Catching Up with Sixers Training Camp

By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)

It may seem hard to believe, but we’re less than a week away from the first Sixers preseason game up in Massachusetts. In the meantime, the boys in red, white, and blue have been getting to know each other a little more intimately on the court during training camp at Stockton University.

Over the course of the week, the biggest takeaway for me has been the fact that the Sixers decision-makers are (rightfully) focusing on making sure Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid are placed in the best position to succeed. The rest of the roster will just have to fall into place and sort itself out naturally.

Embiid has been working as the center in what has typically been viewed as the “starting group” during scrimmages. Coach Brown also reiterated the “crown jewel” comment from back at the media luncheon.

While Embiid is going to be on minutes restrictions and unavailable for back-to-backs, if he’s penciled in as the starter most nights, it means Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor are going to be in a heated battle for the leftover burn at the 5 position.

Meanwhile, one guy who is going to receive all the minutes he can handle is first overall pick Ben Simmons. Over the last few days, the Sixers have been using him at practically every position aside from center.

Although his lack of outside shooting likely makes him best suited to the power forward position at this stage of his career, Simmons’ elite quickness for a man this size could certainly create some interesting matchups as he slides down in position. Playing him as the true point (not just nominally bringing the ball up with an off guard like Bayless on the court) could unlock a Sixers lineup with 5 guys 6’9″ or taller; something that may not work practically, but would certainly be incredibly fun to watch.

Of course, the flip side of all this is that a number of players are playing out of position. The Sixers have already mentioned Jerami Grant will be playing exclusively at the 3, even though he’s been much more effective as a small-ball power forward in the past. Likewise, it seems like Robert Covington won’t be seeing any time at the 4, where he was also at his best last season. He’s been logging his minutes in scrimmages at small forward and even some shooting guard.

Finally, the third rookie lottery pick, Dario Saric, has been getting a lot of time at small forward, despite indications that he should naturally be a power forward, or maybe even a small-ball center. For Saric to have any shot to work as a three, he’s going to have to keep working on that outside shot which has improved quite a bit the last couple years. Early indications from camp show that he may be up to the challenge.

In the end, other things will sort themselves out and I largely agree with the Sixers’ strategy to focus on the success of their two blue-chip prospects in Simmons and Embiid. After all, we can talk about other things all we want, but when it comes down to it, here’s the heart of the Process.

Clash of the Cappers – 2016 Week 4

By Josh Mansilla (@Manzilla36)

Throughout the 2016 NFL season, NFL handicapper Josh Mansilla will be providing his weekly plays, along with a brief write-up on how he sees the games playing out. We’ll track his picks alongside those of other capper, Dan Urda, to see who best assisted our readers throughout the season. Dan’s picks for Week 4 can be found on this week’s podcast.

Season Records

Josh Mansilla: 2-1

Dan Urda: 9-9

Bengals -7 (Thursday Night Football)

Editor’s Note: Josh mentioned that even with the line moving up to 7.5 in a lot of books, he still likes the Bengals at that number.

I lost a tough one last week as the Saints D just did not show up. Add that to a rare Drew Brees pick-6 in the red zone and it was smooth sailing for the Atlanta Falcons. In this matchup, we have a Bengals team that sits at 1-2 and lost a rare game at home last week to a very impressive Broncos team. The dominance of the Broncos D is no secret and they let that be known with a win on the road in a tough environment. The Bengals will be extra motivated this week and I like their offense to rebound and be very productive. What better opponent to do that against than one of the league’s worst pass defenses.

Although the Dolphins got their first win last week, it was at home to the Cleveland Browns and they needed overtime to do it. The Fins are now back on the road (where they are 0-2 on the season) facing a motivated Bengals team, and frankly, Miami is just not a good team. This game is a must win for Cincy, as they do not want to fall to 1-3 so early on in the season looking up at the Steelers and a surprising Baltimore team in their division.

The Bengals are 19-5-1 SU at home dating back to the 2013 season and have only lost back-to-back home games once during that time period. Look for the Bengals to get their ground game going early which in turn will open up to big plays in the air attack. AJ Green had a quiet 8-77 stat line against a top defense last week and I think he erupts for a monster afternoon and is a must start in DFS lineups. Let’s start a new winning streak backing a home team that is 19-6 ATS in their last 25 home games dating back to the 2013 season (playoffs not included).

Survivor Pick

I am going with the safest play on the board, that being the Cincinnati Bengals for the reasons I mentioned above. Arizona is also a solid pick looking to bounce back at home after a tough road loss. The most popular pick will be the Redskins and let’s see if we can a top pick to finally fall this week.

Good luck.

2-on-1 Fast Break Podcast: 2016 NFL Week 4

By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak) & Dan Urda (@DanUrda)

NFL handicapper Dan Urda is back on the line to discuss the atmosphere at the Eagles dominant win over the Steelers, before getting into his plays for Week 4.

Week 2 Record: 2-3; Season Record: 9-9.

Listen to the podcast on the SoundCloud site.

Or listen via the embedded player below:

Please contact us via twitter or our facebook page to provide feedback on what we’ve done so far, or for questions you’d like answered on future editions of the podcast.

Toughest Stretches on the Schedule for the Sixers

By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)

RIP Brett Brown’s beard

Even for Sixers fans who consider themselves staunch supporters of the Process, it’s been a rough few years. As much as you try to find small signs of hope and little idiosyncrasies to enjoy, it’s no picnic watching a team lose night after night over 82 games.

On top of simply losing a lot of games, the Sixers have also had a knack for going on excruciatingly long losing streaks the last three seasons. Philadelphia lost the first 18 games last season, the first 17 the year before, and struggled to the record-tying 26-game losing streak back in 2014-15.

Although the team is projected to improve more than any other in the league this season, a year around 27-28 wins still doesn’t exactly scream juggernaut. Let’s take a look at the toughest stretches of the season where the team could potentially hit the skids (the number to the right is the opponent’s projected win total).

Compressed Schedule

vs. Pacers Nov. 11 – 43.5

at Hawks Nov. 12 – 43.5

at Rockets Nov. 14 – 41.5

vs. Wizards Nov. 16 – 42.5

at Timberwolves Nov. 17 – 41.5

This is the hardest stretch of the year simply by virtue of the calendar, as the Sixers play 5 games in 7 nights, all against teams expected to be .500 or better. This week is actually preceded by games against Cleveland, Utah, and another against Indiana, so there’s a chance for a long losing skid.

Have to Hope for Home Cooking

vs. Raptors Jan. 18 – 49.5

vs. Trailblazers Jan. 20 – 46.5

at Hawks Jan. 21 – 43.5

vs. Clippers Jan. 24 – 53.5

vs. Bucks Jan. 25 – 39.5

This portion of the schedule is slightly easier than the one above, as it’s a more manageable 5 games in 8 nights, and 4 of the games are at home. Still, it includes a pair of back-to-backs with the most winnable game against a decent Bucks team on the tail end of one of those. This stretch also includes the annual game where the Clippers come to the Wells Fargo Center, dunk on everyone, and win by 30.

Head West, Young Sixers

at Trailblazers Mar. 9 – 46.5

at Clippers Mar. 11 – 53.5

at Lakers Mar. 12 – 25.5

at Warriors Mar. 14 – 66.5

vs. Mavericks Mar. 17 – 39.5

This group contains 4 teams fighting for spots in the Western Conference playoffs…and the Lakers. Even the Lakers contest is a road game on the tail end of a back-to-back though. Seeing the Oracle Center rocking while the Golden State superteam unleashes hell from downtown should be one of the highlights of the season from a basketball standpoint, even if not from a scoreboard perspective for the Sixers.

On the Road Again

at Pacers Mar. 26 – 43.5

at Nets Mar. 28 – 21.5

vs. Hawks Mar. 29 – 43.5

at Cavaliers Mar. 31 – 57.5

at Raptors Apr. 2 – 49.5

The Pacers and Nets games are the final 2 of 5 games on the road, tied for the longest road trip of the season. Brooklyn is obviously the glaring possible win, but as the last game on the road trip, as part of a back-to-back, it shouldn’t be necessarily counted upon as a W. All other games come against Eastern Conference playoff contenders, including the lone trip to Cleveland of the season.

Simply by virtue of an 82-game season, all teams have difficult portions of their schedule. Given how young the Sixers roster is, we’ve seen in past years how a few losses can affect the team’s confidence and snowball into a larger stretch of poor play. That’s why it’s especially important navigate these tricky section of the schedule and prevent that from happening. The veterans Bryan Colangelo has brought in should be expected to help the team focus and stay the course.

Clash of the Cappers – 2016 Week 3

By Josh Mansilla (@Manzilla36)

Throughout the 2016 NFL season, NFL handicapper Josh Mansilla will be providing his weekly plays, along with a brief write-up on how he sees the games playing out. We’ll track his picks alongside those of other capper, Dan Urda, to see who best assisted our readers throughout the season. Dan’s picks for Week 3 can be found on this week’s podcast.

Season Records

Josh Mansilla: 2-0

Dan Urda: 7-6

Saints -3 (Monday Night Football)

Big game here for the Saints. You could almost say it’s a must win for them. They had a tough loss at home Week 1 to the Raiders and another tough loss Week 2 at the Giants. Have you ever been to an emotional home game for the Saints?!?! They come through in big ways; it’s one of the best atmospheres to be at in all of sports.
The Falcons are coming off a big road win and I just do not accept the fact that they are a proven team, especially in what looks like a big-time let-down spot. They started 6-0 last year before going on a terrible downswing and missing the playoffs. Matt Ryan is a top QB in the league?!?! No thanks. I’ll roll with Drew Brees and what looked like an improved defense against the Giants. Look for a comfortable 31-17 Saints victory.
Survivor Pick
I’m taking Dallas. Yes, Cutler is gone and Hoyer is in, but I treat that as a wash. However, Danny Trevathan is also out, which to me is a bigger loss considering how much I value offensive vs. defensive line matchups, and Trevathan’s ability as a highly-efficient tackler coming up from the inside linebacker position. Behind their dominant offensive line, Dallas should be able to run the ball with ease and would be my top play to cover a 7-point line if they had a veteran QB like Brees, instead of a largely untested rookie like Dak Prescott. Watch out for the Cleveland Browns to back door cover or possibly even win against Miami and hopefully take down some of the square survivor backers!
Good luck, until next week.

2-on-1 Fast Break Podcast: 2016 NFL Week 3

By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak) & Dan Urda (@DanUrda)

It’s Week 3 in the NFL and the injuries are piling up. Dan Urda is back on the line to discuss who becomes fantasy-relevant, while going through his best bets for the weekend.

Week 2 Record: 4-5; Season Record: 7-6.

Listen to the podcast on the SoundCloud site.

Or listen via the embedded player below:

Please contact us via twitter or our facebook page to provide feedback on what we’ve done so far, or for questions you’d like answered on future editions of the podcast.

Sixers Projected 2017 Win Total Announced

By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)

Between the drafting of first overall pick Ben Simmons, the expected professional debut of a currrently healthy Joel Embiid, and the stateside arrival of Dario Saric, the offseason for the Philadelphia 76ers has been swirling in nothing but optimism. Apparently, the powers that be in Las Vegas happen to believe those good vibes will translate to the court, as they posted a regular season win total for the Sixers of 27.5 wins.

Clearly, the warlocks in the desert feel the team will be much improved from the squad that won just 10 games a year ago. Even more though, this projected win total is well above the numbers in the teens and low-20’s which Vegas pegged the team at prior to the last couple seasons. On another occasion, I’ll get into why I feel 27.5 wins is a bit too high. For now, it’s just good to know that the public perception holds that the franchise is moving in the right direction.

Potential Draft Implications:

  • The Sixers win total is the 4th-worst listed among all teams, ahead of the Nets (20.5), Lakers (24.5), and Suns (26.5). If Philadelphia did finish with the 4th-worst record, they would have an 11.9% chance at the first overall pick from their pick alone.
  • Except that the Sixers also own the rights to swap picks with Sacramento in the 2017 draft. The Kings are projected to have the 5th-worst record in the league (32.5). Such a finish would be tremendous from the Sixers’ perspective, as they would receive an extra 8.8% chance of getting the #1 pick by virtue of the Sacramento spot in the lottery.
  • The other high-profile draft asset for 2017 is the Lakers’ top-3 protected first-round pick. As mentioned above, Los Angeles is projected to have the 2nd-worst record. Sixers fans will have to hope that the Lakers are slightly better than Vegas predicts, or that the lottery gods drop the Lakers down a couple spots. In a very deep 2017 draft, Philadelphia wants this pick to convey this year.
  • Finally, as a result of the Kendall Marshall-Tibor Pleiss deal with Utah, the Sixers have a couple 2nd-round picks to track during the season. Philadelphia will receive from the Jazz the most and least favorable 2nd-round picks of Golden State (66.5), New York (38.5), Detroit (45.5), and Utah (47.5). Vegas expects those picks to end up as the Knicks’ selection around pick 40, and the last overall pick from the Warriors.

While Vegas certainly knows a lot more than any of us, they don’t actually know everything. We’ll still have to see how things play out on the court over the next 6-7 months.

Clash of the Cappers – 2016 Week 2

By Josh Mansilla (@Manzilla36)

Throughout the 2016 NFL season, NFL handicapper Josh Mansilla will be providing his weekly plays, along with a brief write-up on how he sees the games playing out. We’ll track his picks alongside those of other capper, Dan Urda, to see who best assisted our readers throughout the season. Dan’s picks for Week 1 can be found on this week’s podcast.

Season Records

Josh Mansilla: 1-0

Dan Urda: 3-1

Broncos -6

Like last week, we are taking a team with a superior advantage on both the defensive and offensive lines. If you haven’t realized by now, the Broncos can win with basically anyone under center. They beat the Panthers last week with a QB who made his first ever start. The Broncos turned the ball over 3 times and still managed to come away with a victory.

The Colts are just not a good football team. Their offensive line allowed the most sacks last year and they have not gotten any better. They couldn’t even beat a bad Detroit team at home in their opener. The Broncos O-line will allow them to run the ball and CJ Anderson should have another big week. Siemian will get comfortable in the pocket and I do not see this offense turning the ball over as much as they did week 1. This will allow Denver to control the game and the Colts will have to play from behind, which has bad news written all over it. Indianapolis does not have a running game and Denver’s pass rush will eat them up.

In the last 27 seasons, the Denver Broncos are 28-3 at home in the first 2 weeks of the season. This can be attributed to the difficulties the road team might face when playing in the altitude early in the season. Just one more thing the Colts would need to overcome; I like Denver to walk away with an easy victory.

Survivor Pick

The Denver game is also a solid pick in Survivor pools, but me personally, I am taking the Carolina Panthers. The Cats are -14 at home vs. the 49ers, which is almost certainly going to get me to week 3. The Broncos have 3 home games between weeks 5-8 where they will be comfortable favorites much like this game, so I plan on saving them for one of those weeks in my Survivor pool.

Good luck everyone.

From Boardroom to Chalkboard: Sam Hinkie Alive on Twitter

By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)

hinkie_twitter

(Update: Per Deadspin, Sam Hinkie will not be teaching at Stanford, but be acting as a guest speaker. It’s still fun to speculate, though, and he is, in fact, alive.)

He lives! Contrary to popular belief, former Sixers GM Sam Hinkie did not die for our sins. Wednesday afternoon, he reached out to the public with his first 10 tweets ever on his long-dormant twitter account.

Sam’s family is now living in Palo Alto, CA, he apparently loves snowboarding, and perhaps most interestingly, Hinkie will be teaching at Stanford University.

Courtesy of the fine people at Stanford, we received an exclusive faux-look at the list of courses Professor Hinkie will be teaching over the next couple semesters.

Strategic Leadership

This course examines fundamental issues of general management and leadership within an organization. You will learn about setting an organization’s strategic direction, aligning structure to implement strategy, and leading individuals within the firm. Much of the material will focus on a strict adherence to a drafting the best player available philosophy. Not covered: what to do when you’re stuck with two-thirds of your roster being big men who can’t play together.

Ethics in Management

This course emphasizes frameworks for conducting ethical analysis (on what basis can you say that a course of action is or is not ethical), the analysis of ethical dilemmas (how do you think about situations in which different ethical precepts collide), and how to deal on a day-to-day basis with the practical issues of ethical behavior in organizations. In particular, we’ll cover how to proceed and still do what’s best for your organization when ownership has planted a nefarious, bloodthirsty snake in your midst as a special advisor. Think of this course as Defense Against the Dark Arts for the modern workplace.

Optimization and Simulation Modeling

Disciplined thought is often based on analytical models: simplified, quantitative depictions of a complex reality that allow you to focus your attention on a few key issues. Management runs on numbers and models. We’ll break down lottery odds, expected gains from pick swaps, and the overwhelming importance of planting plenty of seeds in order to build your orchard. Not covered: how to speed up timelines so that disgruntled owners don’t force a league commissioner to implement a coup.

Human Resource Management

The human resources of an organization are often the most valuable assets of the organization, and the assets that are most difficult to manage. Whether it’s having to release yet another player on a 10-day contract, shuttle Lorenzo Brown back and forth to Delaware every week, or persuade second-round picks to sign long-term, team-friendly deals, interacts with people is a key to success. Not covered: dealing with uninformed media types stuck in the stone age.
Sounds enlightening! Make sure to get your name on those waiting lists. Until then, see you on the slopes.

2-on-1 Fast Break Podcast: 2016 NFL Week 2

By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak) & Dan Urda (@DanUrda)

Fresh off a strong 3-1 showing in week 1, our NFL handicapper Dan Urda rejoins the podcast to discuss a packed slate of plays for the upcoming weekend.

Listen to the podcast on the SoundCloud site.

Or listen via the embedded player below:

Please contact us via twitter or our facebook page to provide feedback on what we’ve done so far, or for questions you’d like answered on future editions of the podcast.