For the sixth time in six seasons, Damien Wilkins played for a different team.
experiment with the 76ers bore some unexpected success: The ninth-year
man went from deep reserve to rotation-cracking role player to starter.
Counted on for vocal leadership, he gave the Sixers so much
more (with 21 starts among his 61 games played, including a .459
shooting percentage in that span – second-best on the team).
The downside to
Wilkins? Wilkins, whose 18 minutes per game were the most he’s logged
since the 2009-10 season, played far too much time. For a winning club,
he’s a well-rounded reserve at the beginnings of the second
and fourth quarters, and in instances of foul trouble at the small
forward spot. For the Sixers, he was clearly stretched him beyond his
Not like that mattered to Wilkins.
“As a competitor, a
guy who gets paid to play, I want to play,” Wilkins said. “I love the
game. I work hard in the offseason to play, not to sit.”
Wilkins made the league minimum for a guy with as much experience as he
has. If the Sixers can ink him to a similar deal, have at it. If Wilkins
elects to try to parlay his increased playing time
into a big pay day, the Sixers will go in a different direction.
For a green team like
the Sixers, whose leaders Jrue Holiday and Thad Young sometimes are too
youthful to command the locker room, having Wilkins around wasn’t a bad
thing. And Wilkins hopes teams were watching him
“All of the NBA is
watching,” he said. “The logo on the top of your jersey is the biggest
logo on your uniform and every night you go out there is your interview.
“Whether or not I
found a home here is to be determined. Once free agency starts, this
league is funny, man. You go out there and play the best you can, hope
for the best in the offseason and it only takes one team
to like you. Hopefully it's back here, it's great. If not, hopefully
it's somewhere else that's as good an opportunity.”