76ers

Sixers stock watch: Contributions from Joel Embiid, Jonah Bolden, but T.J. McConnell, Landry Shamet struggling on D

Sixers stock watch: Contributions from Joel Embiid, Jonah Bolden, but T.J. McConnell, Landry Shamet struggling on D

There’s never a dull moment with the Sixers.

After barely escaping Madison Square Garden with a win, they crushed the Timberwolves and took care of the Pacers before suffering a heartbreaking loss to the Thunder.

The Sixers are now two games into their 12-game gauntlet and are 1-1.

Here’s this week’s stock watch:

Stock up

Joel Embiid

It was yet another impressive week for the All-Star center, who looks like a shoo-in to be back in this year’s game. In four games last week, Embiid averaged 27.5 points, 10.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 2.8 blocks. 

While Embiid continues to dominate in the post and patrol the paint at an elite level, his three-point shooting has really improved. He’s shooting 39 percent from three over his last 11 games. Defenders go for his pump fake when he’s missing. Imagine what happens if he keeps making them.

All of this while dealing with a tight back that’s forced him to be a game-time decision for two straight games. It’s going to be tough to get the big man a break over this stretch. 

MVP favorite James Harden is in the building Monday for a nationally televised game. Then the Sixers play the Spurs, a team that waxed them just a month ago. That’s followed by a matchup against Nikola Jokic, one Embiid will not want to miss.

Jonah Bolden

Another mention for the rookie in this space because of a new dimension he’s shown: being able to play minutes as a backup five. It’s a role that doesn’t need to be huge given how many minutes Embiid plays, but Bolden's been impactful for the Sixers over the past week.

The move has allowed Mike Muscala to play more four and Wilson Chandler to play more three. It also just gives the Sixers a different dynamic off the bench. Bolden is extremely athletic — something the bench sorely needed — and plays with a ton of energy. Bolden has been a huge part of the team’s recent success.

Stock down

The bench guards

T.J. McConnell and Landry Shamet have helped the team this season. McConnell has given the Sixers a big spark at times and is an unquestioned leader. Shamet, who nobody even considered for a rotation spot when he was drafted 26th overall, is shooting threes at an elite level (40 percent).

Neither player is giving the team what it needs defensively. It was evident during the loss to Oklahoma City that neither McConnell nor Shamet had the athleticism or size to compete with the Thunder’s guards. 

Both players have had their moments this season, but don’t be surprised to see Elton Brand upgrade at both spots.

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Sixers' Tobias Harris narrating backyard wild turkeys is quarantine comedy gold

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@tobiasharris/Instagram

Sixers' Tobias Harris narrating backyard wild turkeys is quarantine comedy gold

Tobias Harris is separated from rookie cult hero and internet goofball Matisse Thybulle, which means he had to find other ways to populate his Instagram stories with comedy.

Enter a bunch of wild turkeys in Harris's backyard.

It's unclear where Harris is riding out the NBA's season suspension, but wherever it is, he was greeted Thursday afternoon by a few preening turkeys, a welcome sight for anyone bored of looking at the same eight things in their house every day.

Harris, of course, whipped out his phone and opened up Instagram, and started filming - and narrating - the impromptu wildlife.

You're gonna want to turn your sound on:

Is... is Harris narrating these turkeys' prospective sex lives? He definitely is, isn't he?

It's all amazing, but Harris getting spooked by the aggressive turkey at the end is an absolute highlight for me. Does he not trust the integrity of those windows?!

Again, we don't know where Harris is spending his time away from basketball, but judging by the fowl play, it might be New Jersey. The Garden State is known for its hordes of wild turkeys - there are roughly 20,000 living in the state - and the Sixers' practice facility is of course located in Camden.

Between Thybulle adding a Roomba as a pet, and now Harris's encounter with wild turkeys, it's certainly been an interesting few weeks of social distancing for the Sixers.

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Celtics' Jayson Tatum weighs in on Joel Embiid-Nikola Jokic best center debate

Celtics' Jayson Tatum weighs in on Joel Embiid-Nikola Jokic best center debate

Boston Celtics star guard Jayson Tatum has caused some headaches for the Sixers over the last few years, and will likely continue to do so, but it seems he has a healthy respect for his Philadelphia rivals.

Tatum, who kept busy during social distancing Wednesday night with an Instagram Live, was first asked about the best player in the league, and then asked for his MVP pick, two classic questions - he called LeBron James the best player, and said James was going to win MVP.

Then things got a little more interesting.

Tatum was conducting the IG Live with Pep Stanciel, a basketball skills coach who has worked with NBA players in the past, and Stanciel managed to get Tatum to name the league's best player at each position.

Here's Tatum's all-league starting lineup, per NBC Sports Boston:

Point Guard: Stephen Curry
Shooting Guard: James Harden
Small Forward: LeBron James
Power Forward: Anthony Davis
Center: Joel Embiid

You're not going to hear a lot of complaints about that list from NBA fans, though I bet the most objections would wind up with Embiid as the starting center.

The argument over the NBA's best center has been a hotly-contested topic for a couple years now, with the emergence of Embiid and Nikola Jokic as two position-breaking stars who can sort of do it all. 

Embiid is an unstoppable, bullying presence in the paint who puts opponents in foul trouble and dominates the rim on the defensive end. Jokic is a visionary passer who uses his height and creativity to his advantage, both in the half-court and in transition. 

They're both fantastic, and just different enough that the basketball world has sort of reached a stalemate on who is an all-around better center.

Is Tatum showing his Eastern Conference bias, considering he faces Embiid more often? It's certainly possible. But Embiid is also just really, really good.

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