After an off-season which saw the 76ers being more proactive than most would of predicted, there are several things to look forward to moving into the 2012-13 season. The acquisition of Andrew Bynum and Jason Richardson made headlines and will have a huge impact on this team. The signing of Nick Young and trading for Dorrel Wright certainly strengthened the core of this roster. Still, arguably the most pleasantly surprising addition to our Philadelphia franchise this past summer may be the pick-up of the undrafted Maalik Wayns.
At first glance it’s easy to write Wayns off as just another roster addition. There is no reason to even humor the thought of Jrue Holiday not ending this season the same way he starts, as the featured point guard of this franchise. In fact unless a series of unfortunate injuries and circumstances arise, one wouldn’t be expecting Maalik Wayns to be given significant minutes coming off the bench. Still, the undrafted guard out of Nova has shown that his path to an NBA roster will not be denied and if nurtured properly Wayns could be a help to the 7-6 this season.
Here are the facts: It looks like J-Rich will join Holiday as the starting guards. The Sixers also have a crowded backcourt rotation with Nick Young and Royal Ivey both expected to come off the bench and play some time at the point guard spot. Add to that the possibility of Evan Turner assuming point guard duties from time to time, and it’s safe to say that unless Wayns’ outstanding play continues, he could very well get buried here. All of that could happen, if Doug Collins chooses to ignore the upside that Maalik Wayns brings to the table or if Wayns finds himself in DC’s doghouse (Something that has been known to happen to rookies under Collins.).
In the former Wildcat, you have a speedy point guard that can manage both sides of the court. His versatility has already made him a challenger for Royal Ivey’s minutes at the least. Having made the most of his preseason opportunities Wayns has shown consistency (10.3 ppg. & 4 apg.; +10.4 EFF) if nothing else. In 23 minutes against the Brooklyn Nets he scored 18 points, with 3 of 5 coming from long range. While he struggled against the Celtics in the following game from a shooting standpoint (3-9 on FGAs) ending with only 9 points, he compensated for it by providing 8 assists in the 107-75 win. His quickness is lethal, his shot selection has been well timed, and his court vision seems as NBA ready as one would hope. Defensively he may struggle to find his place under Doug Collins system, but he’s solid considering the limited role he’d be receiving in that regard.
Truth be told, Maalik Wayns is an enigma to say the least. While he has certainly earned the chance to at least acquire a spot on this 76ers team, his future is far from certain. From a fans’ perspective you get a quick, explosive player that could develop into a key role player if given sufficient time. Unfortunately on a team filled with players that have already cemented their roles on the depth chart and a head coach who does not favor rookies, Wayns may not be awarded the proper time it takes to develop into a player who can contribute in a positive way for 2012-13.
However, if he is given the chance he appears to have earned during this preseason, Wayns could find his way as the 7th or 8th man on this roster before season’s end. At worst, the Sixers would then have a solid player that can provide a spark on nights where the regulars are sluggish or even manage the team in games vs. over matched opponents.
Not a bad gamble either way you go.