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Joel Embiid causes uproar with forecast of Cavaliers’ demise, Sixers’ rise

Joel Embiid causes uproar with forecast of Cavaliers’ demise, Sixers’ rise

“Joel Embiid predicts 76ers will end Cavs’ reign as soon as next year” -- Sporting News

If Joel Embiid does one thing almost as well as he plays basketball, it’s make headlines. The only problem with that is occasionally his words wind up getting blown out of proportion.

Technically, Embiid expressed his belief that the Sixers can compete with LeBron James and the defending world-champion Cleveland Cavaliers next season. Then again, promoting that as the heart of Embiid’s statement really isn’t in the spirit of what he said.

You be the judge. Is Embiid predicting the Sixers will end the Cavaliers’ reign, as multiple outlets are suggesting? Or is he simply observing the Sixers are built to one day take the Cavaliers’ place as the class of the Eastern Conference, and should be able to fight for a spot at the table as soon as 2018?

“I think we’re building up at the right time and when we start getting good that’s when Cleveland and LeBron (James) will start going down,” Embiid said at the NBA draft lottery on Tuesday, via Keith Pompey for the Philadelphia Inquirer. “I think when it is all said and done and we actually mature and are ready to compete for a championship, I think we’ll be great.”

“When I say we are going to be ready to win when the Cavs are going down, that doesn’t mean five years. Next year, I think we are going to be ready to win.”

It’s pretty clear what Embiid was driving at here. James is 32 and bound to start slowing down soon. As he does, the Cavs will slide with him. Meanwhile, the Sixers are set to make their fourth consecutive top-three pick in the NBA draft this year. They have a chance to develop into a dominant force over the next decade, but if everybody is healthy, are certainly talented enough to compete right now.

That seems fair. The condensed version, on the other hand, only aims to put a target on the Sixers’ backs.

“Joel Embiid says 76ers gearing up to beat Cavaliers, LeBron James” -- ESPN

“Joel Embiid Says 76ers Will Win Next Year” -- Bleacher Report

“Joel Embiid Says Lebron and Cavs ‘Going Down’” -- Total Pro Sports

The fact of the matter is Embiid is correct -- that is, what Embiid actually said. The Cavaliers are built around the best player in the NBA, and as his talent erodes, their time at the top dwindles. Whenever that time comes, five years from now or next, the Sixers will be poised to strike.

Then again, there was one story that both takes Embiid to task and probably has it right.

“Joel Embiid is targeting the Cavaliers but he should be aiming for the Celtics” -- Philadelphia Daily News

With the Boston Celtics emerging from the lottery with the No. 1 pick, already playing the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference finals and sharing the Atlantic Division with the Sixers, Embiid may have his sights sets on toppling the wrong foe.

Eagles preseason stock report, Week 2: Mychal Kendricks up, LeGarrette Blount down

Eagles preseason stock report, Week 2: Mychal Kendricks up, LeGarrette Blount down

Carson Wentz was impressive in the Eagles’ second preseason contest against the Bills on Thursday. While he did not look sharp early in the game, the way he was able to bounce back and finish strong was very encouraging.

Wentz missed two of his first three passes, badly overthrowing the intended receiver on both plays. He scrambled for a short gain on another play where he easily could’ve unloaded the football for a bigger chunk. Not coincidentally, the Eagles failed to record a first down on their opening three drives.

That easily could’ve been it, but Wentz went back out for a fourth series and played better, completing five of his last six attempts for 45 yards. The drive ended with a fumble, but Wentz showed resilience.

Sometimes we forget Wentz is a second-year quarterback. There are still going to be ups and downs this season – stretches of series and perhaps even games where he doesn’t find his rhythm. However, he also showed an ability to let it go and stop pressing here when the game didn’t get off to the start everybody would hope.

While not his best evening from a numbers standpoint, Wentz’s stock is still very much on the rise. Unfortunately, not too many of his teammates on offense could say the same after this effort.

STOCK UP

Mychal Kendricks
Preseason or not, Kendricks was everywhere. The sixth-year linebacker saw extensive playing time, finishing with two tackles for loss, 1.0 sack and one interception. The crazy part is the numbers don’t really do the performance justice. Kendricks was rushing the passer, providing sound coverage and just generally in position to make plays. One good outing may not translate into more snaps come the regular season, but Kendricks managed to rebuild some confidence in his ability. Who knows, it may have been enough to entice a team to make a trade offer the Eagles can’t refuse.

Ronald Darby
This should go without saying, but Darby was impressive in his Eagles debut. In fact, the most disappoint aspect of his night may have been when he dropped a likely pick-six. He of course made up for it later with a 48-yard interception return. Darby’s speed and instincts were on display for both plays. He was patient and in sound position, as opposed to some overly aggressive ballhawks that gamble, and had the athleticism to close on the football and finish the play. If this preview was any indication of what’s to come, Darby could feast behind the Eagles' front four.

Corey Graham
With Ron Brooks nursing a hamstring injury, the Eagles used Malcolm Jenkins at nickel cornerback and brought in Graham to play safety. That could also be a package the Eagles go with depending on the match-up, with the 32-year-old defensive back showing he still has something left. Graham finished with five tackles, at one point coming up from his spot at safety to make a nice stop in the backfield. He hit hard and demonstrated some value on special teams. Signed two weeks ago, it’s clear Graham has already overtaken Terrence Brooks and Jaylen Watkins on the depth chart.

Corey Clement
Clement has been the most productive running back on the team through two preseason games. The undrafted rookie out of Wisconsin rushed eight times for 34 yards and one touchdown versus the Bills, and his 24-yard carry is the Eagles’ longest of the summer. Yet, the area where Clement has been most impressive is in the passing game. He’s shown some ability as a receiver, but more important, he’s been willing and effective in pass protection. Given all the issues in the Eagles' backfield, Clement is going to have a legitimate shot to make the 53-man roster should this continue.

Alshon Jeffery
It was only two receptions for 24 yards, but with that, Jeffery was able to provide a glimpse into why the Eagles have kept him in bubble wrap this summer. His 14-yard slant was especially exciting. While the grab was as easy as it gets in the NFL, Jeffery showed a little explosiveness after the catch. Everybody talks about the highlight-reel catches, but Jeffery is an all-around weapon who can get it done on short and intermediate routes as well. This was a nice preview that should leave people wanting to see more.

STOCK DOWN

LeGarrette Blount
Through two games, Blount has 17 yards rushing. To put that in perspective, he also has 15 yards receiving. In Blount’s defense, the offensive line has not given him much room to run. At the same time, the 30-year-old back doesn’t look like a great fit for the offense. He’s slow to the corner, he’s not really a threat as a receiver out of the backfield, and he’s not great in pass protection, either. Add a drive-killing fumble to Blount’s preseason resume as well. With Clement’s emergence, Blount’s roster spot might be up for grabs, especially if Wendell Smallwood can show anything.

Lane Johnson
Johnson played poorly, with the caveat that he was starting at left tackle rather than the right. Of course, Johnson is the emergency option there, so it’s not as if he gets a pass. There were at least three plays where the fifth-year lineman was beaten badly, resulting in a run getting stuffed in the backfield, a quarterback sack and a holding penalty. He was only in for 18 snaps. It’s not as if this was the first time Johnson played the position, either. Granted, Johnson would no doubt improve if he were on the left full-time, but in a pinch, he’s still a little scary.

Matt McGloin
The Eagles won’t feel the need to carry three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster. Most of McGloin’s passes down the field are errant at best, with too many balls being forced into double coverage. One such attempt resulted in an easy interception on Thursday. McGloin simply doesn’t have the arm strength to get away with those mistakes. He doesn’t look comfortable in the pocket, either, a combination that tends to result in a lot of check downs. Fortunately for the Eagles, Nick Foles is healthy and expected to play next week.

CSN's Jim Salisbury suffers unfortunate (but hilarious) pregame injury

CSN's Jim Salisbury suffers unfortunate (but hilarious) pregame injury

The Phillies are having a rough week on the West Coast. They've dropped four straight games to bad teams in the Padres and Giants, but they haven't been quite as unlucky as CSN Phillies insider Jim Salisbury, who last night suffered an unfortunate injury that we can laugh at only because he's OK.

While the Giants were taking infield practice prior to Friday's game at AT&T Park, Salisbury was being interviewed outside the visiting dugout by a San Francisco reporter. Shortstop Brandon Crawford, a Gold Glover last season, uncorked a throw to first base that sailed a bit wide, bounced, and ... hit Jim in the worst of all spots.

It's really a video you need to see for yourself (up above).

Crawford clearly felt enough guilt to send Salisbury a parting gift.

Make sure to ice today, Jim.

Hans Moleman could not be reached for comment.