SAN ANTONIO – Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot is determined to have a vital role with the 76ers.
The 6-foot-7 shooting guard wants the Sixers to depend on him much like the team depends on Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and JJ Redick. He wants to become an impactful member of the starting lineup. The French player wants to become one of the leaders.
“It’s always good for us and the team if people talk to you as a starter, like people you can trust and really count on,” Luwawu-Cabarrot said before Friday’s 97-78 victory over San Antonio Spurs at AT&T Center.
“That’s what I’m trying to do when I play defense, guarding the best player on the other team,” he added. “I just take pride in that and slug down. If me and [starting small forward Robert Covington] can be 2 and 3 guards that’s locked-down defense, that’s going to be great.”
Due to injuries to Redick (left knee fracture) and Jerryd Bayless (sore left wrist), Luwawu-Cabarrot made his fourth straight start and fifth of the season on Friday. He finished with 10 points against the Spurs (32-19) while shooting 4 of 10 from the field, including going 2 of 6 on three-pointers.
However, in his previous three games, the second-year veteran has shown signs that he can become a valued starter. He averaged 15.3 points and made 13 of 20 three-pointers (65 percent) in those games. Luwawu-Cabarrot’s best performance came in Monday’s loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. He finished with a season-high 20 points while making a career-best six three-pointers on a career-high nine attempts.
The 22-year-old native of Cannes made his first four threes. After air-balling his fifth shot, Luwawu-Cabarrot responded by making his next two.
“I’ve been working on my catch-and-shoot,” said Luwawu-Cabarrot, a career 33.9 percent three-point shooter. “I’ve been working on when Joel [Embiid] is in the post to relocate and replace and on screens.”
As good as he’s been, Luwawu-Cabarrot could lose his starting spot once Bayless returns. Bayless’ targeted date is Monday night against the Milwaukee Bucks at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. If not, Luwawu-Cabarrot will definitely lose the position once Redick returns. Redick is expected to be re-evaluated in the coming days.
So Luwawu-Cabarrot needs to learn how to play at the same comfortable level he’s displayed while averaging 31 minutes in the last three games as a starter. He’s been more relaxed and less afraid to make a mistake knowing extended minutes are available. However, Luwawu-Cabarrot has a knack for looking over to the bench after making mistakes in game where he’s only played around 15 minutes or less.
“When you get more minutes, you have more time to prove yourself,” he said, “play our game and have fun on the basketball court. That was the biggest difference.”
The injured Bayless missed his fourth consecutive game on Friday night. The Sixers will play the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday at the Chesapeake Energy Arena before Bayless, who is averaging 8.3 points and 1.4 assists, returns on Monday.