Philadelphia 76ers

Opening week affects MVP odds of Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid

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Opening week affects MVP odds of Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid

Ben Simmons had himself a historic first week in the NBA and as a result, his MVP odds have changed substantially.

Listed by Bovada on Oct. 10 at 80/1 to win MVP, Simmons is now at 33/1, tied with DeMarcus Cousins and ahead of Marc Gasol, Blake Griffin and Damian Lillard.

Simmons became the first player since Oscar Robertson to produce at least 10 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in each of his first three career games.

Teammate Joel Embiid had a less successful start to the year, averaging 14.5 points, 13.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists in two games but shooting just 35.5 percent from the field and missing all 10 three-point attempts.

And yet somehow, Embiid's MVP odds have changed from 40/1 to 25/1. He has the same MVP odds as Karl-Anthony Towns and Kristaps Porzingis.

Griffin, at 50/1, is a sneaky good bet for MVP. The Clippers are his team now with Chris Paul in Houston, and Griffin has added long-distance shooting to his game, making three triples in each game. Two games in, he's averaging 29.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists. 

If he can stay healthy (a huge if) and lead the Clippers to 52-plus wins in a loaded Western Conference, you'd have to think Griffin would be looked at more favorably in terms of MVP odds than someone on a star-studded team like any of the Warriors or Rockets, if Paul returns from his knee injury within a month and affects James Harden's stats even slightly. 

Giannis Antetokounpo and LeBron James look like the two players most likely to win MVP, but 50/1 for Griffin is good value if you think this is the year he stays healthy. If he didn't have a history of injuries, his odds right now would be closer to those of John Wall (28/1) or Towns (25/1).

Rob's Rants: Sixers' issues, weak Week 7, Romo a future coach?

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Rob's Rants: Sixers' issues, weak Week 7, Romo a future coach?

Fresh off a weekend that saw the Sixers drop two ugly games and an NFL Week 7 card that stunk to the high heavens, we are locked and loaded with plenty of ammunition and a prediction mixed in for the latest Rob's Rants. 

Sixers' start
I'm not in panic mode like some Sixers fans after their 0-3 start. They've played three teams that finished seeded 1, 2 and 3 respectively last season in the Eastern Conference in the Wizards, Celtics, and Raptors. Two of those games were on the road.

They have a difficult early schedule and won 28 games last season. However, there are some troubling early trends. Let's start with Markelle Fultz, the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. There's great debate among some regarding Fultz's ugly looking shot. Ugly may be too kind. There are those who believe a shoulder injury is the cause of his changing his form. And there are others who fall in the camp that it's in his head, nothing physical.

Count me in the latter corner. As overly cautious as this organization has been since the Process started, there is no way they would put him out there if this was anything remotely serious. My guess — and it's just that — is that either Fultz or someone in his camp decided to tinker with his form for whatever reason. Why? I have no idea. Things were going pretty well for him. First overall pick, averaged 23.2 points per game in his lone year in college. He shot 47.6 from the floor and 41.3 from three-point range. His shot wasn't broken. His range, vision and handle are what made him the ideal fit in the Sixers' minds to play here alongside Ben Simmons. And they gave up a lot of to move up two spots to get him.

Fultz needs to go back watch his college highlight reel and forget about what's taken place since summer league action. The fact that he and Simmons refuse to shoot anything 12 feet or beyond in an NBA game is a massive issue.

The flip side of the duo's reticence to pose an outside threat is Joel Embiid's allergic reaction to going inside. He shot the ball pretty well last season from three (36.7 percent). We've seen the soft touch and the range, especially for a 7-foot-2 behemoth, and it's a nice complement to his game. But he's fallen way too in love with the jumper in general. He's 0 for 10 from three and shooting just 35 percent overall. That should never happen. Embiid blamed his teammates for not getting him the ball in the post after the Celtics loss. Sorry, big fella, it's not on them, it's on you to get to the block to get fed. Take advantage of that incredible combo of size and agility. Shooting threes and ill-advised drives where you turn the ball over need to stop. This one may be easier to correct than Fultz.

Two other bones to pick. The Sixers have been outrebounded in all three games, including the two Embiid played. That's want, that's effort. Whether we like it or not, Embiid is going to miss games — be it back-to-backs, coach's decision or whatever. The team can't just lay down like it did Saturday in Toronto. A 36-point defeat is unacceptable and embarrassing now that they have an actual NBA lineup, unlike years past. It's not panic time, but it is time to see more from this team.

Weak Seven
I love the NFL, it's my favorite sport. Even when the Eagles don't play like the last two weekends, I still thoroughly enjoy the Sunday action. But there is no way to polish this turd of a Week 7. The large majority of the games stunk, flat out. In 10 of the 14 games, the average margin of victory was 18.7 points. Three teams were shut out and three more scored seven or fewer points. You had matchups such as Jaguars-Colts, Chargers-Broncos, Bears-Panthers, Rams-Cardinals, Cowboys-49ers. You get the picture. Even Sunday night's matchup between last year's Super Bowl combatants, the Falcons and Patriots, turned into a dud. I get that because of injuries and underachieving, they can't all be instant classics. But this was bad. Even the NFL Redzone couldn't quell the stink coming off this dreck. The troubling thing is it wasn't just this past weekend, there's far more bad than good out there. People can blame player protests or cord-cutting for the ratings being down but maybe it's as simple as the product is not as good.

Coach Romo
As much as it pains me to say, Tony Romo is a good announcer. He is insightful, on top of the game and has juice. Does he over-talk at times? Yes. There's an art as both a play-by-play and color analyst to letting things breathe sometimes and Romo needs to learn this. This is only his first year. With time, he'll grasp this concept if he chooses to continue down this road. But the more I listen, the more I think his future is not in the booth but back on the field. Not as a player, but as a coach. His ability to predict and read defenses and his feel for situational football lend me to think coaching will be in his near future. He is beloved by Jerry Jones, and if the Cowboys fall short of the postseason this year or next, it would not surprise me a bit if Jones convinced him to take over the Cowboys. Jones has the deepest of pockets, so money will not be an issue.

Sixers-Pistons thoughts: Joel Embiid vs. Andre Drummond takes center stage

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Sixers-Pistons thoughts: Joel Embiid vs. Andre Drummond takes center stage

Dust yourself off and try again.

That's all the Sixers (0-3) can do as they again go for their first win of the new season. They'll get a slight break this time when they face the Pistons (2-1) at new Little Caesars Arena in Detroit (7 p.m./NBC Sports Philadelphia, NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports app). It's the Sixers' first opponent in 2017-18 that didn't reach the playoffs a season ago.

Let's take a closer look at the matchup:

• After resting for the second game of a back-to-back set in Saturday's 128-94 loss to the Toronto Raptors, Joel Embiid will return to the Sixers' starting lineup on Monday night.

Embiid is still finding his way offensively to start 2017-18. He is averaging 14.5 points through two games but shooting just 35.5 percent from the field and he's missed all 10 of his three-point attempts.

Those outside shots should start to dwindle in the big man's first-ever meeting with Andre Drummond and the Pistons after Embiid made it clear that he wants more touches in the post.

• We'll see if Embiid's camping out in the paint can help the Sixers even out their foul disparity.

Through three games, the Sixers are ninth in personal fouls drawn (24.3). However, they have committed a league-high 28.0 fouls per game.

That has led to opponents attempting 35.7 and making 27.7 free throws per game against the Sixers, both NBA highs.

Officials definitely have tighter whistles when a new season begins as they want to drive home points of emphasis from offseason rule changes and discussions. Still, this is a problem the Sixers need to end quickly if they want to get in the win column.

• The Pistons have been strong on the offensive end so far, scoring over 100 points in each game.

While the entire team deserves credit with five players averaging in double figures, Tobias Harris is leading the pack with some impressive scoring marks.

Harris has put up 24.3 points per game on 55.8 percent shooting from the field and an insane 47.1 percent from beyond the arc.

While Embiid's matchup with Drummond will likely take top billing heading into this contest, the real heavyweight battle could end up being between Harris and defensive ace Robert Covington.

• The Sixers managed one win in three contests against the Pistons last season. The teams split the two matchups at the Palace of Auburn Hills, which has now been replaced by the $862.9 million Little Caesars Arena. The Sixers have the opportunity to become the NBA's first visiting team to notch a win in the new arena.

Richaun Holmes (wrist) is out for the Sixers.

Dwight Buycks (hip) and Reggie Bullock (suspension) are out for the Pistons.