Richaun Holmes Establishing A Home In Philadelphia

Second-year player Richaun Holmes has made the most of his opportunities due to recent openings in the Philadelphia 76ers frontcourt.

Richaun Holmes was staring at an uphill battle to commence this season. Holmes had just completed his rookie campaign with the Philadelphia 76ers, where he managed to post the modest numbers of 5.6 points and 2.6 rebounds in 13.8 minutes per contest.

He competed for playing time against fellow rookie and No.3 overall pick, Jahlil Okafor, along with second-year center Nerlens Noel.

To start this season, Holmes was also confronted with the reality that center Joel Embiid was ready to begin his career after two seasons on the sideline with a foot injury. However, Embiid was placed on a minutes restriction due to his injury concerns.

With that in mind, Holmes played in 21 of the first 25 games of the season, averaging 6.9 points and 4.3 rebounds in 16 minutes per game. But it was then that Holmes faced some further challenges.

First, it was at about this time that Embiid started to emerge and establish himself as a force in the league.

Furthermore, Holmes suffered a concussion in a Sixers’ practice and missed the following five games. Upon his return, Holmes was assigned to two separate stints for the Sixers’ D-League affiliate, the Delaware 87ers.

In all, Holmes missed 16 consecutive Sixers’ game, a significant disruption for a second-year player trying to establish himself.

But soon after his return, Holmes’ personal fortune took a turn for the better.

Beneficial for Holmes, but not the Sixers, was the revelation that Embiid was ruled out for the remainder of the season.

Sidelined indefinitely for the month prior to the announcement, Embiid’s knee complaint had not been resolved and the decision was made to pull the pin on his season.

Also in Holmes’ favor was the Sixers’ decision to trade Noel to the Dallas Mavericks just prior to the trade deadline. Noel was averaging 19.4 minutes per game primarily in a backup role and was always going to be a detriment to the development of Holmes.

So with the departure of two key pieces of the Sixers’ rotation, Holmes was in a position he would’ve only dreamed about at the start of the season. Over his past 11 games, Holmes’ playing time has increased to 24.1 minutes per game, including three starts.

In this time he has averaged 13.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.2 blocks and 1.1 steals per game. He has also managed to shoot at a 62.5 percent clip from the field.

Holmes’ recent stretch included a season-high 24 points on 10-of-13 shooting, to go along with nine rebounds in a recent road loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. The highlights from this performance can be seen here:

Holmes demonstrates in these highlights a great level of versatility. At 6-foot-10, Holmes has the ability put the ball on the floor, finish in traffic and also spot up from behind the three-point line.

Over these past 11 games, Holmes is connecting at 38.9 percent from downtown on 1.6 attempts per game.

Recently, head coach Brett Brown was optimistic for what the future holds for Holmes:

“He’s got a toughness, he’s got a style of game that equals the way this modern-day sport is emerging to. It’s one with speed, it’s one with tremendous athleticism, it’s one to switch out and guard multiple positions. He’s got that…His improvement has been most realized by me mentally. I think he’s grown up. He understands how gifted and lucky he is to be here. I think his on-court improvement has come from growing his 18-foot shot, a little bit more comfortable shooting a three. But I think the total growth, really to me, was kick-started with his attitude on handling this situation and still being a part of our team.”

Unlike Embiid, Noel and Okafor, Holmes was not a lottery pick. He was selected in the second round with the 37th overall pick of the 2015 draft.

And while the aforementioned lottery picks attended Kansas, Kentucky and Duke respectively, Holmes came from the much smaller Bowling Green.

But Holmes’ late selection can be seen to be part of a recent trend of promising young big-men being selected late in the draft.

Fellow centers such as Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets and Willy Hernangomez of the New York Knicks have proven this season that it doesn’t always matter where you were selected.

And if his recent form is anything to go by, Holmes can very well prove to be another diamond-in-the-rough big man chosen late in recent drafts.

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