IF YOU'VE attended a 76ers game this season and gotten there early enough to see the players go through their individual warmups, you likely saw coach Brett Brown working on the shot of rookie Nerlens Noel.
Brown said before the season that the 19-year-old's shot needed to be totally reconstructed. So the two are constantly engaging in one-on-one sessions before games and after practices. Noel, of course, is one of the few staples for this team moving forward. So investing the time with him, even though he most likely won't be on the floor for a game this season, is paramount.
Two other players on the roster who probably will be here next season have gotten some special treatment from the coaches - guards Michael Carter-Williams and Tony Wroten.
Both have had their problems this season in one area - finishing when they take the ball to the basket. Each can get there with regularity. That's where the troubles arise; once they are there, the results are usually a blocked shot or missed layup. In order to make those forays to the hoop more successful, Brown and his staff have been working on different areas of their guards' games.
For MCW, it's the pull-up jumper in the lane. Over the last handful of games, the rookie constantly has cut his drives one dribble short and either taken a pull-up jumper or gone off one foot and shot a floater. Being 6-6, that little 10-footer would appear to be a key weapon for him.
"Coach [Lloyd] Pierce, who spends a lot of time with Michael, has been [working on those moves]," Brown said. "We've talked a lot about it and he's been working with him on it, and I think that you're starting to see that. There's a point where that long two vs. just stepping back and shooting a three is not this discussion. It's still a two but it's not a long two, it's a smart two where he doesn't have to get into the eyes of the storm."
For Wroten, who some say is one of the best penetrators in the league, there are some problems once he gets inside. He has a tendency to get the ball stripped or get his attempt blocked. But because he is such a suspect outside shooter (37-for-162, 22.8 percent from three-point range), driving is what he has to rely on.
"Let's start with his free throws," Brown said. "If he gets to the rim the way he gets to the rim and he has that mindset first, and at 6-6 an attack mentality second, then you better be able to not be what he was - a 50 percent free-throw shooter. The past 6 weeks he's been a 73 percent free-throw shooter [before going 1-for-6 last night].
"Coach [Billy] Lange has done an excellent job in helping him in that regard. At the end of the day his development is going to come in how does he make other people better? Is he a two guard? Probably not because he's a 20 percent three-point shooter. Can I be a big point guard? Yes, you can, but you better make people better."
On Twitter: @BobCooney76