2014 Penn State Football: The Dawn of A(nother) New Era

For the second time in three years, the Penn State football team finds itself under new leadership.

Out is Bill O’Brien, the rugged New Englander, the coach the program so desperately needed when it reached its nadir after the Sandusky scandal and NCAA sanctions. In is James Franklin, a self-described “Pennsylvania boy with a Penn State heart” who brings an unrivaled(see what I did there) enthusiasm to the program.

O’Brien did everything asked of him and more during his brief tenure in State College, and there’s no question he deserves the opportunity to serve as a coach at the highest level. Would it have been nice to have him here longer? Yes, but when the NFL comes calling, you’d better take that chance.

At the same time, it’s pretty clear now who is more suited for the college game and who isn’t. And I don’t mean coaching, because BOB clearly can coach. No, I mean being a CEO of the team, recruiting, glad-handing with boosters and alumni, showing up at a variety of university functions, there’s much more than coaching in a major college football coach’s responsibilities.

Franklin just seems to have an energy that’s more appropriate for the college level than BOB. I mean, can you ever see O’Brien doing this after a random spring practice? If I ever wanted to create an energy drink, I’d name it after Franklin because he simply never stops working, whether it’s by coaching, recruiting, or selling the future of the program to media members and alumni.

Franklin a native of my hometown, (Langhorne, PA) has been ubiquitous since he took the job, throwing out the first pitch at little league games, speaking at his alma mater’s commencement , helping new students move in as well as take time to speak to the Blue Band during one of their practices. Just where does this guy find the time?

He’s proved to be a dominant force on the recruiting trail, nabbing six of the top ten recruits in the 2015 recruiting class and finally putting an end to other top programs simply coming into PA and having their pick of the litter. From now on, programs like Alabama, Ohio State and Michigan will have to work harder to get the PA prospects the want(and likely won’t get).

Currently the program is poised to land a top-ten class for the first time in forever and the staff’s promotion of the program is reaching top recruits all throughout the country, not just in the mid-Atlantic.

The recruiting success has made me follow recruiting websites closer than ever before, as well as stay up to date with the program throughout the off season, when previously be inclined to read as much.

Basically, Franklin’s energy is infectious and he’s brought out the inner die-hard in me, where as in the last several years, I would just show up for football season and start remembering everyone’s name.

So far he’s been worth every penny as a spokesperson and recruiter for a program. The only thing left for him to do is coach and I can’t wait to see how this staff’s energy translates to Saturday afternoons.

Here are some key things I’ll be looking for with the 2014 Penn State Nittany Lions:

Does Christian Hackenberg take the next step? 

The Big Ten’s freshman of the year in 2013, Hackenberg started from day one and while he looked like a true freshman at points throughout the year, but by season’s end, there was no question he was one of the top young talents in college football. The buzz around Hackenberg continues as not only is he the face of the program, but a likely high draft choice in 2016, should he continue to progress.

Losing Allen Robinson will hurt, but it will also make him better as he will need to prove that he can work with a stable of young receivers and make them better.  Plus, the team is loaded at tight end, with Jesse James, Kyle Carter, Brent Wilkerson and true freshman Mike Gesicki. That doesn’t even include Adam Breneman, the top recruit in last year’s class who will likely redshirt this year. (Tough luck for Adam, but this is probably a blessing for him in the long run.)

So while chemistry will likely take time to develop between his wide outs, he’ll always have the security blankets of his tight ends, provided he stay’s upright which leads into my next question.

Will the offensive line be overmatched? 

With Miles Diffenbach out for a large chunk of this season, Donovan Smith is the only returning starter. He’ll be accompanied by the redshirt freshman Andrew Nelson at right ackle, junior Angelo Mangiro at center, redshirt sophomore Brian Gaia at right guard, and either Brandon Mahon or Derek Dowrey at left guard.

I can’t tell you much of anything about this guys, but let’s hope they’ve heard about how badly they’re predicted to perform this year and take it to heart. This unit is probably worth an additional one or two wins, depending on how they play.

Can Sam Ficken Become More Consistent? 

15 of 23 last year, 14 of 21 in 2012. There’s no doubt he was a bit overmatched his first season. but he’s made strides since then. Still, do you feel entirely comfortable with him kicking a 40 yarder with the game on the line? Please prove me wrong Sam.

How good can the defense be? 

I think they’ll be pretty damn good to be honest. I think they could finish in the top-5, maybe top-3, in the B1G this year.  Yes, depth is an issue at linebacker, especially with the loss of Ben Kline,  but the starting unit of senior Mike Hull and sophomores Nyeem Wartman, and Brandon Bell is already well seasoned. The secondary and defensive line and are in good shape. Overall, the bigger questions lie in offense and special teams for this year’s squad.

One thing I really want to see happen, Deion Barnes return to his Big Ten Freshman of the Year status from two years ago. If he can wreak havoc off the edge, I’m very comfortable with this unit.

Will Franklin show the same distain for punting as BOB? 

God, I sure hope so.

Bottom line, I think the program is in good, if not better shape with Franklin. He brings an SEC mentality to a Big Ten school, which is what this program needs if it ever wants to compete with said SEC for national championships. My wins and losses predictions is as follows, but it’s pretty much more of the same 8-4, 7-5 type of year.

August 30  vs. UCF* In Dublin, Ireland    W

September 6 vs. Akron  W

September 13 at Rutgers W

September 20 vs. UMass W

September 27 vs. Northwestern W

October 11 at Michigan L

October 25 vs. Ohio State (Really hope I’m wrong here)

November 1 vs. Maryland W

November 8 at Indiana (No way they lose two straight years to Indiana, right?)

November 15 vs. Temple W

November 22 at Illinois W

November 29 vs. Michigan State L

So because I’m a homer, I just put them down for 9-3, which is probably not gonna happen. But as long as they don’t have a downright miserable year (read 2-10 season) I really don’t care about wins and losses. Especially with no B1G title to play for.

It’s all about developing the younger players for the 2016, 2017 and 2018 seasons, once the sanctions are long gone, and B1G titles are up for grabs. That’s when I’ll probably begin to care more about the program’s weekly results. For now, I’m just excited to see what this new coaching staff has up its blue and white sleeves.

 

Recapping My Trip Out West to San Francisco and Seattle – Part 1

It was a very fun and engaging trip, albeit a tiring one. But when you’re trying to see as much as we did in the span of five days (it was seven total but not gonna count two flying days) you have to sacrifice sleep.

Let’s begin with the first travel day, Thursday July 17

Our flight left at 2:55 pm and we had no trouble getting to the airport, thanks to my mom who drove and dropped us off. Once inside the airport, everything moved surprisingly smoothly as well. Even security, we didn’t have to take our shoes off or strip half-naked(kidding, sorta). The security offiicals also didn’t treat me like I was some moron for not exactly knowing every step of the process.

After coming out of security not agitated for the first time ever, we made our way to the gate where I was able to sit back relax and order overpriced McDonald’s. I was on vacation, I kept telling myself after dropping 8 bucks. This came one day after I unexpectedly spent $16 on Chinese at the State College Wegman’s ,after initially looking for a simple slice of pizza for about 2 bucks. But back to the McDonald’s, I decided on a chicken ranch wrap, if you care (you don’t).

After getting on the plane, I ended up stuck in a damn middle seat. Oh well, it ended up working out, after I got talking to the guy sitting to my right. Probably about my age, he was headed to Phoenix for a weekend of golf. Anyway, got to talking with the guy and he ended up giving me some tips, not that I’ll ever truly get to use them, but i appreciate it nonetheless.

After the five-hour flight to Phoenix, there was a bit of a layover for the connecting flight to San Francisco. The terminal we were in was BRUTALLY crowded and I couldn’t wait to get the heck out of there. Split some softshell tacos at some burrito place, but they were no  Chipolte let me tell you. Plus it was too crowded, to actually find a place to sit.

Saw this in the airport though, was the first picture I took on the trip. Who knows maybe I’ll be returning to Arizona in February, if a certain Philadelphia professional football team that is called the Eagles has a good year.

az super bowl

The flight to San Francisco was a little over an hour landed shortly after 9 pm PDT and by the time we picked up our bags, and made it to the rental car service, it was even later.

Originally, we were given a Hybrid Ford Fusion. One problem, it was incredible tight with very limited trunk space, probably due to the battery built inside the car. After I got in the car and was squished next to my brother, I knew there was no way in hell we I was gonna ride in that thing all the way to Seattle a drive a little over 12 hours. Fortunately, my uncle was able to switch to a more spacious Dodge SUV.

I was starving by the time we had gotten to Comfort Inn and just wanted a quick snack or something, since the last full meal I ate was the McDonald’s at the Philly airport.

Walking down the street, in search of something to eat, a fat asian guy obnoxiously yelled out of his car window at us, HEY GUYS WE’RE GONNA GO GET SOME PUSSY!”

Welcome to San Francisco.

We all prepared for the San Francisco weather, but none of us was dressed properly at the time. I was wearing a stretched out Phillies t-shirt to make it even more obvious we were tourists.

Eventually after realizing there was no fast food joints around this part of the city, and other places were closed after 11, we settled for a convenience store and just grabbed chips salsa and queso dip.

I didn’t care by that point, I just wanted to sleep. Traveling days are the worst.

Friday July 18

As I alluded to in the beginning, we were at it early Friday morning, hitting the streets of San Francisco, while the town still woke up and the fog rolled in off the bay.

Cool and crisp, it had a much better fell then the previous night, when I was cold, cranky and hungry.

We first headed towards Fisherman’s Wharf, which was only about a ten minute walk from the hotel.

Even though it was really chilly out, people swam in the cove the adjoined one of the park areas, shoreline

Most of the park exhibits and park rangers were still setting up shop–this was about 9-9:30 a.m. mind you. So with nothing firm on our docket until the A’s game in Oakland at 7, we decided to grab tour tickets to explore the city.

The tour bus was a red double-decker, and our tour guide was kind, yet strangely terrifying man at the same time. At first he seemed like the typical tour guide, kind friendly, tried to hard to be funny. But it was also hard to hear him because it was drizzling and he had a sock over his microphone.

This may have come into play when he frequently YELLED at some tourists who stood up to move while the bus was still moving. Another factor may have been that the tourists (many of whom were European) simply didn’t understand his order to sit down while the buys was moving.

He also took the time to yell something random at a homeless guy and throw a quarter at him, but only to have it hit the guy right in his head. (I didn’t actually see this but my Dad did).

Peculiar tour guide aside, the tour was worth it, as I saw much more of the city then when I visited San Francisco back in 2006.

It was still early, meaning it was cloudy and cool still, but I couldn’t help but notice how many great restaurants there were and how many offered outdoor seating. On a warm, sunny afternoon there’s probably too many to choose from. It also seemed like much more than Philadelphia.

One of these places was a joint called Mama’s and there was a huge line, while most other places remained sparse. Apparently, the food is so good, people will wait up to three to four hours.

We got off right across the street from Mama’s and started walking towards Coit Tower, something I definitely didn’t get to see in 2006. To get the tower it required walking up this street, which is just one of many steep hikes in the city.

steep street

As you can see, the incline was no joke, and in fact, cars are required to park on a 90-degree angle.

While we didn’t go up to the top of the tour because it cost $7 it was still cool to see and we got some good views of the Bay Area, including the Bay Bridge and Golden Gate Bridge.

coit tower

After checking out the tower, we made our way back to the bus and headed for lunch at Pier 39 along Fisherman’s Wharf. By this time, the sun was out and it was jam packed with tourists. While there isn’t a ton of rides on the pier, in fact the only one is a carousel, there’s plenty of stores, restaurants and open areas for performers.

Before we ate, we walked around a pit, to see some of the stores and the Sea Lions, who napped comfortably in the sun aboard some floating docks.

sea lions

WE eventually grabbed food at the Pier Market Seafood Restaurant, and reacuainted myself with their delicious New England Clam Chowder, generously proportioned inside a sourdough bread bowl. It also came with the ceasar salad. Here’s the photographic evidence.

clam chowder

After lunch, so we made our way back along to Wharf, seeing some of the shops, and fish stans along the way. But with a couple of hours left until the A’s game, we decided to simply go back to the hotel to rest for an hour.

We left for Oakland, around 4:45, knowing it’s only a twenty minute drive without traffic.  The problem? There was traffic. Lots of it. Getting out of San Francisco took us a half hour alone, because traffic was snarled trying to get onto the Bay Bridge. We didn’t end up getting to O.Co Coliseum until around 6, after a confusing GPS-lead drive through downtown Oakland, which was pretty depressing.

I recently saw that Oakland was voted the Second Unfriendliest City in the country. I was only there briefly, so I can’t say that it’s a fair nomination, but it certainly wasn’t the most glamorous.

Anyway, we arrived in the parking lot and it was a great nice for baseball and you could tell the fans were fired up for this one, hosting first place Baltimore. The tailgaters were out in full force, with loud music blaring and A’s flags flying.

It was reminiscent of a footbal tailgate scene, simialr to Kansas City, Milwaukee and Philly when the Phillies were the best ticket in town. Not coincidentally, those parks also have abundant parking spaces.

There wasn’t a ton to see around the stadium, other then the neighboring Oracle Arena, home to the NBA’s Warriors, so we went inside the stadium.

It was “Bark at the Park” night and there was no shortage of man’s best friend. The owners and their pets walked around the outfield warning track before eventually being seated in the outfield.

After walking around and talking pictures, we made our way to our seats in the second deck, just to the right of home plate and they were fantastic.

Oakland Seats

The second level was very low to the field;It’s probably the equivalent of sitting in the club section at CBP. With a sizable crowd, but not a jam-packed sell out, we didn’t be scrunched next to other people all night either, leaving plenty of room to relax and stretch out. While the lower level concourses had long lines and was crowded, there was an easy to access second level concourse. At first I didn’t think we couldn’t get in, because it was a restaurant area, but as it turns out, it’s open to anyone. There wasn’t as big of a food selection, but it wasn’t as crowded, meaning shorter bathroom lines which worked for me.

I’m not going to recap much of the game itself, but I will talk about the A’s fans and they were fantastic. Again, having a good team helps, but they were really into it from the first pitch on. The right field has a bunch of hard-core fanatics waving flags, chanting and dancing rhythmically to certain player’s walkup songs, notable Coco Crisp’s.  Considering the same stadium is home to the Black Hole, I wasn’t surprised.

They booed the hell out of Manny Machado all night long, as a result of this fracas back in June.  Here’s them greeting Machado in his first at bat:

The back and forth was great all night, Machado later homered in the 7th to give the O’s a two-run lead and he seemed to have the last laugh.

That deflated the crowd, but sure enough, the A’s made their way back, making quick work of the Orioles Zach Britton in the 9th after Josh Donaldson hit a three-run walk-off homer to give the A’s a wild 5-4 win.

Everyone, obviously, went nuts. More media to show!

Overall, I really enjoyed the game, the fans were great, we enjoyed great seats and saw two 1st place teams play a tightly-contested game.  Day two, save for the traffic getting the game, was a huge success.

 

Delayed Sixers Draft Reaction and Other General Thoughts

It’s been a month since my last post, and a ton has happened in that time. I would’ve written sooner about the Sixers draft, but due to heavy workload and vacation, just didn’t find enough time to properly share what I thought on certain matters.

I’ll have a write up coming soon about my recent baseball trip to San Francisco and Seattle (Spoiler: It was a great trip).  And by soon, I mean sometime in the next one to three months.

But let’s get to it, starting with the Sixers draft and summer league.

All year long, I thought the Sixers were going to end up with two very good young basketball players to watch on the court next season with their two lottery picks. And by all accounts, they did get two very talented players. One problem: they probably won’t take the floor this year.

I’m totally on board with the Sixers rebuilding plan and really believe in what Sam Hinkie is doing. But I won’t lie, to not get a Wiggins, Parker, Vonleh or even a Stauskus to watch next year is just disappointing.

Who knows, Joel Embiid and Dario Saric, could become the best two picks from the 2014 Draft in the future. But these two won’t play together until 2016-2017 at the earliest.

I made my point before the draft when Embiid hurt his foot, and I made it clear I wanted no part of him. Now, that I’ve had time to reflect, there’s no point in being disappointed in the pick, I mean all signs had him going No.1 to Cleveland and Jay Bilas and other experts called him the best talent. I’m not even gonna look at the injury stuff, I’m just going to keep focusing on his unlimited potential and what he can do to help bring the Sixers back to relevance. The team is in no hurry to contend, so there’s not a lot of pressure for him to hurry back and get on the court. Take all the time you need, Joel. Plus the guy’s a hell of a tweeter and an absolute must follow.

I think I just really underestimated how long of a rebuilding process this will be, and how patient Sixers fans could be.

But on the bright side. Nerlens Noel looked great in his summer league stints from what I read. And yes, it’s summer league and not a ton can be gleaned to determine future NBA success, but it’s all we have right now. Jordan McRae and KJ McDaniels, two players I know next to nothing about, also proved to be players to monitor, due to their strong efforts.

While I’ll once again be rooting for the Sixers to finish in the bottom of the standings, I think it will be fun to root to watch all these young players develop as well as hoping Hinkie can turn his abundance of cap space into acquiring a future first round pick.

LeBron’s Return to Cleveland

lbj

A stunner. I couldn’t believe it when I read Zach Lowe’s tweet at work. I thought he was joking around or something. But man, I was captivated and had a hard time focusing on work the rest of the day. Good for Cleveland and now they can stop having the NBA rig lotteries winning the top pick in the draft every year.

Even if he was the only major free agent signing, after speculation had Melo to the Lakers and Bosh to the Rockets, it is a seismic shift in the NBA landscape.

Add in Pau Gasol to the Bulls, Luol Deng to the Heat and Lance Stephenson to the Hornets, and the Eastern Conference is wildly intriguing and wide open, even if it’s still miles away from the West.

The Professional Baseball Team that Players Home Games in Citizens Bank Park

What a sad mess. It shouldn’t have come to this point, there’s so much blame at fault, and while the general manager deserves a heavy burden, it’s a total organizational failure.

They had such a good thing going for a five year period, how could they screw it up so badly?

Two weeks ago, if you gave me the choice between a Sixers summer league game, WITHOUT Nerlens on the court and a Phillies regular season game(yeah I actually mentioned their name) I would go Sixers 10 times out of 10.

I’ll try to look into this more in the future to see how it went so terrible wrong.

 Flyers Off-Season Activity

If you blinked you must have missed it, just like I did. Other than trading Scott Hartnell and his bad contract for RJ Umberger and his slightly worse contract, there hasn’t been any significant moves. Sorry RJ but I don’t think you’re the missing piece that we we’re hoping would bring the Stanley Cup back to Philly.

Thanks for the Vinny contract, Homer and let me give you a sarcastic thanks in advance for the Andrew McDonald deal. You don’t have to be a NHL cap geek to know that won’t work out well.

Really looking forward to seeing what  Ron Hextell can do to regain some cap flexibility and hopefully bring the team closer to being a top contender. Unfortunately, it’s going to take awhile.

Oh yeah and the captain of the team and face of the franchise, a certain Claude Giroux, grabbed a cop’s buttocks(best word ever) and was arrested. So there’s that too.

At least Flyers fans booed the hell out of Gary Bettman at the draft.

James Franklin is a Recruiting Machine

I’ve never followed college football recruiting this closely before, probably because Penn State has never hasn’t had recruiting success like this in a long time. While the team is probably in store for another 7-5, 8-4 season, Franklin has me extremely excited for the long-term future. And he’s from Langhorne, which makes it even better.

While it will suck missing most of the games (I’m taking off for the Oct. 25 whiteout against Ohio State, no way I’m missing that bad boy) I’m really looking forward to seeing how Franklin’s first season plays out, and if he can maintain the stability BOB left behind.

 Eagles Training Camp Begins

My Thoughts

NBA Draft Night!

Good god man, it’s finally here!!! The NBA Draft is Finally Here!! And guess what, the Sixers aren’t going to get Andrew Wiggins!!!

Ok, I don’t really need multiple exclamation marks after that last sentence, but you already knew I Was being sarcastic.

I’ve accepted the fact that #winlessforwiggins was a colossal waste of time and Twitter character (you only get 140 you know).

And to think, if Joel Embiid’s foot could have just held up two more weeks…

But as I said last week, as much as I like Wiggins, I’d like to see the Sixers keep their two first round picks and reap a bountiful harvest along with some of their five second rounders.

The moment is finally here (and my toilet is on the fritz, again) so I have to keep this short.

 

Let’s do this Hinkie!!

 

Joel Embiid Injury Reaction, Sixers are Screwed(I think)

Stomach punch.

That’s what it felt like to have read the news this morning that Embiid, the probable No.1 selection for Cleveland in next week’s draft has suffered a foot injury, seemingly dashing the hopes and dreams of Jabari Parker or Andrew Wiggins falling to No.3.

There’s just no way that Cleveland screws up this year by taking a definitely* injury prone center. I think they go with Jabari and play it safe.

*His back was the big worry, but now he’s got a foot injury and while the severity has yet to be determined although he definitely needs surgery. Two serious injuries in a four-month span? No thank you, he’s officially a major injury concern.

For the last several weeks, everything was going to plan. Embiid at one, Parker at two and Wiggins to the Sixers at three.

No, while it’s not impossible, it’s just highly unlikely. I really don’t want the Sixers to give up 3 and 10 to move up to the top slot for Wiggins, as much as I want him on the team next year. They need players, it’s a simple as that and in a deep draft such as this one, getting two good players instead of one elite talent is the opposite of terrible.

Of course, things could still break differently and Embiid’s foot injury might not be terribly serious. *Update: it’s a stress fracture and that is serious. Embiid isn’t even attending the draft and his status for next season is in question.

Even though Hinkie drafted Nerlens Noel and redshirted him last season, I can’t see him doing that with Embiid. As much upside as he may have, this foot injury is a game changer and he may never develop into the talent many expect. Plus, Noel was already rehabbing an ACL, an inury that has a more predictable recovery time. If the Sixers weren’t tanking so hard, he probably would’ve played some games last year.

For a draft that was already hugely anticipated, this latest curveball makes the buildup more fascinating or intolerable depending on how you look at it. (I’m leaning intolerable, I just need to get it over with).

I’m assuming Wiggins, and Parker are gone in the top two, leaving Noah Vonleh, and Dante Exum as the two primary targets at No.3. I’d go Vonleh over Exum but then again, Exum is such a wildcard.

There’s also the trade option and Hinkie has already proven that he likes trading. A lot. And in his one night of trading on Draft Night, he made out OK.

Could the Cavs pass on Wiggins and Parker to try to get 3 and 10 from the Sixers and then offer them in a package to Minnesota for Kevin Love? Even though their pursuit of LeBron is futile. they seemingly have to do anything it takes to become competitive again. It’s a long shot, at best now thanks to Embiid’s injury.

But enough already. While today’s news is disappointing, there’s no reason to react until the draft is over. One agonizingly long week from tonight.

 

Delayed Reaction: Sixers Get the 3rd and 10th Picks in the NBA Draft

So far so good.

That’s what I tweeted at one point this past Tuesday as the lottery moved up towards the top three spots, slowly but surely eliminating teams not named the Sixers.

After it was revealed the Magic would be selecting fourth, I did one of my patented awkad white-guy-who-fortunately-for-him-lives-alone-and-nobody-will-ever-have-to-see dance moves.

So yes, I was excited.

Of course, that excitement was tempered immediately after the lottery returned from commercial to show that the Sixers would be selecting third, or right where I thought they’d be picking.

I wasn’t dissapointed, more relieved it was over and they have a chance to get one of Wiggins. Parker or Embiid.

The real outrage or frustration was when Cleveland improbably won the damn thing again.

I would’ve rather almost the Lakers or Celtics “won” the lottery rather than seeing Cleveland get rewarded for the third time in four years. If there’s ever a reason for a new draft system. it’s not just tanking, it’s the fact a team can win the No.1 pick so often.

The Sixers are going to get two very good players in this draft if they simply stay at 3 and 10. Of course, if Hinkie goes on another trading spree, it’s likely the Sixers could come away with even more.

The combinations of players I want the Sixers to come away with are endless; after June 26 is over I seriously doubt I’ll be hating their haul.

While Wiggins is still my preferred choice, I won’t be mad with either Parker or Embiid (who I’m slowly becoming more in favor of the more I read about him).

Then, I would really like to see the Sixers come away with one of the three power forwards Julius Randle. Noah Vonleh, or Aaron Gordon.

Gordon would be preferable if they drafted Parker, because he has elite defensive abilities and could probably make up for Parker’s deficiencies.

Likewise, if the Sixers get Wiggins, then Randle would probably be the best compliment because he’s more NBA ready and would give more consistency and Wiggins continues to work on his offensive game.

Still we’re a loooooong way off.

To come away with any sort of these combinations the Sixers will likely have to move into the top 7, something not out of the realm of reality as How Roseman would say.

The conjecture is only just beginning and with exactly a month until the draft, there will probably be countless rumors of Wiggins. Parker, or Embiid going in the first slot.

Thankfully from my vantage point, it appears the Sixers really can’t lose no matter how it all shakes out.

The NBA Draft Lottery Has Arrived

Photo: Grantland

Photo: Grantland

Ladies and gentleman, welcome to the 2013-2014 Philadelphia 76ers season!

In all seriousness, this is really what every Sixers fan has been waiting for since the 2013 Draft, when it became evident the team was punting the actual basketball portion of this season away as part one of a several year rebuild.

I know the lottery has been the event I’ve been looking forward too since it will finally clear up which talent we can finally place in a 76ers uniform. The draft is just a formality, the drama is all in the ping pong balls. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever looked forward to a non-athletic event sporting event more than this lottery.

The good news is that the Sixers, who currently have the second highest percentages of landing the top pick, can do no worse than five.  And there are definitely five terrific players available if not more.

Of course, the worry is that they fall out of the top three and miss out on the opportunity for Wiggins and Parker. I don’t really want any part of Embiid and I don’t believe there’s any chance Wiggins and Parker will not go 1-2 when it’s all said and done on June 26.

Obviously Wiggins is my preferred pick for this team, I’ve watched almost all of his college games and while he may not have been as productive as Parker, he seems like his upside is greater, plus he plays better defense.

While I will be satisfied with Wiggins or Parker, I’ll be happy with Julius Randle or Aaron Gordon too.

The thing is, since the Sixers are likely to get the Pelicans pick (No.10) coming out of this draft with two very good prospects, say Randle and Gary Harris, is just as good, if not better than walking away with only Wiggins or Parker.

I’m not expecting them to land a top two pick, in part because of the sheer nature how how the lottery is rigged in favor of team’s the league wants to see succeed, such an unpredictable beast and two, the Sixers performed the greatest tank job in modern sports history this year. I kinda think karma might come back and bite them for that.

**The Basketball Gods can only watch a five man rotation of Eric Maynor, Byron Mullens, James Anderson, Henry Sims and poor, poor Thad Young before they start getting suspicious.**

**Also, I don’t know if the above was an actual combination of basketball talent for the Sixers at one point this season, but the sad part is you probably believed it to be true didn’t you?

All year long I’ve felt like they will end up at No.3, so I’ll leave that as my official prediction.

All I know is all those hours reading Chad Ford’s scouting reports and mock drafts as well as highlight videos, college basketball games and playing with ESPN’s Lottery Mock Draft simulator will finally pay off come Tuesday evening.

And while it will be disappointing not to come away with the top pick, when it comes to the unpredictable NBA Draft lottery, one of the few guarantees is that it will be a successful night for the Sixers no matter how it plays out.