The Sixers' New Mr. 500, Royce White

The Sixers' New Mr. 500, Royce White

You might recall a couple years back that in advance of his rookie season with the Philadelphia 76ers, Temple big man Lavoy Allen was ranked at the very bottom of ESPN's yearly rankings of the Top 500 players in the NBA. The "Mr. 500" nickname kinda stuck with young Lavoy, and after he had a rookie season that was much more productive than most predicted, starting 15 games for the playoff-bound Liberty Ballers, ESPN's Henry Abbott even paid Lavoy a visit to apologize to him for the slight. The next season, Lavoy <a href="">rocketed all the way up to #232 on the ESPN rankings, and all was right with the world.

Until today, anyway. The ESPN NBA rankings have begun once more, and for the second time in three years, a Sixers player with no NBA experience is ranked #500, though this time it's only technically a rookie--recently acquired power forward Royce White, who due to anxiety issues and poor fitness may or may not be playing for the Sixers this season, but is said to have All-Star potential if he could ever get his mind and body in NBA game shape. Royce even falls five behind Sixers teammate Tim Ohlbrecht, who has played a grand total of 12 minutes and scored three total points in his similarly young NBA career.

Unsurprisingly, Royce has had taken to Twitter to address the matter, responding understandingly (sarcastically?) to being the new Mr. 500 and retweeting a healthy cross-section of other responses to his ranking:

Will Royce be able to get the minutes with the Sixers next year--any minutes at all--to improve his ranking? Well, if he's down, Hinkie's probably down, but player and team still have a long way to go before that can become a reality. Here's hoping we at least get to see some of Royce in action when pre-season tips off in three weeks.

Tonight's lineup: Struggling Tommy Joseph, Cameron Rupp sit

Tonight's lineup: Struggling Tommy Joseph, Cameron Rupp sit

Tommy Joseph and Cameron Rupp, both struggling mightily through the first month of the season, will get Saturday night off when the Phillies take on the Dodgers in Los Angeles.

Joseph is hitting .190 with one homer and 18 strikeouts in 18 games, while Rupp is batting .180 with one homer and 20 strikeouts through 15 games. Last season, Joseph had 21 home runs and Rupp 16.

Brock Stassi will spell Joseph at first base and bat seventh. Andrew Knapp takes over for Rupp behind the plate and will bat eighth.

Daniel Nava also receives a start, playing left field. The first-year Phillie is hitting .346 with a pair of homers and as many walks as strikeouts (seven).

Zach Eflin takes the mound in a meaningful start for the right-hander (see story). He opposes resurgent Dodgers righty Brandon McCarthy (see game notes).

Here are tonight's lineups:

Phillies
1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Freddy Galvis, SS
3. Odubel Herrera, CF
4. Maikel Franco, 3B
5. Michael Saunders, RF
6. Daniel Nava, LF
7. Brock Stassi, 1B
8. Andrew Knapp, C
9. Zach Eflin, P

Dodgers
1. Andrew Toles, CF
2. Corey Seager, SS
3. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
4. Yasmani Grandal, C
5. Yasiel Puig, RF
6. Cody Bellinger, LF
7. Chase Utley, 2B
8. Chris Taylor, 3B
9. Brandon McCarthy, P

Eagles draft Washington DT Elijah Qualls with final pick

Eagles draft Washington DT Elijah Qualls with final pick

With their final pick of the 2017 draft, the Eagles selected 6-foot-1, 313-pound Washington defensive tackle Elijah Qualls in the sixth round on Saturday.

He's the second Washington player the Eagles took in this year's draft. They selected injured cornerback Sidney Jones in the second round (see story).

Qualls had 77 tackles, 11½ tackles for loss and 7½ sacks in 30 career games (see bio).

"I for sure stop the run well," Qualls said at the NFL Draft Scouting Combine. "And I'm actually a lot better pass rusher than a lot of people think. Typically a lot of our game plan as far as pass rushing was to keep the quarterback contained, so I really couldn't get after him like I'm capable of.

"I'm not going to say I'm one of the best pass rushers ever or anything like that — I've only been playing defensive line since I got to college. I'm still learning, but I'm a lot better than people do think."

Qualls was actually a running back in high school, but he said he got bored scoring touchdowns.

"I was 260 playing running back in high school," he said. "I had 1,300 rushing yards, though. It honestly became too easy, that's why I switched to defensive line. Scoring touchdowns wasn't exciting to me anymore, it was just something I expected.

"Then my last year, my coach came to me and said, 'Hey, would you be willing to play some defense?' My mindset was that if I played defense, I could get the ball back. So I played some defensive line, middle linebacker. I was recruited at both of those positions.

"I kind of just did a little research project trying to see what the long term was like for both running backs and defensive linemen, and defensive linemen tend to last longer, have less severe injuries, and honestly on average probably make more money, so I decided to be a defensive lineman. Plus I like the challenge."

With Bennie Logan leaving as a free agent, the Eagles have Fletcher Cox, Tim Jernigan, Beau Allen and now Qualls in the mix on the interior of the defensive line.

"I feel like I can fit into any scheme," Qualls said. "I can do anything you ask me to, I played everything from zero to outside linebacker, so there's not much I can't do. It's just whether or not someone can accept me being a couple inches shorter than the person they prefer playing there.

"But I'm stronger than a lot of people, and my football intelligence is top notch."