Richaun Holmes arrives at each game not knowing if he’ll play.
He still prepares the same way.
The 6-foot-10 rookie from Bowling Green has been a pleasant surprise for the Sixers. Selected with the 37th overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, Holmes has given the Sixers a spark whenever his number has been called.
Holmes had appeared in 29 games and averaged 6.0 points per game heading into Saturday night’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers. Holmes then showed why the Sixers took a chance on him, as he scored 17 points, one shy of tying a career high, to go along with six rebounds in a 114-89 win.
So there is plenty to be excited about in an otherwise challenging season for the Sixers. This is definitely a player the Sixers (5-37) can utilize in the future.
“I think it starts because he’s a good screener,” Sixers coach Brett Brown said of Holmes. “He’s a committed screener and he’s not afraid to hit people. That’s one of the areas where we continue to work with Jahlil (Okafor) on to be a better screen setter. I think Richaun is an example of someone who played college basketball a lot longer than most of the guys we have. … He hits people and sets screens and I think he can step out and shoot a three. He’s a committed roller and he’s a good pick-and-roller for being so young.”
Playing time has been scarce for Holmes.
From one game to the next, Holmes can’t predict how many – if any – minutes he’ll receive. Then came 27 minutes and major production against Portland.
“I’m learning something new every day and I’m blessed to be here,” the soft-spoken Holmes said last week. “As I get more minutes, I will continue to pick more things up. This whole season has been a learning experience and it has been great. Getting used to the speed and physical nature of the league took some time. Wherever I’m needed to play, that’s what I’ll do. I’m comfortable doing whatever the coaches ask of me. I want to prove myself each and every day.”
Holmes isn’t like most rookies since he picked up three years of much-needed experience at Bowling Green. He was named the Mid-American Conference Defensive Player of the Year and All-MAC First Team as a senior.
Holmes left the program as its all-time leader in blocks with 244. He became the first player in school history to register at least 1,000 points, 600 rebounds and 200 blocked shots.
Competing in the NBA is much tougher. Through the first half of the season, Holmes has proven that he can contribute.
“I feel like the sky is the limit for me,” Holmes said. “It’s been a season of learning and listening. When my number is called, I want to play hard and play well. I’m having fun, but at the same time, I’m not satisfied at all. I know there’s a long way to go. I’m hoping the future will be here since this is where I’m starting out. I’m picking things up every single day. I feel like my overall game is expanding. My teammates have been so supportive and that makes the journey more enjoyable.”