We are nearing the NBA All-Star break as well as the potential return of the 2017 number one draft pick, Markelle Fultz. Lately, many fans and sports media alike are beginning to become impatient with this year’s most recent addition to The Process in Philadelphia. Some are even concluding that Markelle is a bust, already.
The Philadelphia 76ers have forced the basketball fans inside of their city to be patient with the teams progression. For the most part, Philadelphia fans have not only accepted the past few years of losing, but even expanded their interest and want for a winning basketball team. The Sixers set organization records this year in season ticket sales all due to The Process.
In 2012, the Sixers sneaked their way into the Eastern Conference playoffs as the eighth seed and reluctantly defeated the Chicago Bulls in the opening round only because of Derrick Rose’s torn ACL. The 2012-2013 season was even worse as the 76ers found themselves on the outside of the Eastern Conference Playoffs as the nine-seed with only 34 wins that season.
Since the 2003-2004 NBA season, the Philadelphia 76ers have only peaked as high as the six-seed in the Eastern Conference and only reaching the Eastern Conference Semi Finals twice. This led to the infamous beginning to what is now known as The Process in the NBA world.
From the 2013-2014 season until this past season, the Process has led to a horrific 75-253 record for the 76ers. The 76ers became a comedy show for the NBA, averaging only 19 wins per season and displaying some of the worst basketball in NBA history. This was all apart of a well-thought plan devised by former General Manager and President of Basketball Operations, Sam Hinkie.
The Process has led to seven first round draft picks for the Sixers in the last four years including four lottery picks, two of which being the number one draft pick. These draft picks have been headlined by Joel Embiid and Dario Saric in 2014, Ben Simmons in 2016, and Markelle Fultz this past year.
Every single one of the pieces to The Process have been delayed to show that this Process was worth it. It took Dario Saric two years to even come to the United States, Joel Embiid sat out two years with a never ending foot injury as well as the end of last year’s season with a knee injury, Ben Simmons also had a foot injury delay him an entire year, and possibly weirdest of all, Markelle Fultz has missed the last 36 games with a shoulder injury. Along with this shoulder injury, Fultz has appeared to lose his jump shot or have his own basketball form of the yips some baseball players get.
The Process has finally shown us it’s potential. Joel Embiid is a force offensively and defensively, averaging 23.8 points and 10.8 rebounds this year as well as being a wall down low in the paint. Ben Simmons leads the way for Rookie of the Year and has clearly shown ability to become a star in the NBA, averaging 16.8 points, 8 rebounds and 7.3 assists. Dario Saric has quietly become a versatile forward willing to do anything to help this team.
The Process has also attracted talent from free agency in it’s early stages. The 2017 NBA off-season led to the free agent signing of J.J. Redick to join the Process. Redick provides exactly what the Sixers were missing with his ability to shoot and he has averaged 17.3 points per game so far this season.
Markelle Fultz will provide a lot more offense when healthy. It will be interesting to see if Coach Brett Brown will try to find Fultz a spot within the starting lineup or utilize the number one pick off the bench. Either way, Fultz will add another very athletic guard who has proven ability to drive as well as the ability to shoot the midrange jumper.
The Sixers currently sit at .500 on the season, 20-20. Right now they are the 9-seed in the Eastern Conference and arguably survived the toughest part of their schedule without their number one draft pick.
Soon enough, Markelle Fultz will be back in the 76ers lineup and proving his talents to all of his doubters. Joel Embiid will be playing back-to-back nights with no minute restrictions. The Process will also be a very attractive for the star-studded 2018 Free Agency class headlined by Lebron James and player options by Paul George, Carmelo Anthony, and Kevin Durant.
The Process is only beginning in Philadelphia, don’t hop off of it now.
Nuggets’ Mike Malone Emotional Following Denver School Shooting
Denver Nuggets head coach Mike Malone became emotional during a press conference discussing a school shooting that left one student dead took place at a Highlands Ranch public charter school in his suburban Denver community.
Malone talked how his two middle school-aged daughters, who attend a different school, had experienced a lockdown for the second time in a three week period due to a shooting threat, as he called for something to change to stop this epidemic.
One student was killed and eight injured during Tuesday’s shooting at the STEM school in Highlands Ranch, according to the Douglas County Sheriff’s office. According to their report, two suspects are currently in custody.
“The [STEM] school is literally two minutes away from where I live, right down Broadway in Highlands Ranch,” Malone said, according to ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk. “My wife and daughters know people. As a coach, I am somewhat of a recluse, but it’s a close community.
“It’s not just Highlands Ranch. It’s not just Colorado. This is an epidemic. And it continues to happen. And that is the frustrating thing. How do you stop it? Again, gun control, laws, whatever it might be. I am not a politician. I don’t want to sit up here on a soapbox. I just want everybody back at Highlands Ranch to know that we’re with you and that is very important for them to know.”
There was a moment of silence prior to Game 5 between the Nuggets and the Portland Trail Blazers.
Malone said that he was at the Pepsi Center preparing for Game 5 when his wife, Jocelyn, called to inform him about the shooting and to let him know that their daughters were safe but scared.
“The thing that makes you angry is that she’s telling me how scared my daughters are in their schools, texting her, because they don’t know what’s going on — it’s a lockout,” Malone said.
“Where’s this shooter? Is it at our school? Some other school? The kids go to school, they should be going to school to learn, have fun, be with their friends. Not worry about an active shooter. … It’s just frustrating, and it gets you angry because it hits home. And that’s how I felt today.”
While Malone stated that he would likely wouldn’t bring up the shooting with his team prior to Game 5, he did discuss how he would address the topic with his daughters.
“That’s a great question, and you know, that’s something I haven’t even really thought about,” Malone said emotionally. “I’m texting my daughter, telling her she’s going to be OK. I don’t even know if she will be OK.
“This is every parent’s worst nightmare, and it’s something that when you see your kids go to school in the morning, it’s ‘Have a great day’ and just assume everything is going to be all right. And as we all know, it’s not. So you figure it out.”
The STEM Highlands Ranch campus is not far from Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. Columbine was where one of the most infamous school mass shootings in American history took place back on April 20th, 1999.
“I know thoughts and prayers are never enough,” Malone continued. “And from myself, our team, our organization, our thoughts and prayers are with all those families, students, school administrators, everybody that was there today. It’s a tragedy.
“I would like to say a thank you to the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department that was there, on top of it, in matter of minutes and all the first responders that were there and allowing that to not become worse than it was,” Malone added. “But it’s a shame. My girls have been in a lockout twice in the last month. I’m not a politician, I don’t have the answers, but something must change. So I just want to make sure that I acknowledge what happened today in my backyard and all those families are on my mind.”
Nets’ D’Angelo Russell Cited for Marijuana Possession at Airport
Brooklyn Nets point guard D’Angelo Russell was cited for marijuana possession on Wednesday night at LaGuardia Airport in New York, according to USA Today’s A.J. Perez.
Per the report, during a routine search of a checked bag police found marijuana hidden inside a container, located in Russell’s bag, that was made to look like an Arizona Iced Tea can.
Russell would be forced to enter the league’s marijuana program if he is convicted of possession, however, he won’t face suspension until a third violation.
While Russell received a summons to appear in court following the search, he was allowed to continue on his flight to Louisville, Kentucky.
Celtics’ General Manager Danny Ainge Suffers Mild Heart Attack
Boston Celtics general manager and president of basketball operations Danny Ainge suffered a mild heart attack on Tuesday in Milwaukee, according to a team press release.
Ainge, 60, was with the team in Milwaukee for the first round Eastern Conference playoff series against the Bucks.
“Been in constant communication with his family,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said, according to ESPN. “He’s resting well and feels better. Obviously, always scary, but he’s got a good support network. Obviously, expect a full recovery and he’s feeling good. So that’s all positive. Certainly scary.”
Ainge, who suffered what is described as a mild heart attack back in April 2009, received immediate medical attention and is expected to make a full recovery, and is expected to return to Boston soon.
“Danny is just one of those guys who takes time out of his life, his day when he’s doing his schedule, to make sure you’re all right,” Celtics guard Marcus Smart said. “He constantly checks in on us, my family, and things like that. Just personally, for me, he’s been another mentor. For me, from when I first got here, Danny was the person I see every day and am talking to, so he means a lot to my life as well. … I just hope he has a speedy recovery.”
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