Cheeks commends job Sixers' Brown is doing

ASSOCIATED PRESS Rasheed Wallace now is Detroit's director of player development.
ASSOCIATED PRESS Rasheed Wallace now is Detroit's director of player development.
Posted: December 03, 2013

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. - Sixers legend Maurice Cheeks makes no secret of the fact he keeps an eye on the team for which he played and coached. So when the topic of the 76ers came up yesterday, the first-year Detroit Pistons head man was well-versed.

He also looked like a visionary when he spoke before the game about his Pistons' recent inability to shoot consistently.

"They're going to make them at some point, so I'm not concerned about that," Cheeks said before Detroit made 15 of its first 20 shots in its 115-100 win over the Sixers. "That's what pros do: They usually make shots, and I believe that they will make shots.

"We get looks. We get looks that we should make and I believe at some point we will make them because that's what pros do, they make shots. At some point you go through a stretch and you're not making them and then you go through stretches where you are making them. We'll make them."

That they did yesterday. As for what is going on with the Sixers and new coach Brett Brown, Cheeks said: "He's doing a very good job. His guys play with energy, they play hard, they're very scrappy. He gets a lot out of his players. They seem like they never stop. They just continue playing, continue playing. When you've got players doing that, you give yourself a chance to win every night."

Cheeks, who began his head-coaching career with Portland in 2001, coached the Sixers from 2005 to early in the 2008-09 season. Detroit is his first head-coaching job since then. The Pistons, coming off a 29-53 season, are 7-10.

Wroten learning

As with almost every player on his team, Brett Brown is trying to find the most comfortable and productive spot for Tony Wroten. He toyed with him at shooting guard earlier this season but has settled on backup point guard to rookie Michael-Carter Williams. Brown has to endure some of the mistakes that come with giving a lot of playing time to a 20-year-old, second-year player.

"If you're a point guard, you have to have that mindset [of a point guard]," Brown said. "The thing that I like a lot is he has a mentality to get to the rim at all cost and he's going to bury his head and fling himself into bodies. I love the reckless abandon and I like the mentality.

"But at some point there has to be an intellect and a poise and a grace to the position where he's got [the ball], then he kicks it or he can avoid a charge by having a little drop-off pass to bigs.

"It's not like he's selfish. He is an excellent passer when he wants to be, but a lot of it has to come with some spice at this early stage. There's nothing wrong, many times, with making the simple pass, and that's the evolution of him.

"But I like his starting point in that he is in attack mode," Brown added. "At some point soon, if you want to be an NBA point guard, you have to have that polish."

The spice of which Brown speaks is Wroten's tendencies to throw no-look or one-handed passes that many times end up not being completed when a simpler pass would probably suffice.

"I like him better at the 'one' because he does more with the ball in his hands," Brown said. "I like him guarding 'ones,' I like him with the ball in his hands.

"I think at this early stage it doesn't interest him the way it needs to when he doesn't have the ball. It's not as fun and it's my job to coach him and to show him and I talk to him and it's good. He understands and that's the evolution of Tony Wroten and his most ideal future position."

Coach Sheed

Philadelphia basketball fans have literally watched Rasheed Wallace grow, from a high-school player under Bill Ellerbee at Simon Gratz to a college star at North Carolina and then an NBA career that spanned 15 seasons with six teams. A four-time All-Star, the 6-10 Wallace gained a reputation more for his salty on-court behavior (perhaps rightfully so) than for his production (14.4 points, 6.7 rebounds). Now 39, he's on Detroit coach Maurice Cheeks' staff as director of player development.

"Rasheed is doing good," said Cheeks. "It's his first stint as a coach, so there are going to be some things that he doesn't know that we're going to have to help him out, but he's teaching our big guys a lot of things."

Exhibit A yesterday was second-year center Andre Drummond, who had 31 points, 19 rebounds, six steals and two blocks against the Sixers.

"Drummond has gotten a lot better with post moves, he's getting better with rebounding the ball, better overall of understanding the game, and a lot of that is due to Rasheed," Cheeks said. "Rasheed is actually a joy to be around."

On Twitter: @BobCooney76


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