Sixers Sign National Champion, Coach Clears COVID-19 Protocols

Braxton Key

Getty Former Virginia player Braxton Key won a national championship at the school in 2019.

The Philadelphia 76ers are trying hard to fill the COVID-19 holes in their roster. The team signed Braxton Key to a 10-day hardship contract on Wednesday, two days after adding Philly native Charlie Brown Jr.

Key will wear No. 17 for the Sixers. He and Brown were activated for Wednesday night’s game against the Orlando Magic. Key joins the Sixers after a stint with the Delaware Blue Coats of the NBA G League where he averaged 13.1 points and 7.3 rebounds per game in 15 contests. The 6-foot-8 swing player led all scorers with 28 points in the Blue Coats’ 104-98 win in the AT&T Winter Showcase championship game. His 30 total steals rank second in the G League this season.

Key went undrafted out of Virginia in the 2020 NBA draft after averaging 9.9 points and 7.4 rebounds as a senior. The 24-year-old won a national championship with the Cavaliers during the 2018-19 season as a key cog off the bench. Key spent his first two years of college eligibility at Alabama before a knee injury hobbled him. He is the nephew of Hall of Famer Ralph Sampson.

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Doc Rivers Clears COVID-19 Protocols

Doc Rivers will return to his seat on the bench tonight in Orlando after clearing COVID-19 protocols. The Sixers head coach entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols on December 30. Assistant coach Dan Burke led the team to two wins in his absence. He pushed all the right buttons and the players expressed their support.

“I think he deserves a lot of credit, I don’t know anyone on the team that doesn’t like him,” Furkan Korkmaz said of Burke. “It’s hard to create it as a coach because sometimes coaches are on our butts, to be honest. And he’s a defensive coach so he is even more. I really believe in him. I really like him, like I said, I really like Burke.”

Philadelphia has won four straight and five of their last six contests. They reside in fifth place in the Eastern Conference with a record of 20-16. Meanwhile, Matisse Thybulle and Tyrese Maxey remain in the COVID-19 protocols.

Korkmaz Plays Point, Records Double-Double

Korkmaz is coming off one of his best games of the year. The Turkish sensation scored 24 points in a 133-113 win over Houston on Monday night. Burke made him the starting point guard with Maxey out and the move paid off big time.

It wasn’t the first time for Korkmaz who often played the point on the Turkish National Team. Still, it was nice to see him thriving.

“I mean, the ball is in your hands, you feel the game more, that’s my mental thing,” Korkmaz said of playing point. “You have to be focused but when you dribble the ball down instead of just touching the ball every three-four minutes you have the ball every time, even if you don’t shoot it, you get the feeling of the ball.”

Korkmaz also grabbed 11 rebounds on Monday night to record his first career double-double. He’s had an up-and-down season to date while averaging 8.8 points per game on 38.6% shooting from the field, including a dismal 29.4% from three-point land.

“I mean, it doesn’t mean anything because right now I just have to get going,” Korkmaz said. “Keep going but of course, it feels good to help the team win.”

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