Former St. Joseph’s Star Jameer Nelson To Sign With Dallas Mavericks

Jameer Nelson Dallas Mavericks

Photo by Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

If you pay attention to the Philadelphia college basketball scene at all, then you no doubt remember the 2003-04 season and what the St. Joseph’s Hawks and point guard Jameer Nelson accomplished that year. The team, led by Nelson and his backcourt teammate Delonte West, took the Hawks to a perfect regular season record of 27-0 and a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The team went all the way to the Elite Eight and was within a heartbeat of the Final Four before the Oklahoma State Cowboys put an end to their magical season.

Nelson, who became a local and national standout thanks to the Hawk’s incredible run, averaged 20.6 points and 5.3 assists per game that year and landed on the cover of Sports Illustrated, the first A10 athlete to do so since 1988. In 2004 he was drafted No. 20 overall by the Denver Nuggets but was traded to the Orlando Magic, where he would spend the next 10 seasons becoming a mainstay of the team and helping them go to the NBA Finals. He averaged 12.1 points and 7 assists per game during the 2012-13 season, what would eventually become his last with the Magic, getting waived by the team on June 30, 2014.

To say Nelson means a lot to the city of Philadelphia is a huge understatement. A local guy who played high school ball in Chester, PA, every time the Magic would play the Sixers at the Wells Fargo Center it was always a party, with St. Joe’s alum filling the place to the rafters. It was the one time each season you really didn’t mind the fans rooting for the opposing team.

So everyone in Philly was thrilled to hear this week that Nelson has signed a two-year deal with the Dallas Mavericks for $2.7 million. He is expected to compete with Raymond Felton and Devin Harris for minutes, but the Mavericks have made it clear they wanted someone with Nelson knowldege and leadership skills on the court. For Nelson’s part, he seems thrilled, saying to the Dallas Morning News:

“This is how I look at things – one day at a time. It’s a process. It’s a process to be a good team and to win games. They already have a great pedigree here and I’ve been a winner, so I think it’s a good fit for me.”

I know everyone in Philadelphia wishes Nelson nothing but the best. I never would have thought of myself as rooting for the Dallas Mavericks, but now’s as good a time as any to start.

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Sam Hinkie’s Rebuilding Process Well Worth the Wait

Sam Hinkie Philadelphia 76ers

Photo by Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

There’s an innumerable assortment of expressions that could be used to describe the Philadelphia 76ers General Manager Sam Hinkie. Some notable ways to define Hinkie are seen with his everlasting patience, sometimes questionable boldness, uncanny secrecy, and most importantly, his assuring confidence in the rebuilding plan that’s hooked Sixers’ fans on optimism for the future. By simply looking at the entirely new landscape of basketball in The City of Brotherly Love after Hinkie took the reigns, the one thing that screams clarity is management’s refusal to settle for mediocrity any longer. Hinkie longs for greatness back on the hardwood in Philadelphia, which is why his rebuilding process is well worth the wait.

Flashback to the 2013 NBA Draft when Hinkie dealt the 76ers All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday away to New Orleans for an undersized rookie with an injured ACL in Nerlens Noel. It was a move that baffled Sixers’ fans, all the while, destroying the ‘middle of the pack’ culture that surrounded the 76ers for the past decade.

During his introductory press conference with the Sixers, as noted in a post by Bleacher Report’s Grant Hughes, Hinkie stated, “I start with an end in mind in everything I do, and I’ll tell my staff to do the same. Here, that’s compete for championships.”

So how does Hinkie plan on going about building this championship team out of the debris left by one of the worst teams in NBA history?

Michael Cater-Williams Philadelphia 76ers

Photo by Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Well, just as Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey told The News Journal, “He won’t stop until he builds a dynasty up there in Philly. He’s going to build Lego brick by Lego brick, and there’s no chance he won’t succeed.” Continue reading

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Summer League Recap: A Very Successful Two Weeks For The Sixers

It’s fair to say that fans and analysts alike may put too much emphasis on the NBA summer leagues and what can be learned from watching them. I mean, we’re talking about two weeks worth of JV basketball being played by players who are either fresh from college or just hoping to make a squad when the regular season begins.

Nerlens Noel Philadelphia 76ers

Photo by AP

That being said, there are times when the summer leagues mean more to a team and their fanbase than you would think, and the Sixers fall squarely into that category. Excitement was at a fever pitch as everyone was anxious to see Nerlens Noel finally take the court after a year of warming the bench. Everyone was also looking forward to seeing 2014 second round draft picks K.J. McDaniels and Jerami Grant play, since both are the likely the only players from that draft we’ll see in a Sixers uniform this year.

And now, after 11 games played between two cities, I think we can all agree that the 76ers had a very good two weeks.

It goes without saying that the highlight of the summer leagues was Noel. He ended up playing in five games, several back-to-backs, and showed everyone why there’s a good chance that if he didn’t tear his ACL, he would have gone No. 1 in 2013. Noel finished the summer league with 13.4 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game, which is great to see, especially that shot blocking stat. He showed glimpses throughout what kind of defensive player he is going to be and that the Sixers’ defense under the rim is going to improve drastically from last year.

Speaking of defense, McDaniels also didn’t disappoint, averaging 9.7 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.2 blocks. But where McDaniels impressed the most was when the Sixers played the Cleveland Cavaliers and he drew the tough job of guarding Andrew Wiggins, the No. 1 pick of the 2014 draft. During the 20 minutes they were on the court together, McDaniels held Wiggins to just four points and showed why he won ACC Defensive Player of the Year while at Clemson. Continue reading

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NBA Lottery Changes Won’t Derail The Sam Hinkie Plan

Sam Hinkie Philadelphia 76ers

Photo by David Dow/NBAE

We all knew this was coming.

After both the Sixers and the Milwaukee Bucks made it so blatantly obvious they were tanking last season in order to increase their chances of landing the first pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, we knew changes were going to be made to the draft lottery. It was inevitable and, some would say, very necessary since as much as tanking works and is the best way to improve your team in today’s NBA, it’s not very fun to watch.

Of course, the irony in this whole situation is that neither the Sixers nor the Bucks, two teams that actively tanked the season, got the first pick. It instead went to the Cleveland Cavaliers who had just a 1.7% chance of landing the first overall pick and did so for the third time in four years.

The new system, which was revealed Wednesday, evens the odds of landing the first pick in the draft for the four worst teams to around 11%. Also, instead of the order of just the first three picks being selected by ping pong balls, it would be expanded to the first six picks. What all that means is that it will be that much harder to land that coveted first overall pick no matter how bad your record is. Unless of course you’re the Cavaliers.

And while changes were anticipated, I didn’t think anyone was expecting that it was going to happen so fast. Continue reading

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The Impact Of LeBron James On Andrew Wiggins

James-Wiggins

Friday, July 11, 2014. A day that will be important to anyone related to the NBA forever. For NBA writers, it was the day they could finally start to see some free agent dominos start to fall and the day they could stop waiting for LeBron James to announce his decision (2.0). For fans in Miami it was the day they realized they can end up just as disappointed and jilted as every other fanbase. For me it was a day of infinite sadness as the Houston Rockets decided to trade Jeremy Lin to the Los Angeles Lakers instead of the Sixers as had been reported for weeks. Seriously, I’m going to be sad about this forever. For fans in Cleveland, it was a ray of hope. And for the Cleveland Cavaliers themselves, it was a day when they learned they would play the next number of seasons with the greatest player in the NBA. This impact of this will be felt by all of the players, but none more so than 2014 No. 1 pick Andrew Wiggins.

After the draft there was a single piece of silver lining for Andrew Wiggins – that there was no way he could have had a worse rookie year than 2013 No. 1 pick Anthony Bennett. But really, that was it. This is a desperate fan base and he would have been their third potential franchise savior since LeBron left. This is a fanbase that has been teased and promised that their squad was on the rise. That everything would be done to make them winners. That there were no more lottery picks coming. With each they found themselves a fanbase that constantly felt themselves being let down on every promise. So to say that there was pressure on Wiggins to produce and produce right away on all that potential everyone said he had.

Not too much to put on a 19 year old right? Well, Andrew Wiggins, your prayers have been answered, because now you get to play with the best basketball player in the world. And when you get to play with the best basketball player in the world, the pressure tends to go to him. Not only that, this is a guy who once turned Mo Williams into an All-Star, so it should prove really quickly that he’ll have nothing but a positive impact on Andrew Wiggins (provided the Cavs don’t trade him for Kevin Love that is). Continue reading

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It Looks Like Nerlens Noel Is For Real

Nerlens Noel Philadelphia 76ers

Photo by Fernando Medina/Getty Images

As the Sixers slogged their way through a 19-63 record during the 2013-14 season and an inevitable date with the draft lottery, there was hope on the horizon. On the sidelines sat Nerlens Noel, a 6’11 center out of the University of Kentucky that Sam Hinkie had brought to the Sixers thanks to the Jrue Holiday trade with the New Orleans Pelicans. Many have said that Noel would have gone first in the 2013 NBA Draft if not for the ACL he tore in his left knee. The injury saw him drop to the sixth overall pick and into a Sixers uniform.

It was understood that Noel was more than likely going to sit out the entire 2013-14 season so he could rehab his knee. And while the fans weren’t necessarily happy, we understood. If it meant he would be 100% the following year, let him sit, work on his jump shot and we’ll see what he could do next season.

Next season has arrived and as the NBA Summer League got underway, the biggest question Sixers fans had was if Noel was worth the wait. Was he as good as Hinkie has led us to believe? Well, if you watched the Sixers at all during the Orlando Pro Summer League, you know that the question has been answered resoundingly.

Nerlens Noel is for real and the future is looking very good for the 76ers.

The Sixers decided to be careful with Noel, playing him in only a few back-to-back games, but there can be no doubt that he has skills, especially on the defensive side of the ball. In Orlando Noel averaged 3 blocks and 2.3 steals per game and against the Cleveland Cavaliers he had 4 blocks and 2 steals. One of those blocks was a statement move against last year’s No. 1 draft pick Anthony Bennett which seemed like it was meant to send a message. Continue reading

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Allen Iverson Or Dwyane Wade: Which Was Better?

Allen Iverson Dwyane Wade

Photo from Getty Images

NBA success is largely spoken of in terms of championships and how many pieces of sports most sought-after jewelry you can boast. But every now and then you have a diamond in the rough who was never able to place a diamond upon his own hand, whether it be for one reason or another. If you ask me, greatness is much more than just raising the trophy at season’s end and when it comes to the increasingly popular, barber shop style debate between Allen Iverson and Dwyane Wade as to who is the NBA’s greatest shooting guard of all-time, I have to give Iverson the upper hand.

Of course, many will completely resent the statement that a guy who was constantly finding himself amidst off-court distractions is greater than someone with three NBA Championships, and two in the last three seasons. But again, greatness is so much more than just championships. For example, you have to consider, not only the loaded stat sheets the player’s ability to perform at the highest level every single night, but the impact they have on the game and the culture surrounding it.

First of all, when we’re comparing one of the most electrifying superstars in sports history in Iverson to a proven champion a future Hall of Famer in Wade, the statistics are strikingly similar, yet miles apart. Iverson finished his career with 24,368 points, which is good for 22nd in NBA history. Wade currently sits at 17,481 points and given the condition of his knees among other things, it’s a near impossible feat for Wade to conclude his career putting up the usual eye-popping numbers that Iverson’s fans grew accustom to seeing en route to an illustrious scoring career.

But the stats don’t stop at just the points. Iverson tops Wade in career assists by 1,323, which is a mark Wade will likely never catch as his assists numbers have been on a steady decline since 2009. AI is also 12th all time in steals with 1,983, 721 more than Wade, which is another feat Wade is almost unsure to surpass.

But one could argue that Iverson was simply a stat-stuffer and his winning pedigree fades in comparison to Wade’s three NBA Championships. It’s true that championships speak volumes, but NBA history speaks just as loudly, as not even some of the greatest ever won championships on their own – something Iverson was. Continue reading

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Sixers Win The Orlando Pro Summer League Championship

Sixers-OPSL-Champions

Yes, it’s the NBA Summer League.

Yes, it counts just as much as exhibition games do in the NFL.

Yes, most of the players who participated aren’t going to be on the team this season.

But damn, does it feel good to be able to use the words “Sixers” and “Championship” in the same sentence.

On a day when LeBron James finally announced that he would be taking his talents back to the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Sixers won the Orlando Pro Summer League Championship by beating the Memphis Grizzlies 91-75. The Sixers did it with just eight players suited up and with both Nerlens Noel and K.J. McDaniels sitting on the bench.

Hollis Thompson led for the Sixers with 21 points and six rebounds, followed by Casper Ware with 19 points and 11 rebounds. St Joe’s product Ronald Roberts Jr. continued to impress all the right people and might find himself in an NBA uniform if he can continue to play solid basketball during the Samsung Summer League in Las Vegas. The Sixers begin their second week of summer league play with a whole new roster when it kicks off Saturday night against the Utah Jazz. Continue reading

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The Sixers Signing Jeremy Lin Would Be A Great Idea All Around

Jeremy Lin Houston Rockets

Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

As the constant speculation about where LeBron James will decide to take his talents next continues, the rest of the NBA waits and makes plans. And some of those plans might just include the Sixers and some of their highly coveted cap space.

If seems that if James decides to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers, it would set events in motion that would send Jeremy Lin of the Houston Rockets to Philadelphia. James going to Cleveland would mean that Chris Bosh would then leave the Miami Heat and sign a four-year, $88 million contract with the Rockets. That would mean the Rockets would have to clear some cap space to make that happen and would ship Lin and the final year of his $14 million contract to Philadelphia (only $8.3 of which goes against the cap). In addition, the Sixers would get a first round draft pick and maybe more in the deal.

The end result is that “Linsanity” would reign at the Wells Fargo Center during the 2014-15 season.

While some would say that the Sixers are wasting their money and time on a player like Lin, despite the draft picks we would also secure, there are a whole lot of great reasons a deal like this makes perfect sense for the Sixers and Sam Hinkie.

Two words: draft picks

Hinkie has proven time and time again that he likes to have options. Lots of options. He has also said he wants to build his Sixers team primarily through the draft, which takes picks. Lots of picks. Getting a first round pick from the Rockets in return for simply paying Lin’s salary next season is a no-brainer, especially since it won’t cost the Sixers a thing in resources. Continue reading

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What If Andrew Bynum Was Never A 76er? Part 2

In Part 1 of this piece we looked at what might have happened to the Sixers in the 2012-2013 season if the Andrew Bynum trade was never made. This part will look closer at the offseason in 2013 and then into the 2013-14 season.

Doug Collins Philadelphia 76ers

Photo by Ron Cortes

Let’s recap where our collective fan mind is in this hypothetical trip we’re taking. We just finished the 2013 playoffs. The Sixers made the playoffs again as a low seed in the East and had gotten us to really start believing in them again as they pushed the No. 2 seed Knicks to seven games before succumbing. We continue to tell ourselves that the difference between us and them isn’t that great, despite the fact that we have no go to scorer, that Evan Turner still hasn’t blossomed, and Andre Iguodala has gotten out of the 1st round of the playoffs just once. We hang our hat on Jrue Holiday’s supposed development and pray for more.

How does the offseason go?

There are two big questions here. What happens with Doug Collins? He has always been notorious for burning out himself and his team within three years. It’s usually a precipitous fall in the record that causes it. This would have been his 2nd first round exit in three years. It would have been a team that fell back towards a perpetual .500 record. But it would have been a playoff team. One that had a very promising look in their first round matchup. Jrue would have been an All-Star. The owner likes him. He only had one season under his belt as the major decision maker. I think Doug would have stayed.

The other question here is then what happens with Andre Iguodala? It’s no secret that he and Collins didn’t see eye to eye. In the actual 2013 offseason Iggy opted out of his contract and left the Denver Nuggets for the Golden State Warriors. The Nuggets were a 57 win team; the Sixers were not, even in this scenario. The Nuggets got rid of a coach and GM that Iggy liked; in this scenario the Sixers kept a coach that he didn’t like and gave said coach more power. Really, there isn’t any question here. Iggy leaves. Continue reading

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What If Andrew Bynum Was Never A 76er?

Andrew Bynum Philadelphia 76ersWhat if?

It’s a mostly worthless task we’re told. Not worth driving yourself crazy over. Yet we all do it. We ask “What if”. But nowhere is it more fun than in sports. What if the Sixers won the NBA title over the Portland Trailblazers? What if Joe Carter didn’t hit that home run? What if Pelle Lindberg and Jerome Brown just drove safely? And recently, watching the Atlanta Hawks and their losing record take the Indiana Pacers to seven games, what would have happened if the Sixers tried to win this year?

Well, that’s a tough one, since arguably the players on the team were actually trying to win. So for this task we have to go back further. Back to what really started this whole thing. And so we ask, What if the Sixers never completed the Andrew Bynum trade?

Now, for purposes of this we can’t undo any transaction that took place before the trade. So we still have to say goodbye to “Old School Chevy” Elton Brand and “2 For” Lou Williams. And we’re still stuck with Nick Young and Kwame Brown. Sadly, this stuff we can’t change. But we have vetoed the trading of Andre Iguodala, Nikola Vucevic and Moe Harkless for a year of Andrew Bynum’s hair and Jason Richardson and get to make judgement calls on everything else that happened since. The other thing we have to deal with is injuries and we have to take those as they happened. Remember this when we get to this season.

Side note – this is already a pretty deep well to dive into, so I’m not doing any statistical analysis. That’s a rabbit hole I will never get out of. That means this will speak in more generalities than I would like but it’s a necessary compromise.

So what would the past two seasons have looked like? We’ll answer a series of questions on each to help us decide. Part One will look at 2012-2013 and Part Two will continue with that offseason into the recently completed one. Continue reading

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Patience, The Sam Hinkie Mantra

The day that every Sixers fan was waiting for was finally upon us. The clock was counting down the seconds until Cleveland was finally on the clock to make the first pick of the 2014 NBA Draft. Rumors of trades, huge draft picks, and bright futures danced in everyone’s mind. Then, Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker were taken first and second respectively. It cast a bit of a disappointed mood over a lot of the Philly faithful, myself included, and then Adam Silver came to the podium with the Sixers pick. There have been rumors all week that Sam Hinkie was going to go with Dante Exum, but the name that came out of Silver’s mouth was not the name of the Australian combo guard. The third pick in the draft was none other than the highly touted big man Joel Embiid.

Photo by USATSI

Photo by USATSI

The mixed reactions started right after they showed the big man in his home with a confused sort of face (due to tape delay). Many Sixers fans were excited about the news, and there will still many fans that were disappointed and even flat out angry. I was even one of those fans who was not too happy about this pick. After a little research however, I started to see how this pick could turn into something huge for Philly. Embiid has been drawing comparisons to the likes of Hakeem Olajuwon and it has been said he is the best center prospect in the last fifteen years. Sure, he has had a couple injuries recently, but the potential he possesses could be well worth the wait. A lot of people have raised the question of who will play the power forward spot if Embiid and Nerlens Noel play together. The answer to that will obviously have to wait, so that the coaching staff can see if Noel can develop his offensive game into that of a power forward. Say that doesn’t pan out though, playing Noel and Embiid together could serve as a twin towers scenario on defense. Just imagine having to be that guard trying to drive into the paint with these two monsters staring you down trying to swat the ball into the stands.

Next, there was the surprising pick of Elfrid Payton. Once Payton came on stage and shook the commissioner’s hand, everyone started questioning if Michael Carter-Williams would be traded. Then Hinkie worked his trade powers; he traded Payton to Orlando for Dario Saric, a 2017 first round pick, and a 2015 second round pick. The picks Philly received were great, but all of the fans realized that Saric would not even be suiting up for the Sixers for another couple years. Now, after two top ten picks, Hinkie and company have drafted two guys that might not even suit up all of next year. This left a lot of fans scratching their heads, while others pleaded that we all need to be patient and wait this rebuilding plan out. Continue reading

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