We're comparing Michael Carter-Williams to who now?

We're comparing Michael Carter-Williams to who now?

As exciting as the first month-plus of Philadelphia 76ers rookie point guard Michael Carter-Williams' career has been, we're long-trained as sports fans to be a little wary of any hot start by an athlete that seems a little bit too good to be true. After all, MCW was taken with the 11th pick in a historically weak draft, his college stats were good but flawed, and he struggled for most of the pre-season. It seems inevitable that sooner or later, he'll turn out to be over-achieving and regress to the kind of subpar rookie numbers we expected of him as he learned to adjust to the pro game, right?

Well. ESPN recently released their annual Top 25 Under 25 ranking for NBA players for players they'd most like to build around, and as is probably warranted giving his incredible rookie season, the 22-year-old Carter-Williams placed #15 on the list--five spots higher than Jrue Holiday, the man he replaced as Sixers PG, it should probably be noted. That's cool, and it's good to still have someone from the Sixers on the list, now that Jrue is gone and Thaddeus Young and Evan Turner have aged out of eligibility, and Nerlens Noel is still a ways away from being able to prove himself worthy.

But what's really notable about MCW's appearance on the list is the blurb in his entry from ESPN analytics expert Kevin Pelton. At the end of each player's write-up, Pelton writes a little about each players' likely future development (based on the findings of his SCHOENE projection system), and what type of player they're likely to evolve into--although, in the cases of some players, like Detroit's Greg Monroe and L.A.'s Blake Griffin, he says that they've basically topped out, and what you see with them is probably already about as good as it's gonna get.

That, however, is not what he has to say about Michael Carter-Williams:

SCHOENE's five most similar players to Carter-Williams: [Penny Hardaway], Baron Davis, Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook and Jason Kidd. We might have ranked him too low.

Woah. Five All-Stars, at least a couple of whom are likely future Hall-of-Famers, and really, five of the most exciting players to watch of the last 20 years of NBA hoops. And...we have a guy like this on our roster? The third-year Syracuse alum we took 11th in the worst draft ever, who can't really shoot or anything? The guy who Bill Simmons predicted was gonna lose his job to Nate Wolters by the end of the season when it looked like we were drafting Wolters in the second round?

OK, so SCHOENE can't literally predict the future--at least not with 100% guaranteed accuracy--and just assuming MCW is gonna follow the career paths of those five franchise talents because the first 15 games of his career started out like theirs is probably a little foolhardy. Still, to hear that MCW not only isn't being predicted by the NBA smart guys to collapse before season's end, but that he really might only be scratching the surface of his pro potential...goddamn, that's something to get excited about.

The lesson here, as always: Sam Hinkie is the true Fifth Beatle, and should be worshipped accordingly.

Flyers Notes: Wayne Simmonds defends hit on Andrei Markov

Flyers Notes: Wayne Simmonds defends hit on Andrei Markov

MONTREAL — Wayne Simmonds didn’t feel as though he did anything wrong. Or that he even touched Andrei Markov.
Thing is, however, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety may have a different view of it come Tuesday morning.
Early during first-period play Monday night, the Flyers' winger came out of the penalty box after serving a minor for holding and cross-checked Markov from behind.
The Canadiens' defenseman went face-first into the boards and fell to the ice, where he appeared to try and sell a penalty. Nothing came of it, but the hit will likely be reviewed anyway.
“I barely touched him,” Simmonds. “When you got a bunch of guys diving all over the place, what are you going to do? Stand on your feet.”

There were a number of tough hits from both sides in the Flyers' 3-1 loss to the Canadiens (see game recap). It was evenly played and the Flyers deserved a point.
“We played a solid game,” Simmonds said. “Obviously, we lost and it’s not what we wanted but we have four more games this week.
“We go home and we've got to be focused on the positive things that we did and carry it over the rest of the week.”
Gudas eligible
Radko Gudas has yet to play a real game this season.
The Flyers' bruising defenseman has been serving a six-game suspension for a careless hit in Boston that closed out exhibition play earlier this month.
Tuesday night, the Flyers will play the back end of a back-to-back against Buffalo at the Wells Fargo Center and Gudas likely will return to the lineup now that his suspension has ended.
“It seems like forever,” Gudas said. “I could use more games behind me. I think I’m ready with my conditioning and skill level, so I can’t wait to get back in there.”
The decision as to who comes out will be difficult. A good guess right now would be Nick Schultz.
“We've got the information at this point,” Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said. “It will be a tough decision, no question, if we are healthy.”
At some point — Nov. 5 — Michael Del Zotto will be eligible to come off LTIR. That means another veteran blueliner would become available and an even bigger problem will arise because Del Zotto carries a $3.875 million cap hit.
Barring injury or trade, when Del Zotto returns, the Flyers will have to move two players off their roster entirely just to be cap compliant.
For now, following Monday’s loss, Hakstol has to decide whether to stick with his current defense or put Gudas back in. Given the Flyers have missed Gudas’ physical presence — teams have taken liberties on smallish rookie Travis Konecny — it makes sense to reinsert Gudas.
“Obviously, teams are going to take advantage of smaller guys,” Gudas said. “I would love to be out there if anything happened. All the guys here are responsible and I think they did a pretty good job defending that. It’s not happening a lot.”
No, but it’s happened enough that the Flyers should take note of it.
Hakstol said his decision does not have to come until Tuesday.
“That’s not to say we haven’t looked at things and thought about the [issue], but that decision comes after tonight,” he said.
Meanwhile, Gudas finally has come to the conclusion that the NHL is watching his every hit.
“They’re looking at me since Day 1 I got here,” he said. “The guys made up their minds. I have to make sure I don’t give them an opportunity to call again.”
Maybe he should change his ringtone to say, “Player Safety calling.”

Loose pucks
Simmonds and Matt Read saw their four-game goal-scoring streaks come to an end. ... The Flyers were credited with 39 hits, the most they’ve had since 41 in a home game against Montreal on Jan. 5, 2016. Simmonds, Brayden Schenn and Schultz were credited with five apiece. ... Ice-time leaders: Ivan Provorov (21:31), Shayne Gostisbehere (21:27) and Brandon Manning (20:36). … Boyd Gordon was 10 for 12 (83 percent) on faceoffs. ... Jakub Voracek had five shots, giving him 21 overall, which ties him for 10th in the league. His goal gave him eight points and ties him with five other players for fourth in the NHL.

RT Halapoulivaati Vaitai 'calms the storm,' rebounds in 2nd start

RT Halapoulivaati Vaitai 'calms the storm,' rebounds in 2nd start

Halapoulivaati Vaitai wasn’t Lane Johnson on Sunday against the Vikings.

But he didn’t look like Halapoulivaati Vaitai either ... at least the version that was a revolving door last week in Washington.

In his NFL debut last week, Big V gave up two sacks, a quarterback hit and a hurry. Against the Vikings, he gave up just one QB hurry.

What led to the change?

“I just think learning from the week before, quite honestly,” head coach Doug Pederson said on Monday. “He really, again, detailed his work during the week. He practiced extremely well. He used his hands better.

“He was able to calm the storm, so to speak, and played a fine football game. He played the type that we saw [in] him and he’s capable of doing. Now it’s something that he can continue to build on.”

While it seemed like Pederson curtailed his offense some to counteract what could be a shaky offensive line, he said it was more about utilizing his team’s strengths. Still, Carson Wentz attempted just four passes that traveled over 20 yards on Sunday and didn’t complete a pass that went more than nine yards in the air.

Despite Vaitai’s scary performance in his debut, Pederson decided to stick to his plan and leave him at right tackle instead of shuffling the offensive line by moving Allen Barbre to tackle and replacing him with Stefen Wisniewski.

The jury is still out on the decision, but the Eagles probably have more confidence in their offensive line for the next eight games of Johnson’s suspension than they did before playing the Vikings.

The Eagles' O-line didn’t give up a sack to the Vikings after giving up five the previous week.

“I thought our guys [Sunday] did a great job of no sacks against a team that had 19 coming in,” Pederson said. “Protected [Wentz], kept him clean and it just gives him confidence now and gives our whole unit confidence moving forward and coming away.”