appearances during his second season with the Magic.

Orton became a free agent after that season and signed with the Thunder in August 2012. He was released that October, and Oklahoma City re-signed him four days later after trading James Harden and Cole Aldrich to Houston.

"I just want to be somewhere longer than two years," he said. "To have a home for a solid four, five, six, seven years is huge for me. Guys in my situation, you bounce around. You don't want to bounce around the league your whole career."

Orton said he wouldn't mind staying in Philadelphia for the foreseeable future. He loves the Sixers fans' passion.

"Just going out and being around the fans, seeing how much they really love it here, it's a good city," Orton said. "I think we can really bring a lot here."


kpompey@phillynews.com

@PompeyOnSixers

inquirer.com/deepsixer

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