The700Level

Joel Embiid's freakish frame requires a unique training plan

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Joel Embiid's freakish frame requires a unique training plan

The voice of the Sixers, Marc Zumoff, sat down with the team's head strength and conditioning coach, Todd Wright, to chat about many aspects of his job, including the challenge of working with a guy with a body as big and powerful as Joel Embiid.

As Wright explained it, Embiid has gone through quite the journey in terms of understanding his frame and the care that is needed to keep it at top form.

“Joel has had a great transformation in understanding the importance of taking care of yourself," Wright said. “Joel is such a unique athlete in the sense that he’s 7-foot-2 and he’s very large and very powerful."

Having such a unique body means it works a bit differently than an average human. The electricity firing through such a bigger muscle system takes longer and can fatigue a bit faster, as Wright explains it.

"[Joel's] parameters in understanding the frequency of training, the rest that's required to repair all of those things, that was a work in progress for all of us, to really understand just how unique he was. The organization has done an incredible job putting a team around him with some of the smartest people in the world. As we've gotten to know Joel, I think our strategies have gotten stronger and stronger and our ability to educate him has gotten better and better."

Zoo tried to get some specifics out of him, but Wright kept the actual plan and action items pretty generic.

He said the Sixers attempt to boil down Embiid's action plan to: managing sleep, nutrition, balancing court work and weight room work, and creating better habits.

It's a process, albeit a complicated one.

Wright also spoke about his unique relationship with Kevin Durant and KD's incredible drive. You can listen to the whole podcast below.

Bad timing for Sixers' only hot shooter go on the shelf

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USA Today Images

Bad timing for Sixers' only hot shooter go on the shelf

Sixers fans got a news update they didn't even know they were supposed to be dreading on Tuesday night, when the team announced that sharpshooting starting guard JJ Redick would be out with "a small cortical crack in the fibular head of his left leg." Redick suffered the injury Monday against the Raptors he will be "re-evaluated in approximately 10 days to two weeks." (This was, of course, preceded by a Woj Firecracker in which he commented that Redick's injury "isn’t serious and he will likely miss only a short window of time," which should inspire some cold sweating over how bad we were supposed to initially be expecting this injury to be.)

To a certain extent, injuries like this are to be expected over the course of the NBA season. It may not feel like it, with Joel Embiid a perpetual DNP risk and Markelle Fultz suffering from jump-shot amnesia, but the Sixers had actually been relatively lucky with health so far this season. Out of a possible 40 games so far, none of Ben Simmons, Robert Covington, Dario Saric, T.J. McConnell or Redick have played fewer than 35, with even Embiid's 31 played feeling slightly miraculous. Someone important from their rotation — no, Justin Anderson doesn't count — was bound to miss a couple weeks with injury. 

But, man, losing Redick right now is gonna hurt. It's not just that he's been scorching lately — though that he undoubtedly has been, averaging 20 a game with a 51/46/94 percent shooting slash line over his last eight, since coming back from a hamstring injury that caused him to miss two contests. It's that while he's been that hot, the rest of the team has gone ice cold. 

Saric was similarly searing from deep at the beginning of 2018, but he's cooled off in the last couple, hitting just 2 of his last 10 triples. Jerryd Bayless has hit multiple threes in only one of his last 10 games. Covington, whose three-point bombing was so furious at season's beginning we started to wonder if Redick was gonna get jealous, has now gone just 31 percent from deep over the same eight-game stretch when Redick has been raining holy Process hellfire. Even McConnell, who never seems to miss when he actually deigns to take a triple, is just one for his last nine from distance. And three-point shooting continues to be the one blight on Embiid's otherwise superlative sophomore season, as he's just 3 for 17 from three so far in 2018. 

With only six players that Brett Brown can really trust right now — maybe seven if you wanna give Amir Johnson the benefit of the doubt — injuries to anyone is devastating to the Sixers' chances to be competitive on a nightly basis. And, as previously harped on here at The 700 Level, the Sixers are currently in the midst of a particularly tough January, which will see them play the Celtics, Bucks (twice), Spurs and Thunder — as well as the much-improved Bulls — over the next two weeks. 

What to do for the Sixers, then, in JJ's absence? Well, we'll certainly see a lot more of Bayless' streaky shooting, and maybe some more minutes for a recovering Anderson. We may also get a first look at the recently-signed wing James Young, who shot 37 percent on 9.4 attempts a game from deep this season in the G-League. And, hopefully, we see some greater offensive aggression from McConnell, who after the Raptors game, essentially owned up to the fact that he has to be willing to take open shots when they're given to him if he wants to be the Sixers' fifth guy down the stretch. 

Of course, it's tempting to wonder if this might not be the perfect circumstances for the return of Fultz to the Sixers' rotation. But such hopes don't seem particularly practical at the moment —Fultz's jumper has obviously not fixed itself overnight (or, uh, over two months), and no one — not even Brown — is pretending there isn't a major problem here. I don't know how or when the Fultz situation will get better, but in the meantime, it's hard to see him returning anytime soon, and even harder to picture him being the cure for what ails the undermanned Sixers if he does. 

Perhaps the biggest worry here, if you're a Sixers fan, is if Redick's injury will end up pushing the Colangelos toward making a short-sighted move to bolster their current depth, a.k.a. the much-feared "panic trade." If the Sixers struggle over their next two weeks — going 2-5, say, and dropping to three or four games out of the playoff picture — it's not impossible that the team will sniff around a quick-fix upgrade on the wings. The good (or bad) thing for the Sixers is there aren't a ton of obvious names that are both available and fit the team's timeline of trying for max cap space this summer — and both Lou Williams and Nikola Mirotic have likely priced themselves out of any cheap deadline dealings with their strong play of late. 

But, hey, while we're on the subject of short-sighted deadline dealings: Boy, could sure use Nik Stauskas right now, huh? Not to say that he's lighting it up since being sent to Brooklyn in December by any means — he hasn't scored more than five points in a game this year for Brooklyn — but he is shooting 47 percent from deep for them in his limited looks, and again, the Sixers thrived a year ago with Sauce as their starting two, even when he wasn't putting up numbers. He'd never be the long-term solution for Philly, but there was always a scenario in which it'd be helpful for the team to have him around in a pinch, and now that theoretical is upon us. (Meanwhile, since scoring 40 combined points in his first three games for the Sixers, Trevor Booker has scored a whopping 38 total in the 12 contests since.) 

Bottom line: This is gonna be a tough couple of weeks coming up for Philly. The good news? No back-to-backs for the Sixers this month, so no games yet where we definitely won't have Embiid or Redick. And if the Sixers can manage to tread water the next few weeks — even going 3-4 would be pretty acceptable — things should get a lot easier for them in February and especially March, when hopefully the team will be closer to whole again. Just have to hope nothing else Woj-worthy happens with the Sixers in the meantime.

Rating the Rumor: Eagles OC Frank Reich a 'possibility' for Titans

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NBC Sports Philadelphia

Rating the Rumor: Eagles OC Frank Reich a 'possibility' for Titans

Just when it seemed the Eagles might make it through the 2018 coaching carousel relatively unscathed, a new rumor links offensive coordinator Frank Reich to the Titans’ vacancy.

Then again, due to the timing of the Titans’ head coaching search, they may not even have the opportunity to talk to Reich at all.

Reich was first named “a possibility” for the Titans’ job by longtime beat writer Terry McCormick. However, because the organization did not request an interview during the first week of the NFL playoffs, by rule, a meeting cannot occur until after the Eagles’ season is finished. That could be as many as three weeks from now, depending on the outcome of the conference championship on Sunday.

Ideally, the Titans will have filled the job by then.

Reich himself shot down the story on Tuesday, though that was easy given the circumstances, with the Titans unable to reach out at present.

“Right now, myself, our staff, are interested in one thing only, so, that's all,” Reich said. “I have no time (for that). When I tell you I have no time for anything to consider anything else other than how we're preparing a game plan to beat the Vikings, that's really all we're concerned about.”

If the Titans are a little late to the game, that’s because a somewhat surprising postseason run gave Mike Mularkey two additional weeks of life. Once eliminated from the playoffs over the weekend, the sides parted ways, at a time when most front offices were already finalizing coaching searches. Of the seven clubs with openings, two are filled, and three more are reportedly spoken for.

In other words, the Titans are left with a smaller pool of candidates to choose from. That could help explain why Reich could be gaining some momentum after there was no reported interest in the first round of coaching interviews.

While Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz and quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo were among the star candidates this offseason, Reich flew under the radar. However, the reality is he probably warranted more consideration. From that standpoint, the Titans’ supposed interest makes sense.

Some observers may even see a potential Reich departure as beneficial for the Eagles. DeFilippo’s contract is up at the end of the season, and it’s believed if he isn’t hired as the head coach of either the Titans or Cardinals, he’ll leave for an offensive coordinator job regardless. If Reich goes, one of the league’s bright, young assistants could move into his role.

Sounds too good to be true? Well, it probably is.

DeFilippo is reportedly still in the running for the Cardinals job (for which the Eagles can grant permission for a second interview next week even should they advance), and may be ready to move on regardless, to someplace where the title of offensive coordinator comes with play-calling duties. As for Reich, his availability is largely tied to whether or not the Eagles make it to the Super Bowl, unless the Titans were willing to wait until February to have so much as a conversation.

The Titans are already lining up interviews with other candidates, notably Texans defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel. And should the Eagles lose on Sunday, you can certainly understand why any of Reich, Schwartz or DeFilippo would be on the short list. Yet, for the moment, their candidacy for this particular job appears to be in direct proportion to the outcome of the NFC Championship game.

Rating the rumor: Sorry, Titans – you snooze, you lose