When the Sixers signed Kwame Brown, it wasn't a move that garnered high praise.

The former No. 1 overall pick, now in his 12th season, has averaged double-digit points only once in his career -- 2003-04 with the Wizards when he also averaged a career-high 7.4 rebounds.

Brown's defense, experience and toughness are now a necessity on a team without its star center Andrew Bynum.

"When I signed Kwame, I said he could defend and rebound; I said that from moment one," Doug Collins said after Saturday's practice. "Whether he scores one point or none, he is not the first pick in the draft at age 30. He's Kwame Brown, who does what he does best. And that's why we want him on our team and that's why we need him healthy."

"The bottom line, he is the biggest guy on our team," Jrue Holiday said. "He's our strongest guy. Having him out there, I know, for me, I feel tougher."

Brown played in two preseason games before straining his left calf, which led to him being sidelined for six regular-season games, while it continues to hamper his jumping abilities.

Last season with Golden State, Brown missed all but nine games with a tear to his pectoral muscle, so the big man's game-shape is still a work in progress.

"At some point, you just have to go out there and do it," Brown said. "We don't have time for me to get in shape during practice because, obviously, guys can't practice with so many games in a row. I figured it's to my benefit, and the team's benefit, for me to just go out and play as long as I can and as much as I can, give what I got."