I’ll be honest: The abrupt end to the run of FUN SIXERS BASKETBALL didn’t hit me as hard as it should’ve last month, mostly because my fallback was the number one team in college basketball. I had an eye toward March. On Saturday, the Wisconsin Badgers, with the help of the NCAA selection committee, stuck an ice pick through it. As I peered through the cyloptic hole in my head toward the future of Philly sports, I realized… there wasn’t much to look forward to, certainly no looming championships. But fret not, minions, there are, er, maybe 10 things, if we stretch it, to which we can look forward, or at least for me to get this Buzzfeed-y post out of. Leggo:
10) The NBA Draft Lottery
MUST BE SPRING IN PHILLY, because there’s a non-competition sporting event in which the participants carry lucky trinkets and succumb to the whim of bouncing ping pong balls. The Sixers, once again, have a shot at the top pick, and perhaps two very high ones. My first spin on the lottery machine and, oh, spurt spurt spurt:
The Sixers currently have an 8.8% chance of the top overall pick, can get the Lakers pick if it falls outside the top 3, and can choose to swap picks with the Kings if there’s is better. There are MANY different scenarios that can play out, and we’ll have more than one pick to watch for.
9) The return of Villanova
From the Roundup:
How good is Nova next year? Still pretty damn.
They lose Josh Hart, Kris Jenkins and Darryl Reynolds, which hurts. But Spellman will be an almost immediate upgrade over Reynolds. Jenkins, as much as he will forever be a part of Nova lore, is not a world-beater, and production can be replaced. Hart, obviously, won’t be replaced so easily.
But Nova returns all of its ball-handling guards, two of which are quickly becoming their stars: Jalen Brunson and Donte DiVincenzo. And they get back Phil Booth. Meanwhile, Mikal Bridges is rapidly improving and Spellman should give them a + big man for the first time in years. If Brunson, DiVincenzo and Bridges stick around for four years (I think all three could eventually play in the NBA), Villanova could be really, really good again in two years.
8) 2018 Royal Rumble
It’s in Philly. That is it.
7) Flyers offseason
Ever since Ron Hextall took over the GM-ing duties after Paul Holmgren got PROMOTED to president, trade deadline days and free agency have been less
fun exhilarating, in the way a coke-fueled handjob from a buzzsaw is exhilarating. I asked our hockey guru and exiled Flyers beat writer Dan for one or two quick thoughts here. Naturally:
Always succinct, Dan is.
6) Phillies spending spree
They could pay Bryce Harper in two years.
5) Phillies farm system
The Phillies have one of the game’s best farm systems, with much of that talent congregated at the upper levels of the minors in the form of position prospects. That’s a welcome sign for a team that scored the fewest runs in the majors in 2016.
hortstop J.P. Crawford, the team’s top prospect, didn’t take the big leap forward in 2016 the Phillies were hoping he would, but he’s still a potential cornerstone player who should be in Philadelphia at some point in 2017.
Catcher Jorge Alfaro, first baseman Rhys Hoskins and outfielders Nick Williams, Roman Quinn and Dylan Cozens all played at Double-A Reading or Triple-A Lehigh Valley in 2016 and should be among the help coming to the major league club in 2017. Center fielder Mickey Moniak, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 draft, is still at least a few years away, but he’s a high-upside talent at a premium position with promising skills on both sides of the ball.
And his name tattooed on his friend’s ass.
4) Flyers young players
Ivan Provorov. Shayne Gostisbehere. Travis Konecny. Samuel Morin. German Rubtsov. Travis Sanheim.
Of course, HockeyFutures.com reminds us of something all too familiar:
3) The NFL Draft
Hey, Philly is holding a big event. And it’s on the Parkway! We’ve never seen that before!
Though the NFL Draft might not mean as much for the Eagles’ future as the NBA Draft will mean for the Sixers’, Philly will be ground zero for sports punditry on the same sacred ground walked by the Pope, Rocky, and Major Drumstick. And ESPN will get to roll out a few snow balls references. Win!
2) Carson Wentz playing with real receivers
Next season will give us the first chance to 👀 what Carson Wentz can do with actual NFL receivers. He’ll have a premium number one receiver, a second option who can stretch the field, and a decent slot receiver. And Zach Ertz, should his balls remain firmly in his testicular sack like they were the last few games of last season.
By the end of next season, we should know if Carson Wentz is the next great quarterback. And if not, then oh swell Nick Foles is back!
1) Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons on the court together
This is fairly obvious. And let’s be honest, it probably won’t happen. Embiid will need another surgery, Simmons’ foot will get gangrene, and Dario Saric will get deported by Trump. But if it does, and we see Simmons, Embiid, Saric and [insert draft picks] on the floor together at the same time, we could be looking at the makings a championship team.
I’m not sure I feel much better.