USWNT Finishes Last

(gonna be really sloppy, i’m busy)

Finishing last in your own tournament, in your own country, and in front of your own fans is absolutely pathetic.

What we saw from our USWNT at the 2nd ever SheBelieves Cup was abysmal.

And yeah, I know we haven’t played together in months and that we have a bunch of new players out there. I know we’re playing the best teams in the world, in a sport where the competition continues to catch up, and that losing a game shouldn’t be surprising. However, the last time I checked, the United States was home to the best women’s soccer program in the world.

Of course, the last time I posted about the USWNT was after our disappointing Olympics exit. You know, where we didn’t even get a medal??? And here we are, with an even more disappointing result. And most importantly, no medals again. No trophy. What is going on?

Patrick McDermott/Getty Images North America

It’s absolutely bizarre that we cannot get anything going on offense. It’s not even close to a talent issue. We have playmakers like Tobin Heath, Christen Press, Alex Morgan, Crystal Dunn, Mallory Pugh that can terrorize opposing defenses. YET WE ONLY SCORED 1 GOAL IN 270 MINUTES! ….PLUS STOPPAGE TIME! HOW? And that one goal we did score was created entirely by Christen Press. She stole the ball from the defender, made a run, and delivered a fantastic strike off the crossbar. Luckily, we had players aware to go after the rebound and score.

We can’t rely on players handling stuff individually. We can’t just pray that Alex Morgan blows by the backline, teams aren’t stupid. We can’t hope that Tobin Heath breaks everybody’s ankles on the way to a goal. We gotta have good build-up and communicate; make good runs. Make passes and connections that’ll advance the ball up the field. I’m not seeing that. I may be blind.

The France game was so discouraging as a fan. Out the gate we got destroyed. France came out aggressive. (It’s like they knew the game was a must-win or something? Really odd!) First goal was off a beautiful pass thru our backline that earned a penalty. Second goal was another pass, this time from deep, that somehow found its way past our backline for another goal. At this point, I kinda figured that we’d find our way back, but then I remembered how trash our offense was. We didn’t even score a goal. Instead, France would score another goal to beat us 3-0.

It seemed like we didn’t care. I can point out one play. Rose Lavelle, who was outstanding this tournament, didn’t give up on a ball and created a chance by sending the ball back towards the middle, but her teammates gave up on the play leaving us with a blown opportunity. What could’ve been a goal for us and a spark for our team, ended up falling flat.

So we didn’t just get beat by effort, we got outplayed technically as well. It wasn’t a “oh we just missed our chances/the ball didn’t bounce our way” type of loss…it was a “We Lost” loss. This is not what USWNT soccer is about.

Patrick McDermott/Getty Images North America

It’s time to say it…again. Jill Ellis gotta go. She should’ve been gone. It’s ridiculous how we’re getting outplayed on every aspect recently, from technical to effort. This has gone on since the World Cup. We only won that because of how stellar our defense was, plus KO and Carli Lloyd. We’ve been had these issues offensively. This team doesn’t lack a leader on the field, they’re not babies…they lack direction from the coach.

I mean……WE FINISHED LAST DAWGGGG… HOW THE HELL

We had the opportunity to win it all and we didn’t ….even ….score….a goal.

The second we allow and accept mediocrity is when this program collapses. We got 2 years. Make the moves now.

Wait what

It wasn’t Jahlil Okafor who was traded…instead, it was our guy from Kentucky…the shot blocking, defensive guru who fixed his jumpshot…Nerlens Noel.

As much as it should hurt, I’m doing alright. Of course, I’m hurt that one of my favorite Sixers ever is leaving us, but I’m alright. It was Nerlens that made me like this. That gruesome draft night will be forever etched in my memories. As painful as that night was, losing one of my favorite players, it introduced me to the Process. Nerlens was the OG process.

Through all the changes in the organization over the years, from his best friend MCW leaving to his new best friend Ish coming and leaving twice, Nerlens remained. But the Process would eventually be his downfall. With Embiid coming back and Nerlens on the last year of his contract, a move seemed inevitable. No way we were going to pay max for a backup center and no way Nerlens was going to be fine coming off the bench.

YET, with Embiid’s injury issues and the team’s sorta success with Nerlens at the helm, the trade that I once found inevitable became unlikely. I smiled at the thought of Nerlens Noel coming off the bench to win the Finals for the Sixers, holding up the trophy with Embiid. This had to happen. No way the Colangelo’s were gonna let a guy who contributes on defense (one of the team’s biggest philosophies) leave, right?? Plus, Nerlens seemed happy with his role and the fact that the team he once saw lose so many times …was finally winning.

We needed to keep Nerlens.

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…and Nerlens got traded yesterday for two 2nd rounders and Justin Anderson.

I’m ok with the idea, but the execution was just awful. After seeing the Boogie return this week, I guess we couldn’t get much. But dude, a friggin’ 1-18 protected first round pick??? It’s laughable. Maybe it’s because of all the crazy deals we’ve conjured up in the past (thanks Sam) that I was expecting us to pull off another grandiose type of deal. Maybe it’s because I seem to forget Nerlens’ flaws and injury issues. Eh… it just doesn’t feel right to me.

Oh yeah, we traded Ersan Ilyasova. That deal went really well. Got back some 2nd rounders. So that Grant trade gave us a first and 2 2nd’s… not bad.

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At the end of the day, we lost two incredible players with no future for us for some assets. Ain’t that how it goes?

Thanks Ersan for being “the Professional.” You were critical in bringing that important veteranship, teaching guys like Dario Saric, who has progressed so much that he literally took your job. Thanks for putting your body on the line every night, leaving your body defenseless as players ran hopelessly into you for a charge. But seriously, thanks for helping us win again. You were a huge part of making Sixers basketball fun again and I’ll forever be thankful for that.

And thank you so much Nerlens Noel. I never understood the importance of defense until I saw you each night blocking the shit out of other players in the paint. Your rookie campaign was one of the best seasons I’ve ever seen of a player. When you blocked James Harden at the rim, I erupted in so much joy, I didn’t know it was possible to do that. I was glad you were our guy. I loved seeing you shine with Ish. You should’ve won rookie of the year. Lastly, to see you nail a jumpshot to beat the Bucks this year meant so much for me, because I knew you worked so hard on that, and you shot that ball with so much confidence that I can’t believe I doubted it was going to go in. I wish you the best in Dallas. They got a good one. And Ersan, do work in Atlanta.

Pick Swap Boyz

Hello, it’s been a while.

The Sacramento Kings have decided to blow it up. DeMarcus Cousins was traded for a 1st and 2nd rounder, along with Buddy Hield. Yup…

As someone who has advocated for the Kings to tank, this shouldn’t bother me. However, I said that they should tank while they still had Boogie, because the Kings were a few pieces away of being a playoff team, not a championship squad, but a playoff team.

For anyone following this awful blog, you know I’m a Sixers fan fully committed to the Process, or the idea of tanking. I don’t believe in mediocrity. It’s championship or bust. But the situation here is a lot different. These are Kings fans. I’m out here; I know these people. They’ve been dying to sniff the playoffs. They had something going this year. A great coach (Joerger), solid veterans (Temple, Tolliver, Afflalo, Matt Barnes kinda), and a couple good young pieces (Malachi Richardson, Willie Cauley Stein). They were fighting for an 8th spot. Yeah, the 8th spot is not really successful (record-wise), but it’s still the playoffs.

The Kings weren’t the best team, but they showed promises throughout the season as they grew accustomed to Joerger’s system. They beat the Cavs and Warriors, and even beat the Celtics without Boogie…….and Vivek blew it up.

Yeah, the Kings had a protected pick where they had to finish in the top 10 of the draft (bottom 10 of the standings) to keep it, but cmon guys…you coulda shelved Boogie on some fake injury like the Pelicans do every year with AD. Or do what the Sixers are doing now, delaying Simmons return and being extra “cautious” for Embiid.

The worst part of everything was the return. All the Kings got back was a 1st, 2nd, and Buddy Hield. What in the world? We’re talking the best center in the NBA. You gotta give me picks in this draft and next year’s draft and next year’s draft. Horrible return. If the Kings got the Nets picks from the Celtics, then it wouldn’t be so bad. Also, a decent prospect. Hield is not really worth it.

But if the Kings get lucky, Harry Giles could slip to the middle of first round and if they tank hard enough, maybe land Dennis Smith Jr. ? The core is going to be WCS and Malachi it seems.

Last point… it’s hard to find a superstar. The Kings had one. They weren’t going to be a championship squad, but they could’ve at least gave the loyal Kings fans a taste of the playoffs. Or at least give the man who gave his all to your organization a chance to compete for a title.

I’m gonna miss you Boogie. I’ll still root for you. I enjoyed watching your dominance in person.

Enough about the Kings……

PICK SWAP BOYZ!!!

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Oh my God. The biggest winner out of this trade is not the Pelicans…not the Kings….the damn Sixers. We win again.

Not only do we have a pick swap from a team that is tanking for the rest of this season…

We have the unprotected first round pick of a rebuilding team in it’s 2nd year (2019)…

Sam Hinkie, you mad man.

The idea of Lonzo Ball is intensifying. Or just a top 3 pick in general. The Lakers, Nets, and Suns have locked down the bottom 3. The Magic and Knicks are calling it quits. We’ll have our odds along with the Kings to get into the bottom 3.

And yeah, the 2019 idea of Zion Williamson exists.

THE SIXERS KEEP WINNING GAMES

What the HELL IS GOING ON??????

I was hesitant to post this, but Robert Covington just hit another game winner, this time against the sorta playoff team-ish Portland Trailblazers. I think it’s real now…

We’re going to the playoffs.

TJ Mcconnell beats Knicks

TJ Mcconnell beats Knicks

At least, we’re advancing to a higher tier. Flashback to my post 4 years ago. To recap, there are:

  • Bootsy Squads
  • Mediocre Squads that miss the playoffs
  • Mediocre Squads that make the playoffs
  • Elite Squads

I think we have finally graduated from the University of  “Bootsy squads” and are now at “Mediocre squads that miss the playoffs”…but wait….believe it or not, there’s a very good possibility that we might advance to the next tier within this season. Yes dude……..playoffs.

I last posted at the start of this year. Since then, things have changed. This team is finally meshing together. Nerlens Noel, who was infuriated with his situation on the team not too long ago, said that this is the closest Sixers squad he’s ever been on, and it clearly shows on the court.

They’re playing elite defense with Joel Embiid:

And for the first time, we’re finishing games. Either we’re coming back or we’re holding on to our leads.

It’s pretty crazy this run started against the Nuggets at Denver, because I remember when we lost a lead against them a few seasons back (March 2013). The Nuggets had a winning streak and we had a chance to end it. We screwed up pretty bad by missing our game clinching free throws AND then fouling the Nuggets at the 3 pt line to lose the game on free throws.

Flash forward to now. We beat the Nuggets at Denver, and this time we didn’t screw up, even though Jokic flopped at the end while attempting a 3 (irony). We won 124-122.

The win against the T’Wolves was even bigger. Remember, we got mopped by them on national TV weeks before. That game was excruciating to watch because I want the world to stop making fun of us…and we got spanked in front of everybody (that actually watched the game). So I wanted revenge. What’s awesome is that Embiid also wanted revenge. We always get the cliche, “it’s just another regular season game” response, so it was awesome to hear Embiid had this rematch marked on his calendar. I know he remembers getting schooled by KAT on a pump fake and drive for a dunk. I love that he cares.

And of course, we fucked it up. The Twolves came back and Ricky Rubio…(guess)….hit a 3 to tie the game up. I told you the T’Wolves made the right decision to pick this guy over Curry! At this point, I was getting ready for OT, there was no way Brett Brown was going to call a good play to win it, but…the ball floated in the air, to a leaping Covington at the rim. RoCo caught the ball and won it on a beautifully designed alley oop. What the hell.

It got more spooky.

We somehow came back from down 10 points with 2 minutes remaining against the Knicks. I’m glad I kept watching. It was going to be the same old story from before; the Sixers gettin mopped by double digits, but things have changed. Embiid made shots late along with RoCo, and TJ McConnell (finally) finished it with the game winner. I lost my shit watching it while eating dinner with my family, and I apologize to my Mom for paying more attention to TJ and for having my phone out at the dinner table 😦 . (I love you Mom)

Since that comeback, we’ve beaten some pretty good teams. It’s not just the Nets anymore Mom…

 

It’s pretty beautiful. That Raptors win ended a 14 game losing streak against them. That Bucks game, we came back in the 2nd half and put the clamps on the rising, young Giannis Antetokounmpo; plus Embiid went off again.

We went months (November, December) without winning a game. Now, we’re winning and it’s not a fluke. It’s real. 8-2, I’m not used to seeing that kind of a number (I’m a Rams fan if you can tell).

Even more beautiful is guys like TJ and RoCo, undrafted Hinkie guys, are getting it done. Nerlens even came thru with the clutch defense to win the game against Portland when Embiid went out.

The process is really processing. Ben Simmons isn’t even back. The Kings pick swap that we got along with Sauce is looking great (sadly, and happily). Lakers pick…well, I think they need it more than we do. As much as I’ve forgotten about the tank, I still really think this draft is critical to taking us to the next next level. But for now…

PLAYOFFS???

and I miss you Hollis Thompson, we won’t forget you…and I want Jerami Grant back.

Jeff Fisher is the Devil (Rams 2016 Season Recap)

This was the worst Rams season I’ve ever experienced. Yes, I’ve been through the 1-15 season. The 2-14 seasons. I’ve seen us when we’d get blown out in the first quarter. When our defense had nobody. When Steven Jackson wore his body down every play dancing behind an O-line that couldn’t block. This year was easily the worst.

It’s one thing to suck when you’re supposed to suck. But sucking when you have decent pieces on the team– that has shown the ability to win– is devastating. When Fisher first arrived, I gave this team about 3 years before we’d become competitors. Of course, we had issues with Sam Bradford that hindered our progression. But either way, it didn’t happen. While other teams like the Raiders (ESPECIALLY the Raiders) , Bucs, Titans have shown flashes of progression; we have REGRESSED. We’re almost back at one, except we have exceptional talent on our team to start with. We should’ve been like the Raiders, but we kept fucking up every single season and offseason. Whether it’s drafting busts like Greg Robinson or letting Janoris Jenkins go. Continuing to not find DECENT WRs. Continuing to find the shittiest offensive coordinators in the universe to coach our team. And of course, keeping Jeff Fisher as our coach. It’s tragic.

Yeah we had massive flaws coming into this season, but remember, we started this season 3-1 and could’ve easily been 8-2…YES, all of those games were winnable. Shit, we’d at least be 6-4.

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Let’s review the games after we started 3-1. The Bills game…winnable. Keenum pick 6 and yeah we had trouble stopping McCoy, plus that fake punt call by the Devil. Lions game…winnable. Keenum game ending INT. Giants game….winnable. Keenum threw 4 INTs. Jared Goff’s debut against the Dolphins…winnable. Couldn’t finish the game. After that, the season was long gone so I won’t consider those.

Thank the Lord. Thank you Jesus Christ. Thank you Based God. We fired that bum Jeff Fisher. Oh my God that dude sucks so much ass you have no idea how long that guy has tortured me and the rest of the fanbase that still exists (yes I’m looking at you Los Angeles, the fairweatherest of them all). I’ve been calling for his head for a couple seasons now. Yes, it’s dangerous to have an ever lasting coaching turnstile. Changing coaches every season hurts the players. The Rams gave it a chance, and we LOST…again…badly. We’ve wasted a few years with no progression at all. Robert Quinn is now battling injuries. We lost Stedman Bailey. James Laurinaitis, our all time leading tackler, got old. Janoris Jenkins left and is continuing to do well with the Giants.

We can’t afford to waste more years under Fisher. Thank goodness the organization figured it out.

Harry How/Getty Images North America

Harry How/Getty Images North America


What can I say about this season? IS there anything to say about this season?

This offense was just AWFUL. The worst.

Blame first lies on our offensive line. These guys cannot block. How many times did we see Gurley get swallowed up before reaching the line of scrimmage (I’ll get more into this later).

Then our WRs. These guys cannot catch (except Kenny Britt).

Then there’s the playcalling. We’ve fired our OC’s before, but we keep bringing in guys that were still attached to the system that wasn’t working in the first place. Cignetti was still part of the system. Rob Boras was still part of the system. As a result, we’ve been getting the same nonsense on offense every season. Thanks Fisher. Yes, Boras deserves some credit for creating any kind of offense production without a run game and receivers that can’t catch. But it was still a flawed offense that could not find ways to put points on the board.

Combine all these factors together and you got a middle school offense in the NFL.

Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images North America

Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images North America

What about the players?

The biggest thing to talk about this season was Todd Gurley‘s underwhelming season. There’s a lot of speculation. So what was it?

It was a combination of things. One, that O-line. They got dominated all year.

Two, it’s on Gurley too. As great as Gurley is in the open field, he’s not great battling tacklers at the line of scrimmage, which explains part of the struggle. He’s not LeSean McCoy. There’s also talk about his patience at the line. Unlike Steven Jackson, who danced at the line before rushing for a yard, Gurley would run straight into a lineman’s back. It may be true that Gurley could’ve found more yards if he had been more patient, but most of the time the holes got filled up with defenders due to bad blocking and no passing game to threaten the defense, who oftentimes loaded the box.

Gurley’s impatience might be because of frustration as well. We don’t know for sure, but I guarantee Gurley felt the heat and criticism, whether it was from beer-belly’d fantasy owners or the media looking for new ways to trash LA’s new team. It definitely wasn’t the fans in LA, who left the team once they realized we weren’t going to the playoffs. The criticism may have forced Gurley to lose patience as he desperately tried to find something to work. Even in his rookie year, Gurley would do most of his damage in the 2nd half. So when Gurley saw nothing happen at all, it must’ve gotten to him. The mental aspect of sports is really underrated.

What really pisses me off is how we never got Gurley going in the passing game. I think he can be like David Johnson from the Cards. He can be a multi purpose RB. And Gurley’s shown it too. Again, thanks Fisher.

I think Gurley will be fine next season.

Harry How/Getty Images North America

Harry How/Getty Images North America

JARED GOFF.

The benching was a great idea. Thanks Fisher. No really, it was a great idea. Though Goff has proven to have elite composure when handling tough situations, I think throwing him straight into the dumpster fire would have ruined him. He came in late when the season was pretty much over, allowing him to throw freely, like a young beautiful QB should. Even though he got sacked most of the time, he was at least able to get a feel of the game and make mistakes without being too hard on himself.

As for performance, Goff has shown promise. The pocket presence is there, which is something very valuable. The arm is there. I think the best game to look at is the Saints game. Not a big sample size, but I think this is the guy.

Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images North America

Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images North America

Kenny Britt might have entered my coveted “favorite Rams players of all time” list. Crazy to think that I hated him at first for taking Torry Holt’s number. That feeling quickly changed. This year was his best year as a Ram (in this offense, can you believe?). He became our first 1000+ yard receiver since Torry Holt (ironic, oh and that was in 2007). Britt is one of the few great things from the Jeff Fisher era. Thanks Fisher.

Johnny Hekker is my MVP this year. Another brilliant year kicking, and boy did he kick a lot this year. You can make fun of our team for a lot of things, but not because of our special teams unit. There’s a reason why Fassel was promoted to head coach when the devil got fired and there’s a reason why Fassel was brought back to the team.


 

Thankfully, there’s a new hope.

There’s HOPE. For once…

Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images North America

Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images North America

The Rams hired Sean McVay as the new head coach. Honestly, I was scared about the selection process. Yeah it wasn’t going to be Fisher, but there was still a good chance the new coach was going to suck too. Look around, it’s hard to find a good coach in the NFL. Yet here I am, happy we hired this handsome, well-groomed kid (almost as young as I am), with 0 head coaching experience, as head coach.

I’ve read about McVay, and I like him…A LOT. He’s from the Redskins tree, from the Grudens. He’s been praised as an offensive guru. That’s enough for me to like him.

This is great for our players. Goff will finally have a competent coach. Tavon Austin might finally be used right, instead of just a screen guy and a running back to run up the gut (Thanks Fisher). Gurley might finally use his talents in the passing game, and get pressure off him when we don’t make him the sole focus of our offense. It’s beautiful.

That’s not all…

We hired Wade Phillips. This dude won a championship with Peyton Manning throwing ducks on the opposite end. Think about that. In other words, he ran a really really elite defense. Yeah, he had Aqib Talib, Von Miller, and Ware; but we got Tru, Tree, Donald, Barron, and Quinn. Think about that too.

I’ll miss Gregg Williams. As much as fans are sick of that old coaching staff, Williams led one of our only shining spots during the Fisher era: the Mob Squad. Overly aggressive and sometimes dirty, the Mob Squad was fun to watch. We weren’t exactly a shut down defense, but we always seemed to get it done. It was pretty sad that our offense couldn’t support them.

Of course, things aren’t all perfect now. We still desperately need a great offensive line and a go-to WR. Doesn’t help that we have no draft picks. But for now, things are a lot better.

There’s a chance we can make a splash next season, although I think it’ll be a 6-10 season since it’ll be the first year under a new system with a new QB. But there’s a chance and that’s all that matters to me. That never existed under Fisher. It’s fun to have hope.

Go Rams!

Jeff Gross/Getty Images North America

Jeff Gross/Getty Images North America

the logjam

Been one hell of a year huh?

At this point last year, we were winless (I actually think we won 3, I started writing this a long time ago sorry) and I was struggling to find any reason to believe the Sixers had any kind of future. We weren’t getting the #1 pick and maybe not the 2nd pick. Dario Saric was stuck overseas and probably was never going to play for us. Joel Embiid was beginning the 2nd year of his foot recovery and it came to a point where I truly believed he was never going to step foot on a basketball court ever again.

Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

And here we are

We actually did get the #1 pick and got the 6’10 point forward from LSU, Ben Simmons. He unfortunately had an ankle injury, but he’s a few weeks away from making his debut.

Dario stayed true to his “word,” like any honorable man would, and came to Philly this season. He’s been earning our love so far by playing his heart out on every possession.

And Embiid…well, the dude finally played and he’s the superstar we’ve been looking for. You can read my post about him earlier.

We’re still the worst team in the league, BUT it’s ok! This upcoming draft class may be the final piece to this complex puzzle.


 

This season has brought some interesting topics. Here are my notes so far.

Is Joel Embiid good?

Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

He’s the greatest player ever.

Dude, I did not expect him to be this good. Yes, it’s true that he’s been working out during all that time off, but he hasn’t played competitive basketball in 2+ years! His first game, playing professional basketball, was the first time he dropped 20 in a basketball game! Sixers fans have been dreaming about this guy for a couple years now, and to finally see him out there and dominating is breathtaking. I already kinda wrote about him already, but I guess I’ll add on.

Joel has an insane desire to win. I know it sounds cliche, but Jojo does everything it takes to get a W. He’s jumping into the crowd! This guy knows he had a pretty significant foot injury for the last two years, yet he’s still diving into the stands like a madman!

LOOK AT HIM

LOOK AT HIM

To add on, I remember after another tough loss, during a time when we were experimenting the two big lineup, Jojo gave us a pretty interesting interview. Instead of the usual interview, something like “we’re just doing the best for the team and trying things out to see if it works, gotta do what coach says blah blah”….Joel said that it sucks. He straight up said that he couldn’t work with Okafor out there. It’s a small detail that most people probably didn’t notice, but it really stuck out to me. It’s great but worrisome at the same time. It’s awesome that Jojo is super competitive and wants to dominate, but during this rebuilding stage, how much losing will he be able to take? We all saw Jojo kick a chair when he couldn’t play in OT. And we all know what happened with Durant in OKC.

Joel has been improving every game. He’s a learner. You’re not seeing the same mistakes every game. He used to have foul troubles, now he’s getting the other team in foul trouble. He’s getting smarter and that should make us all smile. Maybe we’ll get that Olajuwon offseason workout, who knows.

For those worried about his health? So far I’ve seen Embiid roll his ankle before a game and still play. He rolled his ankle DURING a game and still played (had a dunk). I’ve seen Jojo jump into the crowd and get back up. He’s ran the entire court and fell hard trying to get a block…got back up. He’s tough as nails. Don’t worry about Jojo. And if anything goes wrong, remember that we have the best medical/training staff to take care of him. We’ve been taking care of Jojo so well for the past few years and it’s finally paying off.

We are so lucky to have Joel Embiid on our team.

Is the Jah experiment over?

Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

I came off of Jah’s first year full of high expectations. Expecting him to have worked on his jumpshot and his pick and roll defense. I haven’t seen much. I’ve been told it’s an effort issue. And yeah, there are times where Jah puts in effort and the results are incredible. But what we’re seeing this season are the issues presented last season. He’s still an offensive blackhole. Yeah he can score off the post and one-on-one. But he never passes the ball, and I know this very well. Embiid’s passing way better in the post than Jah and he just came back from injury.

Jah’s defense will forever be a problem unless he puts in work. The Celtics’ Isaiah Thomas literally said that he wanted to get Jah off pick and rolls every time because he knew it was easy buckets. Of course, we lost that game.

Jah’s main asset is his scoring. This year he isn’t as aggressive as before, but that may be because of him trying to fit into our offense, which requires a lot of handoffs and screens. So he’s not looking to attack as much as before. Without his offense, Jah needs to step up doing other things, like rebounding and defense. What kills me is that he’s shown he can do those things. He’s rebounded well in games and he’s played tough defense. I seen him grab offensive rebounds and I’ve seen him lock down and block things inside. We just can’t get it on a nightly basis and it can be infuriating.

And the two bigs thing ain’t working.

What do we do with Nerlens/Okafor?

Nerlens is done in Philly. We’re not going to pay him and somebody else will. With Embiid back and Nerlens’ showing no ability to serve at the 4, there’s no point in keeping our fav guy on the team. Unless Nerlens is cool with coming off the bench and getting paid less, then don’t expect Nerlens to be back next season. It’s not the reality. It’s not even a reality that can be created in a videogame. It makes no sense. At least get something for him. I know a lot of us Sixers fans value Nerlens a bit too high, so we might get mad at what we get back. I hope we get picks.

There’s still a slight bit of hope Okafor takes the next step. But for right now. He’s a bench player that has to be thrown out in key situations.

What do the Sixers need?

Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

Like last year, we had winnable games this season.

There’s a lot of reasons why we lose games but I can tell you how we win. It’s when we play defense and shoot well. Pretty simple. There’s also limiting turnovers and finishing games better, but we need to play defense and make our shots. We always struggle with teams that score well, but we’re always in games where the opponent struggles shooting. Sooo why not focus on defense? No matter what, defense will always win championships.

The Sixers need to prioritize defense and shooting, in that order.

I’ve been keeping an eye on other teams. Yeah they score well and all that, but they don’t play deeefennnnnnsse. That’s why they always loooooose. (Lakers/Timberwolves) Who cares about points if you don’t play defense on the other end?

When’s the last time the Sixers had guards that could play defense? MCW? KJ? How long do I have to watch Okafor on defense? It’s clear what we need. Now that we have Simmons/Embiid, we can start building around. We already have two great defenders on our squad right now with Covington and Embiid. At this point, Embiid is serving as a safety net for our guards (a really huge, athletic saftey net), covering up our guards’ defense. Imagine if we have guards that can play D.

Shooting wise, I’m getting sick of watching us brick shots. The scoring droughts have to stop. I love Sergio Rodriguez, he’s cool and the behind the back passes are awesome, but can we find guards that have a consistent mid range bucket?

I’ll get more into this part at the end of the post.

Is Brett Brown our coach of the future?

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Me / Big Booty Express Images

We’ve all grown attached to Brett as he’s been with us since day 1. I even called him the best pickup we’ve had during the process. But as we’ve become a bit more competitive (roster wise), we’ve began to notice his flaws. It’s clear that Brett is not a good playcaller and struggles late. His play calls out of timeouts at the end of games have to be some of the worst in league history. It’s just baffling. We can’t inbound the damn ball or construct a decent last shot play. You can’t blame it on the roster either.

There’s still roster issues that have been holding him back. You can’t blame Brett for defensive issues as of right now, that’s roster issues. You can’t blame scoring droughts when we can’t make our shots. There have been questionable lineups out there, but we’re “experimenting.”

I say we keep our coach and wait for Ben Simmons and our picks next year. He’s still a great player coach and he finds ways to keep this team competitive. We’ve shown more fight this year than previous seasons, but that again could be the roster itself.


Extra Notes:

Nik Stauskas had a stretch where he looked like the guy that Vivek Ranadive fell in love with years ago. You gotta remember that the mental aspect of the game is very important. It seemed that Stauskas got his confidence back. He found a way to balance being aggressive to the rim and hitting outside shots. It was wonderful to watch.

Jerami Grant got traded 😦 . Our 2nd round gem, member of the Process. He came into this season with a new, improved jumpshot. Sadly, there was no more future here for Grant.

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Ersan Ilyasova might be my co-MVP this year. I didn’t really know too much about Ersan before. From his time with us so far, I’ll say this…he’s a baller. He’s gotten probably the biggest green light ever in Philly and has made the most out of it, making big shot after big shot. Most importantly, he came into this team with that valuable “veteranship” that every young team needs. As you know, the whole veteran thing has been a revelation to me these past couple seasons. Ersan was a great pick up. Also, he’s really good at taking charges.

Robert Covington is also very low-key MVP. Can you believe the fans booed him this season? Yea, it’s true, RoCo seems to have lost his shot. But his defense has been phenomenal and probably one of the best in the league. Also, lately he’s been attacking the rim, something I’ve never seen from him before. He had a game where he scored like 20+ points while only hitting a few outside shots. If he can get back that 3, then he’ll be devastating. I know he still has it. But right now, that shot seems lost. I don’t know what it is. I feel like he’s just “throwing up” shots. His shot has a huge arch and it’ll either be too short or off direction wise. It may be mechanics?

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I love Dario Saric…a LOT. Yeah, I loved him before he even stepped on the court after he stayed true to his word and came here after 2 years overseas. The thing I love most about Dario, besides his NBA skills, is his drive. He’s always putting 100000% out on the court. He’s always fighting for rebounds and he’s there to take the big shot as well. His offensive game is NBA ready. He has an outside shot, but his money’s at mid-range and in the post. However, he lost the starting nod to Ersan and he’s also a victim of the Okafor experiment. He needs more minutes. I think he can fit with Simmons and Embiid (assuming Simmons is 3 on defense), we’ll see. But Dario is awesome so far.

TJ McConnell is still living the NBA dream. His time with us should be coming to an end, sadly. But while he’s here, let’s just enjoy our non shooting, circles around the hoop PG from Arizona. He almost had a triple double against Detroit, I was kinda sad. We still won the game but I wanted that triple double soo bad. Hopefully we’ll see the TJ+Ben ship later this season.

We need to give TLC more minutes.


DRAFT PICK UPDATE

We look to be in the top 3 again. I doubt we get #1 again, we might get #4 lol.

I worried about that top-3 protected Lakers pick this year because I felt that they didn’t make a big improvement in the offseason. Surprisingly, they began the season 10-10 and I began to worry that the pick would be too low. Then, they finally sank to reality. They’ve gone 2-15 since and now I’m getting worried. I can see it being a #6 pick if they don’t jump in. But the Lakers might decide to tank with the season gone. With the early success, I don’t see the Lakers just giving up. I think the pride of the young guys will be too much and force them to be competitive. Plus the owner is probably feeling the pressure. They aren’t an awful team. We’ll see what they do, because the Lakers would really like a guy from this year’s draft. I know Mark Cuban isn’t an idiot and so is Pat Riley so hopefully they out tank the Lakers.

But yeah…anyway…

I think if you’re a Sixers fan (with free time) you’re watching/following college basketball this season. At least you’re aware of this upcoming draft class, which is STACKED.

This might be the last year I follow college/high school basketball because you know, Sixers comin back! However, I’ll admit that I’ve had way too much fun watching high school highlights/mixtapes on youtube. I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve become infatuated with the Ball brothers at Chino Hills and may have kept an eye on young Julian Newman. Yeah, I’m one of those guys that are going nuts over Zion Williamson. Plus, this college basketball has been really fun to watch this season. UCLA has a fun team that runs a better offense than us. Kentucky, Duke, Kansas…bunch of teams are competitive this season.

Anyway, let’s talk about the players…

We’re trying to add on to our Ben Simmons/Embiid core, so ideally, we’re looking to build our back court. Maybe we can squeeze a wing. But I prioritize finding guards. I already mentioned what we need earlier. But to reassess, defense and shooting. Remember that Ben Simmons will be the main ball handler. With that said here’s my list so far:

1. MARKELLE FULTZ

Markelle is ridiculous. His offense is unfair. I’ve seen him hit tough pull up jumpers, split screens, and finish strong with a dunk driving down the lane with a defender on him. It seems effortless to him. He gets it done on the other end too.

He’s the best fit for us. He can dominate on his own, but imagine adding him with Simmons and Embiid? That’s really not fair.

The question is: If we land outside #1 (assuming he’s the #1 guy), do we trade up for him? Would you bundle up two picks for this guy??? Huge question. I would. But then again, look at the guys available.

2. MALIK MONK

Ethan Miller/Getty Images North America

Ethan Miller/Getty Images North America

Malik is a guy that’ll probably be taken outside the top 5, but he’s a must for the Sixers. I saw him drop a ridiculous 47 pts on the Tar Heels in Vegas. He did it all. 3 pointers outside, creating his own shots, and using his athleticism to drive inside for buckets.

He’s the perfect off ball guy for us. He has a mean pull up shot that will translate perfectly in the NBA because he jumps so high. His 3 pt shooting has been proven and he’s been playing a majority of his minutes with De’Aaron Fox as the point guard. He has the athleticism and handle to create his own shots if needed. Plus, he’s clutch. Having this guy receive passes from Simmons is a dream. But we have to see if the Sixers are willing to pass up other talent to grab a guy who fits. It’s BPA all over again. Don’t get it wrong again….but I’ll get to this later.

Of course, he has downside. I talked about defense being a big factor. Monk’s size can be an issue on defense. I feel his offense outweighs his defensive struggles and with guys like Embiid and Cov, we might be able to mask it.

3. FRANK NTILINIKA

Speaking of defense, there’s Frank.

I don’t see much of Frank. He’s an overseas guy so we don’t have the benefit of having multiple guys upload his highlights on Youtube. But from what I’ve heard, Frank is special. A 6’5 defensive dream with offensive flashes. I think he’s the best defensive guard in this draft.

I’m not sold offensively but it exists. Once I see the offense is there, he’ll easily jump Monk for me.

4. DENNIS SMITH JR

Dennis Smith is also special. My only gripe about him is his size (6’2). But Dennis has a complete offensive game. He can score from anywhere and use that athleticism to yam it inside. Offensively, he’ll be fine in the NBA. I’m kinda worried if he can be an off ball guy and if he can offer us anything else (rebounding).

Of course there’s the defensive issues.

5. JOSH JACKSON

It’s kind of a toss up with him and Dennis right now for me.

I’ve heard of the Wiggins comparison, except Jackson does a bit more. He can pass, drive inside, and play defense. His athleticism isn’t Wiggins, but it’s there.

The only thing that I don’t like about Jackson is his shooting ability and where he’s gonna fit with us. I hear Jackson can guard 1-4, which is highly valuable. We haven’t seen Simmons with us yet, but when he does, we’ll get a better idea of what spots we need to fill up. I’m guessing we’ll move Simmons to 4. One thing I do know is that spacing is critical with Simmons and passing to somebody who can’t shoot isn’t ideal.

6. JONATHAN ISAAC

Is this guy the true baby KD? An actual KD?? 6’10 guy who can shoot the 3, pass, rebound. Not a guard, but having this guy with Simmons and Embiid could be something. He’s a guy to consider with the Lakers pick if we get it.

Tim Bradbury/Getty Images North America

Tim Bradbury/Getty Images North America

7. LONZO BALL

My personal favorite in this class, but not particularly my favorite on the Sixers.

Lonzo is a 6’6 true PG. His IQ is really high. He’s really good at passing the ball to his teammates (very Simmons-like), which is part of the reason why UCLA’s been great this year. He’s sneaky quick. Not De’Aaron Fox-like, but he can get by. His handle is fine and can create his own shot, mostly because defenders have to respect his range, which is deadly.

A lot of people worry about his jumpshot, and it’s fair. He’s making it slower by raising it up from his left side. Unlike others’ jumpshot, I swear it’s fixable.

Problem with Ball is his role is already taken by Ben Simmons. The one thing that I’d argue for Ball is that his shooting/range is NBA level. He just needs to be more of an off-ball guy like Monk. We’re not going to see that right now at UCLA. I think his IQ is good enough to be great in NBA, and hell, maybe on our team.

8. JAYSON TATUM

Tatum’s offensive game is pure. My only issue is that I get too much Jah vibes from him, maybe because it’s Duke. Tatum at least plays defense. I think Tatum is too much of a ball dominant guy. We need movement if anything. He can shoot the 3, but he’s more of an inside guy. I think he fits worse than Ball.

He’s still one of the top guys in this draft, but I’d rather take other players over him…which is where the BPA thing comes into play. We’ll see how smart the Colangelos are.

9. DE’AARON FOX

Fox is John Wall. His shooting is worrisome. But his quickness and size is enough to make anybody consider him. He’s too quick.


Can’t wait for Ben Simmons’ debut. See you then.

Week 17: Hello Offseason

The worst season of Rams football has finally ended. Another losing season.

There’s absolutely nothing to look forward to.

Sigh…I’ll get more into that in the season recap which I should start today.

Anyway…

  • I hope this isn’t Larry Fitzgerald‘s last game.
  • I think this is Brian Quick‘s last game.
  • We need an offensive line badly.
  • Michael Thomas caught a pass and ran for a first down, bring this guy back next season.
  • Please get us an offensive line.
  • Jared Goff almost died today. Nobody to throw to. No blocking
  • Gurley ran into a wall every play.
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images North America

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images North America

Season’s done.