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Omari Spellman the latest Villanova Wildcat to leave for 2018 NBA draft

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Omari Spellman the latest Villanova Wildcat to leave for 2018 NBA draft

When Donte DiVincenzo announced Tuesday he was leaving Villanova for the NBA, it wasn’t much of a surprise.

Wednesday’s news that big man Omari Spellman would also be leaving the defending champs will definitely be a shocker to many. In an Instagram post, Spellman announced that he’s leaving the Wildcats after just one season.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BjaOIMbBct2/?hl=en&taken-by=omarispellman

After missing the 2016-17 season while entrenched in a weird academic eligibility battle, Spellman showed the reason he was a five-star recruit. The redshirt freshman recorded 10.9 points and eight rebounds a night. He also shot an impressive 43 percent on 3.8 threes a game.

Spellman’s skill set should be appealing to NBA teams looking for a stretch four or mobile five. At 6-foot-9 (7-2 wingspan) and 253 pounds, Spellman has an NBA body. He’s a great athlete and an instinctive rebounder who has a shooting touch that extends to the three-point line. The only question may come on the defensive end of the floor when he’s asked to cover quicker stretch fours or true centers.

With his decision to stay in the draft, you have to believe he’s been told he has a chance to go in the first round. If he does, he’ll likely join teammates Mikal Bridges (a projected lottery pick), Jalen Brunson and DiVincenzo as a first-rounder.

The NBA draft takes place on June 21 at Barclays Center in New York.

Joel Embiid (left knee soreness) listed as probable for Sixers-Nets Game 5

Joel Embiid (left knee soreness) listed as probable for Sixers-Nets Game 5

Joel Embiid was doubtful for Game 1 with left knee soreness, questionable for Games 2 and 3, and doubtful again for Game 4. For Game 5 of the Sixers’ first-round playoff series against the Nets, he’s checked off another injury designation — probable.

At practice Monday, Embiid told reporters of his status, “Gotta keep ‘em guessing.”

It’s clear at this stage how Embiid is listed in the injury report doesn’t reveal much. He played after being designated as “doubtful” for Games 1 and Game 4. He missed Game 3 after being officially questionable and saying pregame his knee was getting better “slowly but surely.”

Even he doesn’t seem sure of how his knee will respond on any given day.

“The body reacts differently every day,” he said Thursday. “I might feel good after the game and then in two days, maybe feel it. So I just gotta manage it.”

It’s still difficult to discern what the practical implications of managing his pain and maintaining his conditioning are for his game-to-game status.

If you believe the NBA’s official injury report, it means he’ll likely play Tuesday night in Game 5 as the Sixers, up 3-1 over the Nets, aim to advance to the second round.

At this point, though, Embiid and the Sixers have made it hard to put much stock in that report. 

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Will Joel Embiid play in Game 5? 'Gotta keep 'em guessing'

Will Joel Embiid play in Game 5? 'Gotta keep 'em guessing'

CAMDEN, N.J. — If you’re frustrated by all the last-minute, game-time decisions for Joel Embiid, you’re not alone.

Nets coach Kenny Atkinson voiced his displeasure before Game 4 about finding out the Sixers’ starting lineup five minutes before each game of the series. He wondered if the NBA could do something about it.

Embiid spoke to reporters Monday at the team’s practice facility. Maybe he’d shed some light for Atkinson about his status for Game 5 Tuesday night.

“Gotta keep ‘em guessing.”

Maybe not.

While Embiid did say that with a big grin on his face, it’s hard to chalk it up solely to gamesmanship. The left knee soreness he’s dealing with did cause him to miss Game 3, a game the Sixers still managed to win in convincing fashion on the road.

Embiid said the pain is still at the same level and he’s still undergoing constant treatment while trying to find the perfect balance of rest and staying active.

“It goes both ways,” he said. “You can’t rest it completely and you also can’t do too much. Like I said, it’s all about managing it. We just got to figure that out.”

It’s apparent that Embiid has figured out how to get under the Nets’ skin.

He’s committed two Flagrant 1 fouls on young center Jarrett Allen — the second of which he has been adamant in saying he doesn’t agree with. The one Saturday caused series pest Jared Dudley to erupt, which started a fight that got Dudley and Jimmy Butler ejected.

While the trade-off of Butler for Dudley heavily favors Brooklyn, the incident did light a fire under Embiid. But that’s nothing new for the All-Star center. Throughout his career, the “trolling sun of a gun,” as Butler so aptly referred to him, seems to thrive in that kind of environment. 

“It’s fun,” Embiid said. “I try not to pay attention, but things like the other night with the fight, I felt like it took my game to another level, especially with Jimmy being out. I felt like I had to go get it with my teammates' help. Mike [Scott] and JJ [Redick] knocked big shots, Ben [Simmons] had a big steal, too. It’s fun. [It’s] the playoffs. It’s fun and I’m enjoying it.”

With Embiid picking up his second Flagrant 1 of the playoffs, he now has “two points” in the NBA’s system. If he gets up to four points, it’ll be an automatic one-game suspension. 

The Sixers did win Game 3 without him, but as Game 4 demonstrated, he can be absolutely brilliant. If they move on to play the Raptors in the second round, they’ll need the player we saw Saturday afternoon. Losing him to injury is something completely out of anyone’s control. But a suspension is completely avoidable.

So will Embiid change his style at all?

“No. Just got to play basketball,” Embiid said. “If it happens, it happens. Like I said, I’m mature. I know what I’m doing. Although the last one I don’t even know if it was even a foul. It felt like I got all ball so I don’t get why they issued a flagrant foul. It doesn’t make sense, but I’m going to play basketball and be myself.”

Brett Brown didn’t seem to agree with that sentiment. He reminded his players of infamous suspensions in recent playoff history that likely cost teams titles, including Draymond Green’s suspension in 2016 which was a big factor in the Warriors blowing a 3-1 lead.

“It’s not holding your breath, there are reminders that I owe my players as the coach to have them be adults — be big boys and navigate through this,” Brown said. “It’s not our fault at times we’re 20 pounds heavier and three inches taller. So in the meantime, we just need to be smarter and that’s my job.”

Whether Embiid plays and tones down his play in Game 5 is anyone's guess.

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