76ers head coach Brett Brown is displaying much more trust in his players this season, argues Max Rappaport (TastyPoutine/Creative Commons).
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With redshirt rookie Ben Simmons garnering heavy praise around the league and Joel Embiid looking healthy and better than ever, the long-tanking 76ers are finally winning games, beginning to reap the benefits of their ambitious Process, which Sam Hinkie launched nearly four and a half years ago. As Simmons comfortably leads the Rookie of the Year chase, filling virtually every corner of the stat sheet, he’s surrounded by improved shooter Robert Covington, veteran free-agent acquisition J.J. Redick and, more broadly, a considerably bolstered roster compared to a season ago. Philadelphia’s Defensive Efficiency has cracked the league’s top 10, and Brett Brown’s squad is playing with confidence and even some semblance of consistency. Max Rappaport, co-host of the 76ers-themed Stepover Podcast and contributor to Complex Sports and Bleacher Report, helps us delve deeply into this up-and-coming Eastern Conference team. To close the show, Joe Borelli of the SuperFlight Podcast makes a special appearance to rave about Simmons, whom he affectionately refers to as an “anomaly” and a “physical freak.” The (numerical) time stamps below are only approximate, but the quotes contained inside are the real deal:
6:42-7:25 (MR): “I think the hardcore Process fans, maybe their enthusiasm level hasn’t really changed or it’s been shifted in a different way. They’re no longer cult followers of lovable losers. Now they care about wins and losses too, and that makes it, in some ways, more fun, because the team’s better and Embiid’s playing and Simmons has been awesome. But at the same time, it was kind of a win-win before…Now, it’s like half the time you’re kind of pissed after a game.” Continue reading
The best season of Eric Bledsoe’s career was cut short due to lingering issues with his left knee (Keith Allison/Creative Commons).
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Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Knight and Tyson Chandler have already been shut down for the remainder of the Phoenix Suns’ season, but Fox Sports Senior NBA Writer Andrew Lynch isn’t convinced full-on tanking is in the team’s best interest. Andrew’s appearance comes fresh off 20-year-old Devin Booker’s history-making 70-point output in a loss to the Celtics Friday night. He contextualizes Booker’s rare night and breaks down many other integral Suns issues, such as Eric Bledsoe’s projected NBA future, the disappointing Alex Len, rookie Marquese Chriss’ potential and Phoenix’s approach to this June’s draft.
2:31-2:57: “In this season, Suns fans needed something like that, I think. And it’s just perfectly fitting – I tweeted this last night – that it came in a loss. All of my favorite Suns memories are in losses. I know people want to maybe belittle the achievement a little because he was taking so many shots, because they were fouling, because they were calling timeouts…70 points is 70 points in an NBA game. Period.”
Coach Brett Brown and his Sixers are finally starting to see results, with wins in seven of their last nine games (TastyPoutine/Creative Commons).
With every team at or beyond the midpoint of its regular-season schedule, it could not be a better time to assess how each squad measures up. Some teams will be celebrating All-Star starter selections just named, while many others are confronting serious injuries. Amid this crazy time, the 76ers jumped nine slots, leaving the league’s cellar thanks to a mighty strong start to 2017. Meanwhile, the Charlotte Hornets, Sacramento Kings and Orlando Magic have experienced the league’s steepest declines in recent weeks.
Biggest Jumps: Philadelphia 76ers (+9), Washington Wizards (+4), Detroit Pistons (+4), Denver Nuggets (+4)
Biggest Falls: Sacramento Kings (-8), Charlotte Hornets (-8), Orlando Magic (-7)
Rookie Joel “The Process” Embiid has almost singlehandedly made the Philadelphia 76ers fun to watch again (Instagram/@joelembiid).
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Four games into the season, the Philadelphia 76ers are again winless, and the franchise hasn’t won a pre-December regular-season game since the 2013-14 season. This time, however, Sixers fans are
enjoying the process marveling at Joel “The Process” Embiid rather than commiserating about tanking. Jake Fischer of SB Nation’s Liberty Ballers and SI.com joins the show and raves about Embiid’s impressive debut and transformative potential. Along with 2016 No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons, whose highly anticipated debut will have to wait, last season’s NBA All-Rookie First Team member Jahlil Okafor and rookie Dario Saric, Embiid’s emergence brings optimism back to Philadelphia basketball. Fischer also examines the Sixers’ glut of similar bigs and identifies the likely odd man out. Not since Iverson and Iguodala respectively crossed over opponents and soared through the sky has there been so much unbridled joy and passion around this fan base. Peep the excerpts below:
1:59-2:23: Fischer starts out describing the aforementioned new aura of positivity around the 76ers faithful: “It’s a complete 180 from the last couple years. There’s still the good-hearted humor of ‘Oh, I wonder which new way we’ll find out this team can lose a game tonight,’ but at the same time there’s an optimism now I think that fans truly have thought, at least in these first four games, that the team has a shot at winning every night just because Embiid’s out on the floor.”