By Max Rappaport, Sixers.com
Whenever a new player comes to town, Brett Brown gives them the same spiel. He welcomes them to town, introduces them to the rest of the coaching staff and the players, and hands him a scouting report for the Sixers’ next game.
At the helm of the league’s youngest team, Brown knows that the only way to get his players up to speed is to get them out on the court for some on-the-job training. This is especially true for 10-day signees, who are given less than two weeks to make their case to earn a second 10-day contract or, eventually, one that lasts through the end of the season.
On Friday, the Sixers signed their first 10-dayer of the year, point guard Larry Drew II, formerly of the Sioux Falls Skyforce. The 24-year-old has spent the past two seasons looking for this opportunity, playing with the Heat’s Development League affiliate in South Dakota since going undrafted out of UCLA in 2013.
Drew learned to play the lead guard position from his father, Larry Drew, Sr., who played 10 seasons in the NBA and racked up 3702 career assists. The elder Drew is now an assistant coach with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
“[My dad] was actually pretty speechless,” Larry Drew II said of his father’s reaction to his call up by the Sixers. “He was probably more excited than I was. He’s been supporting me my whole life, taught me the game, and put the ball in my hands.”
In 21 games with Sioux Falls this season, the 6’2” Drew is averaging 11.0 points (45.5 FG%, 40.4 3P%), 10.1 assists, 3.6 rebounds, and 3.1 turnovers a night. On Christmas Day, he set a D-League record with 23 assists against the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.
“He just passes the ball. You want to make friends real quick, go pass the ball,” Coach Brown said jokingly of his early impressions of the rookie. “When you see a pass-first point guard, it’s just a reminder for all of us that the pass is king, the pass makes the world go round, and it keeps losing teams together. Larry’s been able to come in straight away and say, ‘This is who I am, and this is how I can help your team.’”
With Tony Wroten unable to play due to a right knee sprain, Drew has served as the team’s primary ballhandler when Michael Carter-Williams is off the floor. In two games with the Sixers, he’s logged 38 minutes and notched 11 points (5/10 FG) and 10 assists; nine of those assists came on Saturday against the Pistons, a game in which he played 24 minutes.
With seven days and four games remaining before his contract expires, Drew is looking to stake a claim to one of the Sixers’ 15 roster spots. At least for 10 more days.
“Guys [in the D-League] dream of playing in the NBA,” he said on the day he inked his 10-day deal with the Sixers. “Sometimes, it gets to be like crabs in a bucket, trying to crawl over each other just to get to the top. It just makes [players in the D-League] that much more competitive.”