Tag: Darius Johnson-Odom

Philadelphia 76ers v Houston Rockets

Extra Pass: How Brett Brown and his 76ers have embraced their youth


BOSTON – “Do we have young-guy film today?” a player calls from the corner of the 76ers locker room.

Curious, I ask the 76ers’ media-relations official what that is.

“What do you think it is?” he replies.

“I’d guess its film young guys have to watch,” I say. “But, on this team, isn’t that everybody?”

“Pretty much,” Thaddeus Young chimes in.

The 76ers, carrying an average age of 23.4 (weighted for playing time and holding a player’s age constant as of Feb. 1 each season), are the NBA’s youngest team. Their youth permeates through their organizational culture, maybe even defining them more than losing has – though it’s not as if those traits are mutually exclusive.

They have the sixth-youngest team of all-time. By comparison they have the relatively non-descript 51st-worst win percentage of all-time, and even if they lose out, that would drop only to 33rd-worst.


Philadelphia has only one player older than 26 – 33-year-old Jason Richardson, who has missed the entire season due to injury. Every other team has at least three players over 26.

So, when the 76ers hold young-guy film, it’s essentially team film. Only Young and James Anderson, a fourth-year pro, are exempt.

Rookie 76ers coach Brett Brown implemented the film sessions as a way to provide extra tutoring for young players during an NBA season that includes little practice time, and he personally decided who must participate. He likes the system and would have used it with any roster, though had he taken over certain other teams, maybe only a couple players would have been required to attend.

In Philadelphia, it’s become an essential tool.

Many coaches talk about loving the profession for the ability to teach above all else. But few competitors, which all NBA coaches are, would trade a good team (which requires fewer lessons) for a bad team (which requires more).

Brown doesn’t have that option, and if he did, there’s nothing to say he wouldn’t exercise it. However, he has remained enthusiastic through Philadelphia’s 17-60 season, demonstrating a real passion for serving the 76ers’ youth.

“I love coaching these guys,” Brown said. “They play hard. They play with their hearts on their sleeves.”

Philadelphia’s youngest player is 19-year-old Nerlens Noel, the No. 6 pick in last year’s draft who has yet to play this season due to injury. League-wide, only Giannis Antetokounmpo and Archie Goodwin are younger.

Of 76ers who’ve actually played this season, 20-year-old Tony Wroten is youngest.

“You would never realize that I’m the youngest guy playing right now,” Wroten said.

That’s because Wroten spent last season with the Memphis Grizzlies. The guard has played more NBA games than anyone in Philadelphia outside Young, Anderson and Byron Mullens. At times, Wroten feels he should help the 76ers’ six rookies, but it’s a tough balancing act.

“I’m still learning too every day,” Wroten said.

As are all the 76ers.

The players were recently discussing the oldest one on the team besides Richardson. Young thought it was himself. A lot of 76ers probably thought it was Young, too. Jarvis Varnado sure did.

But it’s actually 26-year-old Varnado, who beat 25-year-old Young into this world by a few months.

Varnado and Young actually graduated high school the same year, but Young left Georgia Tech after only one season, and Varnado played all four years at Mississippi State. Their professional careers have followed similar tracks. While Young is in the midst of a five-year, $43 million contract, Varnado is already with his fourth team in two seasons, trying to extend an NBA career that didn’t begin until two years after the Heat picked him in the second round of the 2010 draft. He signed with the 76ers on a 10-day contract before getting a rest-of-season-deal last month.

Never expecting to be the the oldest player on a team at this stage of his career, Varnado he likes the environment in Philadelphia nonetheless.

“We barely know the NBA,” Varnado said. “So, we’re just trying to go out there and trying to play hard. A lot of guys in here are trying to fight for jobs next year. So, we’re trying to impress everybody.”

And as far as his role as elder statesman?

“I haven’t really felt old,” Varnado said. “I’m around a lot of guys who are young guys, but I don’t feel old, though.”

Neither does Young, whom Brown calls the team’s grandfather.

“I’m still relatively young,” Young said. “It’s just I’ve seen a lot more than they have in this NBA structure.”

Including his veteran teammates traded.

The 76ers began the season with a few 25-year-olds – Evan Tuner, Spencer Hawes and Lavoy Allen – but they dealt all three at the trade deadline (Turner and Allen to the Pacers, Hawes to the Cavaliers). A separate deal with the Wizards netted Eric Maynor – who, at 26, is the oldest person to play for Philadelphia this season – but, per his request, Philadelphia waived him after just eight games.

That left Young as the only 76er with a history of quality NBA production, even generously counting a few small-sample seasons by his teammates.


Philadelphia is not young by accident, and those trades and buyouts are part of a long-term rebuilding strategy. In place of veterans like Turner and Hawes, the 76ers have turned to younger, cheaper and less-productive alternatives.

“It definitely tested my patience a little bit,” Young said. “I was just dealing with so many young guys and them not knowing certain things.

“On any team, you want as many veterans as possible. It definitely helps out having a lot of veterans, because sometimes, younger players just don’t know certain things.”

But for all the downside, Young appreciates aspects of the 76ers’ youth movement. He enjoys going fast – Philadelphia plays at the highest pace the NBA has seen in four years – and he’s grown as a leader.

Though Varnado edges him by a few months in age, Young is the unquestioned face of the 76ers.

“He’s had to carry a young team that is in a total rebuild mode, and he’s endured that,” Brown said. “He’s found ways to compete and lead and not whine or cry about it. He’s dug in.”

Young has done so as the 76ers have gotten progressively younger, especially after the trade deadline. They were always headed toward one of the eight youngest seasons ever, but now they appear likely to close sixth.


Perhaps, I’m overstating the 76ers’ youth. After all, I’m counting their age in human years. Like dog years, maybe another measure – Sixer years? – is more appropriate.

On Jan. 29, the 76ers won in Boston. Their next game began a 26-game losing streak. During it, they traded Turner and Allen, traded Hawes, traded for Mullens, traded for Maynor, waived Earl Clark, waived Danny Granger, signed Varnado, waived Lorenzo Brown, signed Darius Johnson-Odom, waived Maynor and signed James Nunnally.

Finally, they returned to Boston this weekend and won again. Brown recalled Philadelphia’s first victory over the Celtics, just 65 days prior.

“That,” Brown said, “seems like a thousand years ago.”

Tuesday And-1 links: Plans to lure Kings to Virginia Beach appear dead


Here is our regular look around the NBA — links to stories worth reading and notes to check out (stuff that did not get its own post here at PBT) — done in bullet point form. Because bloggers love bullet points like Alabamans love Nick Saban….

• Plans for an arena deal in Virginia Beach — to in theory bring in the Sacramento Kings — are dead. Basically, Comcast-Spectacor, which is reportedly going to be key in paying for the arena, could not work out an agreement with the Kings owners the Maloof family. With no deal in place the mayor of Virginia Beach said they are not going to go to the state and ask for $150 million to help build the arena. The mayor also said the city is pulling out of working on the deal for now.

• The Lakers are starting center Robert Sacre and Darius Morris in place of Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol on Tuesday against Houston as the Lakers go small for Mike D’Antoni with their seven footers injured (Howard is out for the week with a shoulder injury, Gasol has a concussion and his timetable is not known). Going this way against Houston could backfire — Houston plays at the fastest pace in the league and are more comfortable up tempo than the Lakers.

• Along those lines, Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak talks about how his team is not playing well. Stunning. The question is what is he going to do about it? Trade Pau Gasol? And if so do you push to do that at the deadline, or can he wait until the summer when there may be more options.

• Raymond Felton hopes to return to the Knicks lineup from a broken finger by the end of the month. Which is good, they miss him.

• In case you missed it by the way, the Lakers waived Darius Johnson-Odom.

• The Wizards cut Shelvin Mack but are keeping Garrett Temple for the season.

What player is the biggest NBA defensive difference maker, which team has the biggest drop off on defense when one player leaves the court? The Celtics with Kevin Garnett. Which was probably your first guess.

• The Sixers waived Maalik Wayns, then turned around and signed him to a 10-day contract.

• Should Chris Paul be the MVP? It’s up for debate, but if you are not including him in the discussion you are doing it wrong.

• Here is an interesting bit of basketball reasearch — adjusting assist totals for the bias of arena scorekeepers.

• Ben Gordon calls his three years in Detroit a “failure.”

• Some NBA players — Andre Iguodala, Jared Dudley, Nick Young — talk about the first time they dunked, and more.

• Udonis Haslem has decided to nickname himself Django.

• Here is another interview where Royce White tells his side of the story.

Report: Lakers considering adding Delonte West, other point guard


Report: Lakers considering adding Delonte West, other point guard

There are no easy answers for the Lakers, because their problems are not tied to just one thing. It’s point guard play, defensive rotations, a lack of outside shooting, transition defense, injuries and a laundry list of other things that has what was a preseason title contender at 9-13.

But point guard play is the biggest — Chris Duhon and Derius Morris are not cutting it. And with Steve Nash likely out until around Christmas now, the Lakers are thinking of making a move reports Marc Stein of ESPN.

West would be the best of what is out there on the free agent market, but he comes with baggage. The Lakers may think with a veteran-heavy locker room they can deal with that, of course Dallas has a veteran-heavy roster, too. And Mark Cuban is a player-friendly, patient owner.

While Lakers fans may want a bigger move, there are no plans to move Pau Gasol at this point. There will not be until he and Steve Nash (and the rest of the Lakers) get healthy and play together for a stretch and the Lakers evaluate what they really have.

If the Lakers make a move they would have to waive or trade someone, they have a full 15-man roster right now. The most likely candidates are Darius Johnson-Odom and fan-favorite (for his cheering) Robert Sacre.

Lakers waive Andrew Goudelock

Andrew Goudelock

The Lakers waived Andrew Goudelock on Saturday, bringing the team’s roster down to the league-maximum of 15 players.

Goudelock wasn’t expected to make the team with the offseason addition of starting point guard Steve Nash, and with Steve Blake and Chris Duhon firmly in place with guaranteed contracts, it wouldn’t have made sense from a financial standpoint to let one of them go instead.

Goudelock showed some signs he could play early last season, when he provided solid help as a reserve during a seven-game stretch where he played close to 20 minutes per game while averaging better than 10 points a contest.

Two more Lakers remain with non-guaranteed contracts: Robert Sacre and Darius Johnson-Odom. Of the two, Sacre is more likely to make the roster given his size and ability to back up Dwight Howard.

Johnson-Odom may end up overseas if he and the Lakers part ways, according to a report from Sportando.net.

Lakers sign Douglas-Roberts for camp, probably not more

Minnesota Timberwolves v Milwaukee Bucks

It was a little bit of a surprise at Lakers media day when former Memphis star swingman Chris Douglas-Roberts walked out in a Lakers uniform.

But the Lakers signed him to a non-guaranteed contract for training camp, the team announced.

Which is not a bad roll of the dice on a player a lot of people thought could develop into an NBA scorer coming out of college. He spent three seasons in the NBA, two with the Nets and one with the Bucks, but never found that rhythm — he shot 32 percent from three his last season with the Bucks and the shot making that worked for him in college didn’t work as well with the longer, faster athletes of the NBA.

He played in Italy last year. This year he could make the Lakers roster if he could convince them he’s worth the risk and a better risk than guys like Andrew Goudelock or Darius Johnson-Odom. But what most likely happens is this, via ESPNLA.com reporter Dave McMenamin.