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Philadelphia 76ers

Joel Embiid should still be rookie of the Year

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When Joel Embiid was showing his incredible potential from the beginning of the season, he looked to be the runaway favorite for the Rookie of the Year award. But when it was announced that he would miss the rest of the season in February, analysts have turned away from Embiid, declaring that someone who played just 31 games this season could not be the winner. Even Embiid himself has graciously stated that his teammate Dario Saric should win the award instead of him.

But even if Embiid played just 31 games, his impact over those 31 games was nearly All-Star worthy, never mind being good by rookie standards. In a normal year where there would be another standout such as an Andrew Wiggins or even a Tyreke Evans, that player should probably get the award in Embiid’s place. But so far, the 2016 draft class has looked like an utter disaster except for those placing a bet on liga178. Given the exceptional circumstances in how good Embiid was when he was on the court and how bad his competition is, Joel Embiid should still be this year’s Rookie of the Year.

Incredible Dominance

NBA fans love to look at young players and dream about how good they could become in the future. But the reality is that the overwhelming majority of rookies are bad NBA players. Even players like LeBron James or Kevin Durant were not that good by overall NBA standards when they were a rookie, and more represented a case of chucking up huge numbers on a bad team.

But in Embiid’s case, the 76ers were actually a good team when he was on the court. Let us not forget that back in January, there was semi-serious talk of them making the playoffs. Yes, the Sixers did fall off as Embiid missed more and more time before it culminated in his season ending injury. But that in and of itself shows just how much greater Embiid’s impact was on the court. When he played, the Sixers were winning at the level comparable to a 50-win team. When he rested or sat on the bench, they looked like…well, the way the Sixers do now.

Rookies practically never do that. The fact that Embiid did shows just how huge his impact was during his limited minutes.

Who else?

But let us say that 31 games is not enough, and that the Rookie of the Year award should go to someone else. But who? Who actually deserves it?

That is the big problem here. Is it going to Malcolm Brogdon, who is averaging just 10 ppg on a 14.4 PER compared to Embiid’s 20.2 ppg on an incredible 24.1 PER? Dario Saric, who while putting up big numbers as of late struggled early on and is not leading Philadelphia to wins? Or perhaps someone else like Buddy Hield or Jamal Murray?

If there was someone who was putting up big numbers like the aforementioned example of Tyreke Evans or even a Michael Carter-Williams, or someone who was showing through his play that he has the potential to be a star, then I could understand giving the award to that person instead. But there is no one even close to that. Rachel Nichols summed it up perfectly when she observed that it took us no time at all to say of Embiid that he was by far the best rookie. Dario Saric putting up some good scoring games does not do enough to change that impression.

Embiid’s case for the Rookie of the Year award is as much an indictment of this terrible 2016 draft class as it is awe of his limited time on the court, and perhaps we should just follow SB Nation’s idea of giving it to no one. But given the lack of serious, better alternatives, Embiid should still win the award despite missing so much time.

Philadelphia 76ers

The Markelle Fultz Saga takes another turn

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Markelle Fultz has befuddled 76ers and NBA fans for two years with questions about his availability, and Philadelphia fans who want to see him play have to prepare to be disappointed. The Athletics’ David Aldridge tweeted Tuesday morning that Fultz “is scheduled to see a shoulder specialist early next week.” The new came from Fultz’s agent Raymond Brothers, who stated that Fultz will not participate in 76ers practices or games until he sees the specialist.

The 76ers likely will not need Fultz, as they will be staying at home against New Orleans and Cleveland before heading out to face Brooklyn over the next week. But 76ers fans should be seriously concerned about what this means for the relationship between Fultz and the team. Is this a temporary surprise which we will forget in a few weeks, and could we have seen Fultz wear a 76ers jersey for the last time?

Not Reaching Expectations

The timing for this Fultz’s announcement is rather suspicious. On Monday’s victory over the Phoenix Suns, Fultz played just 7 minutes and went 0-2 from the field before being benched in the second half in favor of T.J. McConnell. For the season, Fultz is averaging a poor 8.2 points on 8.2 shots, and he has been clearly hesitant to shoot from long range. And just over a week ago, he shot a free throw which could have been mistaken for Chuck Hayes’s infamous hitch.

Is Fultz struggling because the shoulder injury which plagued him his rookie season is back, or does he have the yips? I do not know, and anyone outside the 76ers organization who says he does know is an idiot or a liar. The 76ers medical staff has certainly had its issues, but it is possible that Fultz expects his shoulder to hurt so he plays like it is regardless of its actual status.

But what we do know is that Fultz’s role on this team is far shakier compared to a few months ago, when he was seen as the missing piece to slot alongside Simmons and Embiid. Now Butler is that piece. And while Fultz can dish the ball and get to the rim, he cannot provide the spacing to play alongside three other stars who all want the ball.

A New Team

Philadelphia’s trade for Jimmy Butler as well as its decision to bench Fultz in favor of T.J. McConnell likely shows that they are done waiting for Fultz to reach the next and are preparing to win now. And while the Toronto, Boston, and Milwaukee are all major challenges, none of those three teams pose as much of a roadblock to the Finals that the Cavaliers did last year. If this saga keeps up, we should expect to see Philadelphia seriously consider trading Fultz to a team for win-now talent. While Fultz has not lived up to his #1 pick hype, struggling teams like Dallas, New York, Phoenix, or Cleveland would be more than willing to take a flyer on him. In fact, at Dallas he could even get an SEO Dallas company to boost his rankings.

However, a major limitation on trading Fultz is that Philadelphia will likely be uninterested in taking back salary past this season. Sixers Wire points out that Philadelphia could offer another max slot if they can dump Fultz’s salary and renounce other players like McConnell, creating a big four of Simmons, Embiid, Butler, and another star. Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard would be the grand prizes, but Khris Middleton, Al Horford, and Tobias Harris are some other options better than Fultz.

The 76ers should look at the San Antonio Spurs over the past year, and how the Spurs lost Kawhi Leonard over disputes about his health with a lingering injury. Fultz is certainly not Leonard, but that just means that he is not important enough to be a distraction for a 76ers team looking to catch up after a slow start. The Butler trade already signified that Philadelphia did not see Fultz as essential, but Aldridge’s report may mean that they no longer see Fultz as worth the drama given his ongoing lack of production.

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76ers Investigating Bryan Colangelo, Colangelo Issues Statement

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What a whacky 24 hours it’s been for the Philadelphia 76ers who just wrapped up an incredible turnaround season that ended with a surprising trip to the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals.

Yesterday, Ben Detrick of The Ringer published a rather extensive investigation into Sixers’ general manager Bryan Colangelo and his alleged use of “burner” Twitter profiles to criticize players, Sixers head coach Brett Brown and team executives.

Within the report, an account with the handle @phila1234567 was mentioned, an account Colangelo confirmed.

Colangelo issued the following statement:

“Like many of my colleagues in sports, I have used social media as a means to keep up with the news. While I have never posted anything whatsoever on social media, I have used the @Phila1234567 Twitter account referenced in this story to monitor our industry and other current events. This storyline is disturbing to me on many levels, as I am not familiar with any of the other accounts that have been brought to my attention, nor do I know who is behind them or what their motives may be in using them.”

Colangelo stood by his claim of not knowing the “motives or origin” of the accounts after the allegations went public, according to Yahoo Sports’ Shams Charania.

Things are looking fishy and not many people are buying Colangelo’s version of the story.

On Wednesday, The Athletic’s Rich Hoffman tweeted the Sixers’ official statement on the matter involving Colangelo, announcing that they will be conducting an investigation.

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Boston Celtics

NBA Playoff Schedule 2018

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Are you ready for the NBA Playoffs? Well, we have you covered with the full NBA Playoff schedule including game times, TV coverage info, matchups and dates.

Here is how things are breaking down, schedule wise, per NBA.com. NOTE: * = if necessary

Western Conference

No. 1 Houston Rockets vs. No. 8 Minnesota Timberwolves

Game 1: Minnesota Timberwolves at Houston Rockets: April 15 at 9 p.m. ET on TNT

Game 2: Minnesota Timberwolves at Houston Rockets: April 18 at 9:30 p.m. ET on TNT

Game 3: Houston Rockets at Minnesota Timberwolves: April 21 at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN

Game 4: Houston Rockets at Minnesota Timberwolves: April 23 at 8 p.m. ET on TNT

*Game 5: Minnesota Timberwolves at Houston Rockets: April 25 at TBD

*Game 6: Houston Rockets at Minnesota Timberwolves: April 27 at TBD

*Game 7: Minnesota Timberwolves at Houston Rockets: April 29 at TBD

 

No. 2 Golden State Warriors vs. No. 7 San Antonio Spurs

Game 1: San Antonio Spurs at Golden State Warriors: April 14 at 3 p.m. ET on ABC

Game 2: San Antonio Spurs at Golden State Warriors: April 16 at 10:30 p.m. ET on TNT

Game 3: Golden State Warriors at San Antonio Spurs: April 19 at 9:30 p.m. ET on TNT

Game 4: Golden State Warriors at San Antonio Spurs: April 22 at 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC

*Game 5: San Antonio Spurs at Golden State Warriors: April 24 at TBD

*Game 6: Golden State Warriors at San Antonio Spurs: April 26 at TBD

*Game 7: San Antonio Spurs at Golden State Warriors: April 28 at TBD

 

No. 3 Portland Trail Blazers vs. No. 6 New Orleans Pelicans

Game 1: New Orleans Pelicans at Portland Trail Blazers: April 14 at 10:30 p.m. ET on ESPN

Game 2: New Orleans Pelicans at Portland Trail Blazers: April 17 at 10:30 p.m. ET on TNT

Game 3: Portland Trail Blazers at New Orleans Pelicans: April 19 at 9 p.m. ET on NBA TV

Game 4: Portland Trail Blazers at New Orleans Pelicans: April 21 at 5 p.m. ET on TNT

*Game 5: New Orleans Pelicans at Portland Trail Blazers: April 24 at TBD

*Game 6: Portland Trail Blazers at New Orleans Pelicans: April 26 at TBD

*Game 7: New Orleans Pelicans at Portland Trail Blazers: April 28 at TBD

 

No. 4 Oklahoma City Thunder vs. No. 5 Utah Jazz

Game 1: Utah Jazz at Oklahoma City Thunder: April 15 at 6:30 p.m. ET on TNT

Game 2: Utah Jazz at Oklahoma City Thunder: April 18 at 8 p.m. ET on NBA TV

Game 3: Oklahoma City Thunder at Utah Jazz: April 21 at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN

Game 4: Oklahoma City Thunder at Utah Jazz: April 23 at 10:30 p.m. ET on TNT

*Game 5: Utah Jazz at Oklahoma City Thunder: April 25 at TBD

*Game 6: Oklahoma City Thunder at Utah Jazz: April 27 at TBD

*Game 7: Utah Jazz at Oklahoma City Thunder: April 29 at TBD

 

Eastern Conference

No. 1 Toronto Raptors vs. No. 8 Washington Wizards

Game 1: Washington Wizards at Toronto Raptors: April 14 at 5:30 p.m. ET on ESPN

Game 2: Washington Wizards at Toronto Raptors: April 17 at 7 p.m. ET on NBA TV

Game 3: Toronto Raptors at Washington Wizards: April 20 at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN2

Game 4: Toronto Raptors at Washington Wizards: April 22 at 6 p.m. ET on TNT

*Game 5: Washington Wizards at Toronto Raptors: April 25 at TBD

*Game 6: Toronto Raptors at Washington Wizards: April 27 at TBD

*Game 7: Washington Wizards at Toronto Raptors: April 29 at TBD

 

No. 2 Boston Celtics vs. No. 7 Milwaukee Bucks

Game 1: Milwaukee Bucks at Boston Celtics: April 15 at 1 p.m. ET on TNT

Game 2: Milwaukee Bucks at Boston Celtics: April 17 at 8 p.m. ET on TNT

Game 3: Boston Celtics at Milwaukee Bucks: April 20 at 9:30 p.m. ET on ESPN

Game 4: Boston Celtics at Milwaukee Bucks: April 22 at 1 p.m. ET on ABC

*Game 5: Milwaukee Bucks at Boston Celtics: April 24 at TBD

*Game 6: Boston Celtics at Milwaukee Bucks: April 26 at TBD

*Game 7: Milwaukee Bucks at Boston Celtics: April 28 at TBD

 

No. 3 Philadelphia 76ers vs. No. 6 Miami Heat

Game 1: Miami Heat at Philadelphia 76ers: April 14 at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN

Game 2: Miami Heat at Philadelphia 76ers: April 16 at 8 p.m. ET on TNT

Game 3: Philadelphia 76ers at Miami Heat: April 19 at 7 p.m. ET on TNT

Game 4: Philadelphia 76ers at Miami Heat: April 21 at 2:30 p.m. ET on TNT

*Game 5: Miami Heat at Philadelphia 76ers: April 24 at TBD

*Game 6: Philadelphia 76ers at Miami Heat: April 26 at TBD

*Game 7: Miami Heat at Philadelphia 76ers: April 28 at TBD

 

No. 4 Cleveland Cavaliers vs. No. 5 Indiana Pacers

Game 1: Indiana Pacers at Cleveland Cavaliers: April 15 at 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC

Game 2: Indiana Pacers at Cleveland Cavaliers: April 18 at 7 p.m. ET on TNT

Game 3: Cleveland Cavaliers at Indiana Pacers: April 20 at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN

Game 4: Cleveland Cavaliers at Indiana Pacers: April 22 at 8:30 p.m. ET on TNT

*Game 5: Indiana Pacers at Cleveland Cavaliers: April 25 at TBD

*Game 6: Cleveland Cavaliers at Indiana Pacers: April 27 at TBD

*Game 7: Indiana Pacers at Cleveland Cavaliers  April 29 at TBD

 

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