The Jahlil situation is a mess, but at least we still have Nerlens

The Jahlil situation is a mess, but at least we still have Nerlens

Jahlil Okafor was rewarded a DNP - REST in the box score last night, as the Sixers took on the Hornets in Charlotte. The real reasons for Jahlil's absence, of course, were far too long and complicated to fit into one stat line, as our No. 3 overall draft pick's was instructed to not even travel with the team, with a trade -- finally, a trade -- supposedly due any moment. It was at least three days ago that Okafor was informed of the team's intentions to move on -- which is why he also sat out the Miami game -- and as of writing, Jah certainly appears to us plebs to still be a Liberty Baller, with trade talks seeming to only get more abstract in the hours since. 

This is not a good situation. It's going to be exceedingly difficult to welcome Okafor back to the team now, but you have to imagine that every day he sits, our leverage in working out a deal for him lessens. I didn't really expect the team to deal him this far ahead of the trade deadline, but when a team holds a player out due to an imminent trade, usually it means the trade is actually imminent. To put Jah in limbo like this makes us look cruel, and possibly downright silly. 

But as badly as this is going, you can only get so mad, because it could've been so much worse. As much as the Colangelos may have mishandled this (and some other recent personnel issues), you have to give them a decent amount of credit for one thing: They seem, at least for now, to be holding onto Nerlens. Though things got so bad with our Process O.G. a couple months ago that a trade seemed nearly as inevitable as it currently seems for Jah, they declined to deal the center for 40 percent on the dollar. And good thing, because right now, he's playing like an absolute star, and perhaps the biggest reason they picked up their third W in a row last night in Charlotte. 

In the 105-99 win, Nerlens had 12 points (on 5-6 shooting) and seven rebounds, with three steals and two blocks. Pretty good stats for 28 minutes of play, but I don't think they really do his contributions justice -- he was everywhere for the Sixers on defense last night, constantly helping and recovering, switching where necessary, jarring balls loose and disrupting possessions at every possible corner. I used to be bothered by his lack of rebounding (only 9.3 boards per 36 minutes this season, his career-worst rate), but now I realize that he's barely ever in rebounding position only because we ask him to be so many other places for us as well. (Our other forwards are picking up the slack for him anyway -- particularly Dario Saric, who had his fifth double-double of the season last night with 18 and 11.)

And I think we might be overlooking his offensive contributions a little, as well. His stats there are a career-best this season -- 16.3 points per 36 minutes on an incredible 61% shooting -- but again, the real impact is non-statistical, as the gravity he pulls just by diving into the rim and forcing the defense account for him as a lob threat opens so many things up for both our point guards and our surrounding shooters. It's how Tyson Chandler managed to be the fulcrum of such effective offenses in Dallas and New York, and it bodes really well for how effective he can be playing with both Ben Simmons and whatever wing talent we add to the team before next year. 
 

Of course, this isn't to say that Noel will definitely be a Sixer forever. At some point in his development alongside Joel Embiid -- who we, uh, have to hope will come back at some point -- having Noel around as a backup center might be enough of a luxury that it's worth seeing if we could score a real bounty for him on the trade market. But while Embiid is injured, and before we really see what they can do on the court together -- I still get heart palpitations picturing JoJo holding down the middle on defense while Nerlens causes anarchy on the perimeter -- having #4 around allows us to be competitive in every game, and actually win a bunch of 'em too. As badly as Jahlil Okafor's end days with the Sixers are currently being handled, as long as it's his bags they're prematurely packing and not Noel's, we're still coming out on top.

Watch: Dario Saric not pleased with more water, then remembers to Trust the Friendship

Watch: Dario Saric not pleased with more water, then remembers to Trust the Friendship

We thought T.J. McConnell learned.

Remember? Pouring water on Dario Saric is not a good idea?

Yeah, thought that was clearly understood after one Sunday in January.

But McConnell was at it again on Friday night after his buddy Saric poured in a career-high 32 points during a 117-107 win over the Bulls. Just like last time, McConnell struck during Saric's postgame interview with CSN's Molly Sullivan.

And, just like last time, Saric looked like he wanted to destroy his point guard.

Look at it unfold ...

But Saric remembered his mantra: Trust the Friendship.

For the postgame moment, watch below. For highlights from Saric's career night and the full interview, watch the video above.

More details emerge about NFL draft experience on the Ben Franklin Parkway in Philly

More details emerge about NFL draft experience on the Ben Franklin Parkway in Philly

Football fans have been pretty excited about the NFL draft coming to Philadelphia but details surrounding the event have been relatively scarce.

The Mayor of Philadelphia's office released more details this afternoon about what exactly will be going on in front of the Art Museum and along the Ben Franklin Parkway.

They had said previously that they expect a record-setting 200,000 fans through the experience.

Here are some of the highlights.

The fan festival activities will be FREE and last for three days along a half-mile stretch of the Ben Franklin Parkway. This will include "interactive exhibits, immersive games, and virtual reality experiences, free player autograph sessions and more."

Hours for the fan experience:

Thursday, April 27: 12 pm - 11 pm

Friday, April 28: 12 pm - 11 pm

Saturday, April 29: 10 am - 6 pm

In addition to the special fan fest experience, a number of the museums in the area will be offering special discounts or even free admission.

The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University will offer free general admission during those three days of the draft will discounts on special exhibits. The Barnes Foundation will be closed on Thursday for a special event but will maintain normal business hours (10 am - 5 pm) on Friday and Saturday. The Franklin Institute will be open to the public from 9:30am-5pm during NFL Draft days (April 27-29).

There will be a plethora of road closures starting in phases as early as April 10th. The full extent of the road closures will begin on the 25th at 12:01 am and include the following:

21st Street closed from Winter Street to Spring Garden Street
     *   Local access to Pennsylvania Avenue only (all traffic must turn left)

  *   22nd Street closed from Race Street to Spring Garden Street
     *   Local access to Park Towne Place only (residents)

  *   23rd Street closed from Fairmount Avenue to Benjamin Franklin Parkway
     *   Local access only

  *   24th Street closed from Benjamin Franklin Parkway to Park Towne Place
     *   Local access only

  *   Martin Luther King Drive closed at Sweet Briar Drive.
     *   Road opened daily during peak AM rush hour on 4/27 & 4/28 (5AM-10AM) for access to I-676 via 24th Street

  *   Kelly Drive closed from Benjamin Franklin Parkway to Fairmount Avenue

  *   Spring Garden Street Bridge closed at 31st Street
     *   Road opened daily during peak AM rush hour on 4/27 & 4/28 (5AM-10AM) for access to I-676 via 24th Street
     *   Access to I-76 westbound will be maintained
     *   Local access to Art Museum will be maintained

  *   Spring Garden Street closed from 22nd Street to Benjamin Franklin Parkway
     *   Local access after peak AM rush hour

  *   Pennsylvania Avenue closed from Hamilton Street to Fairmount Avenue
     *   Local access after peak AM rush hour

  *   Pennsylvania Avenue/Callowhill Street closed from 20th Street to 21st Street
     *   Local access to Barnes Foundation driveway (westbound) only
     *   Eastbound open from 21st Street

  *   Park Towne Place closed from 22nd Street to 24th Street
     *   Local access only (residents)

  *   I-676 westbound 22nd Street off-ramp closed

From our previous post on what the Fan Fest experience will entail:

Among the NFL Draft Experience fan events:

·       Combine Corner – From racing against NFL players to running routes, fans can test their football and athletic skills at Combine Corner, which includes the Vertical Jump and 40-Yard Dash.

·       NFL Virtual Reality – Experience NFL games using virtual reality technology.

·       The Vince Lombardi Trophy – Fans will have the opportunity to take their photo with the Super Bowl trophy.

·       AFC & NFC Locker Rooms – Visit a replica NFL locker room as it appears on gameday. Experience the sights of an NFL pregame with sleek translucent LCDs.

·       NFL Museum (Pro Football Hall of Fame display area) – This exhibit features historical Eagles memorabilia, Super Bowl rings and Conference Championship trophies. Fans can get a digitalized Pro Football Hall of Fame bronze bust in their likeness.

·       College Football Corner – Fans can view College Football Hall of Fame memorabilia from former first round Draft picks and Eagles legends, and cheer on Draft prospects from their favorite college team. Life size player mannequins offer unique photo opportunities.

·       NFL Draft Experience Tailgate – Enjoy selections from some of Philadelphia’s best restaurants in a “taste of the town” tailgate.

·       NFL Network Set – Watch NFL Network analysts break down the NFL Draft.

·       ESPN Set – Check out SportsCenter LIVE from NFL Draft Experience.

·       NFL Shop at Draft – Stop by for the largest assortment of NFL Draft merchandise, including customizable Nike Jerseys and the official 2017 NFL Draft Cap by New Era and other exclusive Draft caps.

·       NFL Draft Set – Visit the official NFL Draft set from Thursday to Saturday and see the view from behind the podium.