Utah and Philly: The Tale of Two Teams

The Jazz and the 76ers are fun teams to watch, both teams rich with young talent and storied pasts let’s take a look at what brought them to this point.

On July 14th, 2017 Jazz Star player Gordon Hayward decides to sign with his former college coach, Brad Stevens in Boston. The franchise was shocked, they had been slowly working towards putting a great team together, with Ricky Rubio, Rudy Gobert, Derrick Favors and a lot of other young talent this team had been positioned for a postseason push. Then catastrophe struck when their best player decided to hitch a ride East. It was looking as though an overhaul and rebuild were in the team’s best interest until Donavan Mitchell, selected by the Denver Nuggets and traded to the Jazz started playing. Averaging 28 points in two games in the summer league opened some eyes but of course seasoned NBA fans articulated that the lack of talent in Summer League was the main component of this great scoring outburst. Plus, two games is a very small sample size. Jazz fans were excited but not hopeful.

Fast forward now, Donavan Mitchell is the real deal, as a rookie averaging 20 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.6 assists he has arrived. Not only are his stats great, but when Utah was hit with a flurry of injuries and Ricky Rubio was playing badly, Mitchell put the team on his back and willed them through an 11 game win streak and then a 9 game win streak. For a team looking to rebuild just months ago, these are great accomplishments. They are still playing for their playoff lives and with Denver and the Clippers nipping at their heels they are currently the 8 seed in a very tough Western Conference this year.

Philly is Killing It

Joel Embiid has arrived and we must all Trust The Process. Ben Simmons this year is averaging 16.1 points 7.8 rebounds and 7.9 assists. Historically only 3 players have done this before 22, and the other two are Oscar Robertson and Magic Johnson. That’s Insane! Especially for a player with no semblance of a shot to speak of. He also passed Magic Johnson with the second most triple doubles by a rookie and although he’s not catching Oscar Robertson’s 26 triple double rookie record it still is a great bearing on how great he is after just one season.

This team is the 4th seed in the Eastern Conference Standings, trailing the Cavs by 1.5 games and they are poised to make a deep run. Their team is very deep with great shooters such as JJ Reddick, Robert Covington, Ersan Illysova, And Dario Saric, and Embiid has been healthy all year, breaking from the label that he couldn’t stay on the court. Their defense has been great with Simmons, Saric and Embiid anchoring their efforts and they have beat some of the best teams in the league.

This is the polar opposite of what the 76ers were thought of just last year, with Embiid playing 30 games there was a glimmer of hope but, injuries to him and Simmons and Jalil Okafor not playing well, attributed to a stigma that this team would never get it together. They were 28-54 last year, currently they sit at 40 and 30 with 12 games to go. It is conceivable that they could be 20 games better than last year. I’d say the process has worked.

Both of these teams have surprised everyone. Both of these teams have young superstars, and both of these teams will be fun to watch for years to come. I can’t wait.