Sergei Bobrovsky Is the New Nik Vucevic, And the Hits Just Keep on Coming

Sergei Bobrovsky Is the New Nik Vucevic, And the Hits Just Keep on Coming

Young guys. Talented or potentially talented. Ruled extraneous with the addition of two high-profile, veteran acquisitions at their positions. Acquisitions that have not gone to plan.

The young guys, by the way, are flourishing.

By now, we're all familiar with the tale of Nik Vucevic, whom the Sixers selected 16th overall out of USC in 2011. The 7-foot center played in 51 games in last year's lockout-shortened season for 15 minutes per, scoring 5.5 points and 4.8 rebounds, before appearing in just one playoff game for a grand total of 180 seconds.

He was traded to the Orlando Magic this summer so the Sixers could land Andrew Bynum and is now fifth in the NBA in rebounds per game (11.4) and fourth in rebounds per 48 minutes (16.8). Bynum, of course, has not played a game with the Sixers and possibly never will (cue your outrage at my use of the word possibly).

But now, we're being reminded of Bobrovsky, who was traded to Columbus this summer for a second-round draft pick and two fourth-round choices. Bob carried the load in his rookie season (28-13-8, 2.59, .915) before flaming out down the stretch, giving way to the Flyers' 2011-playoffs goaltending carousel that resulted in Mike Richards and Jeff Carter's exit from Philadelphia and a nine-year, $51 million contract for Ilya Bryzgalov. Made a backup upon Bryz's arrival, the then-23 year old played in 29 games last season, posting a sub-.900 save percentage and was sent out of town when it didn't make sense to have a young kid back up a guy with eight years left on his contract.

Bob's numbers weren't anything to get excited about for the first three weeks of the season, but then he started being quietly good, and now he's impossible to ignore. In his last five games, he's allowed just four goals, posted two shutouts and stopped 124 of 128 shots sent his way. That stretch has dropped his season-long GAA to 2.27 and raised his save percentage to .919.

Bryzgalov is now — and was as soon as the CBA was released — the topic of amnesty speculation. He's currently overworked, looks shaky, has a sub-.900 save percentage, and without improvement could be bought out sometime during the next 18 months.

There is no one on the planet who wouldn't have parted with Vucevic for Bynum.

And so long as the Flyers were committed to Bryzgalov, it didn't make sense to have Bobrovsky on the bench. It's really tough to argue that the club could have gotten any more for him, because he was losing value as a backup with a +3.00 GAA and -.900 save percentage.

To argue that the Sixers or Flyers should have done anything different at the time is to try to look intelligent after the fact.

That said, after the fact, in retrospect, with hindsight being what it is, now that the cards are out on the table, insert euphemism here, the Flyers and Sixers are — at this very moment — on the short end of both trades.

The only way to actually tell for sure, over the long-term, is to come back six months from now, or a year from now, or two years from now, or a decade from now, and check again — when the moment will have past.

Eagles-Vikings predictions by our (cough) experts

Eagles-Vikings predictions by our (cough) experts

The Eagles are coming off two straight losses and the slate doesn't get any easier with the 5-0 Vikings coming to town.

It also marks the return of Sam Bradford, who was traded just before Week 1, paving the way for rookie Carson Wentz to start.

The Eagles kick off against Minnesota at the Linc on Sunday at 1 p.m., so it's time for our (cough) experts' predictions for the Week 7 matchup.

Dave Zangaro (2-3)
I'll admit, this game just has a weird feel. It has the feeling like the Eagles might be able to catch the Vikings sleeping after their bye week and hand them their first loss of the season.

I was almost tempted to pick the Birds in this one.

But I'm not.

Ultimately, the Vikings are just the better team. I'm not sure how the Eagles are going to put up points against them. And I'm not convinced the Eagles' defense will be able to stop anyone after what we saw last weekend.

They keep it close, but the Birds fall to 3-3.

Vikings 20, Eagles 17

Derrick Gunn (2-3)
The good news is Minnesota's offense is ranked 30th in the league and the Vikings' run game is dead last averaging 70.6 yards per game. 

The bad news is the Vikings' defense is a monster, ranked 2nd overall and first in points allowed at 12.6.

There is not a weak link in the Vikings' D and they are fundamentally sound across the board. The Eagles' defense vows that what happened to them at Washington — allowing 230 rushing yards — won't happen again. 

Carson Wentz got roughed up by the Redskins' pass rush, and unless the Eagles' offensive line plugs the leaks, more of the same could happen this Sunday. The Birds have every reason to rebound at home, but I just don't like the overall matchup. 

Vikings 20, Eagles 13

Ray Didinger (2-3)
The Vikings aren't going undefeated. You don't go 16-0 in the NFL with a 30th ranked offense which is what the Vikings have. Yes, their defense is very good. Going back to last season they have held each of their last nine opponents to 17 points or less. They are deep, fast and well-coached by Mike Zimmer. But the offense led by Sam Bradford coughs and sputters a lot.
As a result, the Vikings will play a lot of close, low-scoring games and somewhere along the line they are going to lose. It could even happen this week when they play the Eagles. Special teams could be huge. The Eagles have a big edge with kicker Caleb Sturgis. Vikings kicker Blair Walsh has already missed three field goals and two PATs. However, the Vikings return men -- Marcus Sherels on punts, Cordarrelle Patterson on kickoffs -- are very dangerous. I expect the Eagles to keep it close but in the end I have to go with the superior defense.
Vikings 21, Eagles 16

Andrew Kulp (2-3)
Which Eagles defense shows up on Sunday? If they can limit Minnesota's anemic ground attack, which ranks dead last in the NFL, this should be a close game. Sam Bradford is playing really well, but it's not like he's airing it out all over the place.

Then it becomes a question of how Halapoulivaati Vaitai responds to a rough debut. The Vikings pass-rush is fierce, so it doesn't get any easier this week. As long as the protection gives Carson Wentz a chance, that will at least give the rookie signal-caller a shot at making a few big plays.

For some reason, I like their chances at both. It's going to be another ugly one, but the Eagles do just enough to squeak by.

Eagles 20, Vikings 19

Corey Seidman (2-3)
I foresee a low-scoring game in which the Eagles are more competitive than some might think.

But in the end, the Vikings have the personnel and the defensive-minded head coach (Mike Zimmer) to get key stops down the stretch.

Vikings 20, Eagles 16

Andy Schwartz (1-4)
You’re still reading? 

Well good for you. Much appreciated. 

Because clearly I certainly don’t know what to expect from this team. 

But let’s forget all that for the moment and look at the Bradford Bowl. 

The Vikings’ offense is hardly scary (30th in the league in yards per game behind the Rams and Niners), but their defense is (second in yards per game behind Seattle).

The Eagles’ offense is hardly scary (22nd in yards per game), and their defense (sixth in yards per game) was pretty scary a few weeks ago.

So let’s look at the intangibles. Which team needs this game more? The Eagles. And they’re at home. 

But given the outcomes the last two weeks and that Minnesota is unbeaten and coming off a bye, it certainly makes sense to pick the Vikes, who are favored by 2.5.

Then again, the Eagles not too long ago were unbeaten and coming off a bye … and we all know what happened.

So I’ll say the Birds pull off another upset and remain unbeaten at the Linc. 

Just don’t bet on it.

Eagles 6, Vikings 5

Report: Nerlens Noel expected out 3-5 weeks after left knee surgery

Report: Nerlens Noel expected out 3-5 weeks after left knee surgery

It appears the Sixers' frontcourt logjam may not be an issue early on.

Nerlens Noel, who is having surgery Monday for an inflamed plica in his left knee, will miss the first three to five weeks of the season, according to Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Noel suffered a left groin injury in the first preseason game against the Celtics and missed the rest of the preseason. While undergoing treatment, Noel reported left knee soreness, which led to the discovery of the inflamed plica.

It's been an odd start to the season for Noel. The big man was outspoken about his displeasure with the Sixers' frontcourt situation early in camp. With the deadline for Noel's rookie contract extension approaching on Oct. 31, the team has not had conversations about it, according to a report.

The Sixers are already without No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons as he recovers from surgery to repair a Jones fracture in his right foot. The team will also be without their starting point guard Jerryd Bayless who is dealing with a ligament issue in his left wrist. Bayless won't require surgery and will be reevaluated in two weeks.