Maybe the Last Time I Don't Know: A 2017 Sixers Lottery FAQ

Maybe the Last Time I Don't Know: A 2017 Sixers Lottery FAQ

If the Process was a Presidential term, tonight the next administration would be sworn in: Four years after Sam Hinkie's coming out party at the 2013 draft, we're sending Our Once and Always Dark Lord's jersey to the rafters -- literally, if you happen to be in the Xfinity Live area at 7:30 -- and hoping to officially turn the corner towards what comes next. 

Of course, this isn't the first time that we've predicted/hoped/karmically bargained that this would be the last year for the Sixers' Super Bowl to occur on lottery night: 2014 was supposed to be the last time, then 2015 was supposed to be the last time, then 2016... well, we were too deliriously happy about the validation of landing number one last year to give much thought to the future. But suffice to say, whether or not tonight ends up feeling like the end of an era, we won't officially know that we've torn the final page off that calendar until we get to Lottery Night 2017 and it feels more like a house party than a church revival. 

But in the meantime, we've got tonight -- who needs tomorrow? Here's your cheat sheet for Hinkiemania V.

What's the best-case scenario for the Sixers? Simply put, 1 and 4 -- a 2.4% chance of happening. The four would come via the Lakers pick, owed to us for years as the long-overdue return from the Michael Carter-Williams trade. The one could either come through our own pick -- currently in the 4th slot -- or via pickswap from the Kings, who currently sit 8th, and whose pick we get if it ends up landing higher than ours in the lottery (a byproduct of the infamous Nik Stauskas trade from summer '15). 

Whether you want the pick to commute via our pick or pickswap is something of a matter of taste -- there's some thought to the idea that we'd be better off getting the pick on our own and leaving the Kings at 8, rather then letting them swap with us and still get to bump up a couple spots in the draft order. (Remember, the Kings owe us an unprotectted '19 first-rounder as part of the Sauce deal, so it behooves us for them to stay as bad as possible as long as possible.) 

I personally doubt it'll have incredible bearing on their fortune one way or the other, and I'm worried that if the Kings don't get screwed by pickswap tonight, it will ultimately be lost on history just how stupid that initial deal was: Future generations must learn about Vivek and Vlade. So I'm rooting for pickswap, but if we get it on our own, I'm not gonna advocate sending it back or anything. 

What's the worst-case scenario for the Sixers? 6. Can't fall all the way back to seven without also landing the Lakers pick -- incredibly unlikely to begin with, but if three teams jump us into the lottery, that means they jump L.A. too, so we'll end up with their pick (at six) as well. But if two teams (neither of whom are Sacramento) leapfrog us into the top three, and the Lakers are the third team called after the lottery commercial break, then we end up with just six. Not too likely, but 1 + 4 ain't exactly good money either. 

What's the most likely scenario for the Sixers? Statistically speaking, 5. Despite being in the 4th slot currently, it's actually nearly four times as likely that we end up with the 5th pick as the 4th -- since the only way we stay at four is if, like last year, the three teams chosen in the lottery are the team with the three best odds. It's about 35% that we get jumped once and land at No. 5. At that point, it's close to 50/50 whether the Lakers slip out of the top three or not. 

Here's a helpful guide from @eaglesdiehard on Twitter to the chances of every possible outcome. (h/t Rich Hofmann)

Do we even definitely want the Lakers pick to transfer over this year? Definitely? No, but I still think we're better off with it happening now. True that if we don't get it this year, we definitely get it next year when the pick becomes totally unprotected -- tempting, certainly, especially since the Lakers have shown no clear signs of climbing out of the NBA abyss anytime soon. But even if there's a fourth-pick ceiling on this year's Lakers pick, I'd take the certainty of a sixth-pick floor over the who-knows of next season -- maybe they get Paul George in the off-season, and even if they don't, maybe they take a Year Two leap under Luke Walton and figure out earlier than expected how to turn promise and potential into actual production. 

Even in a best-case scenario for L.A., it's hard to see them following out of the lottery completely. But the potential is certainly there for them to at least crawl up to 10 or 11 -- where we took MCW in the first place four years ago. As much fun as it would be to root against D'Angelo Russell all next season and never have to worry that I'm rooting for him to lose *too much,* at this point I think the Sixers are better off just banking the top-six pick and never having to worry that the Lakers come together enough to turn a home-run asset into an infield single. (Some disagree, however, and it's a fair argument.) 

How high do we have to get in the draft this year to be happy with the result? This I can't really help you with that much. Some would say everything after 1 is a huge drop-off, some would say anywhere in the top six is likely to land you a real player, and I don't know enough about the individual prospects at this point to weigh in on either side. 

The good news this year, at least, is that it seems like of the consensus top eight, none of the players would be inherently poor fits for the Sixers: That is to say, no centers on the board. Which isn't to say it'll be a Santana feat. Rob Thomas-type slide for each of these guys' into the Sixers roster -- Kentucky's D'Aaron Fox is a point guard who can't shoot (possible bad fit with Ben Simmons), while Kansas' Josh Jackson is still answering questions about an alleged off-court threatening of a KU women's basketball player (possible bad fit in 2017 society). But there's at least a potential role for just about everyone we're likely to get, so the amount of bargaining and self-justification we'll have to do based solely on where we land lottery-wise should be minimal. 

How much does tonight matter in the grand scheme? Well, if we finish high enough tonight, it could still mean everything: Some people believe Markelle Faultz (Washington PG) and Lonzo Ball (UCLA PG/SG) have the power to be transformative, franchise-changing players, and even though we already have one or two guys like that, you can't ever have a maximum occupancy for players like that. We could look back on tonight as the night the final piece of our eventual core finally came into place, the night when everything was going to be OK. 

Luckily, tonight doesn't have to be that night: Or at the very least, it's OK if we don't know right away that it is. Last year, we NEEDED that top pick; as validation for Sam and for us and for everything we'd all been through the past three years at our absolute post-Hinkie-firing, post-Okafor-rookie-season lowest moment. This year, if we get it -- or if the Lakers pick falls our way -- that's awesome, if we don't, we still have a top-six pick in a top-heavy draft, as well as JoJo and Ben and Dario and RoCo and unprotected Lakers and Kings picks in 2018 and 2019 (respectively). And we also have the Lottery Party. We'll be good until we're actually good. Till then, see you in #SamsTown

Leather Eagles Super Bowl jacket is amazing, crazy expensive

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Leather Eagles Super Bowl jacket is amazing, crazy expensive

Philadelphia fans aren't the only ones who can't get their fill of Super Bowl Championship memorabilia. The Eagles players want in on the surfeit of champs gear as well.

Take Beau Allen for example. A true man of the people, Allen tweeted his desire for this absolutely beautiful leather jacket commemorating the Eagles victory over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII.

Allen tweeted aloud, wondering why the Birds' players hadn't been issued one of these leather jackets yet?

One guess? They retail for a cool $3,000. Totally worth it. 

You can pick one up right here for a low $2,999.99. It's listed as a "Men's NFL Pro Line by Fanatics Branded Black/Green Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl LII Champions Full-Button Leather Jacket."

You'll be happy to know it's an officially licensed NFL product and is made in the USA. Just like Beau.

Joel Embiid belongs among the very best

Joel Embiid belongs among the very best

You can't really fake it at an All-Star Game, especially one where people are actually trying. There's no lucking your way into a couple open shots and a couple generous foul calls and all of a sudden rolling your way to a 30-plus-point game; there's no isolating one defensive mismatch and exploiting it to make yourself look like '01 Shaq. Generally speaking, an All-Star Game shakes out as it should: The best shine the brightest, and those who aren't ready yet fade into the periphery with extra motivation to step things up for next year. 

And that's why it's so awesome that Joel Embiid, a mere 75 games into his NBA career, unquestionably belonged on the biggest stage with the biggest names last night. Playing for Stephen Curry's squad, JoJo posted 19 points on 8-13 shooting, with eight rebounds and two blocks, and a +5 rating for the night — the only positive plus/minus for the Steph starters. 

Out of context, those numbers may not sound particularly impressive for an All-Star outing, considering the final score of 2017's game was 192-182. But thanks to increased financial and personal motivation in this year's game, the competition was ratcheted up, and though the final score was still a robust 148-145 — Team LeBron emerging victorious — no one player really went off in this one, with Team Stephen being led in scoring by DeMar DeRozan and Damian Lillard (21 each). Consider that JoJo's 19 outpaced both teammates James Harden (12 points on 5-19 FG) and Curry himself (13 on 4-14 FG) — only two of the greatest scorers in NBA history. 

And what's more, down the stretch it was Embiid who seemed most ready to rise to the moment. With minutes remaining and his team up one, Embiid posted up LeBron James — LeBron James!! — for an easy bucket, and with the score tied and under a minute left, he got stuck isolated on the perimeter against Paul George, and still ended up blocking George's shot to win the possession back for his team. Had his squad been able to hang on in this one, he would've been able to mount a fairly compelling case for MVP, which would've made him the first player since at least the 20th century to win top honors in his first All-Star appearance. 

Of course, it didn't happen that way, and Team Stephen coach Mike D'Antoni might get most of the blame as to why. With his squad up one and Team LeBron inbounding out of a timeout, D'Antoni opted for some incomprehensible reason to bench Embiid, his best defensive player — which, somewhat unsurprisingly, resulted in LeBron scoring quickly and easily at the basket to go up one, and then DeMar DeRozan throwing the ball away at the other end. Embiid entered for the final possession, with his team needing a three to tie, and he had a chance to hoist one, but understandably passed to Curry, who drove his way into traffic and ended up not even getting a shot off. Team LeBron won, and James took home his third MVP. 

Frustrating finish, but it can't ruin what came before: Joel Embiid squaring off against the best the NBA has to offer, and proving himself a factor. (Also nailed a three and then blocked a Russell Westbrook drive at the other end, btw, so that beautiful random feud lives on.) He got as good as he gave — LeBron drilled a triple in his face immediately after JoJo took him down low — but he was in the mix, and a crucial part of his team's successes and failures. It should be the first of many such All-Star starring roles for Embiid, and hopefully the last for some time that doesn't also include him being flanked by Process Truster in Arms Ben Simmons. 

But even if it isn't — even if nothing good ever happens again with Joel, and we look back at this All-Star Game 25 years from now as the high point of this career — it still would have all been worth it. It was worth it when the team went 10-5 two Januarys ago. It was maybe worth it when Embiid gave his first-ever post-game interview following a Sixers win. 

That's what people will never understand about The Process, and that's what makes nights like this so gratifying. Franchises go decades, entire generations, without getting a moment to feel this way about one of their players, and even getting the chance to feel it about one of ours is worth seasons of sacrifice. JoJo lives, and somewhere in the bowels of the Staples Center last night, Our Once and Always Dark Lord Sam Hinkie had to be there and be smiling. Hope he enjoyed the Fergie national anthem as much as I did, as well.