The Top 10 Philadelphia Sports Stories to Follow in 2016
It might not be an exaggeration to say 2015 was one of the worst sports years in Philadelphia sports history. From the tankapaloza, the Phillies being the worst team in baseball, Chip Kelly getting fired and the Flyers missing the playoffs, it seemed there was never a good, positive moment. We can only hope 2016 has more wins and interesting moments.
With that, here are the top 10 storylines that we'll be focused on in 2016:
10) Flyers in the playoffs?
The Flyers currently trial Boston by seven points for a wild card spot, after missing the playoffs last season and hiring a new coach the Flyers are 15-15-7 through 37 games, second to last in the Metropolitan, as of right now the Flyers seem like they are on the right path under the guidance of GM Ron Hextall, but another year out of the playoffs wouldn't be a surprise.
9) Is it Sam or Jerry
For the Sixers the draft lottery will be a huge night for the future of the franchise, but one of the biggest questions will be who will be making the pick - Sam Hinkie or Jerry Colangelo.
8) Jahlil Okafor’s progress
It’s safe to say 2015 was a success for the Sixers first round pick, No. 3 overall, Jahlil Okafor. At the year’s end, he led the team in even strength scoring and posted 17.1 points and 7.8 rebounds in 31 games. Pretty solid for a rookie on a low-scoring team that could end up the worst team in NBA history. He has flashed dynamic skill, had dominant games but at time he hasn't fit into the team's scheme very well. Once Okafor gets more talent surrounding him, he should be a more efficient player, the question to watch in 2016 is how will will he fit with Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid.
Many were hopeful that Shayne Gostisbehere would be a top power play guy, but you usually don’t expect a defenseman to be great as fast as Gostisbehere has become one of the Flyers top players. The former third-round pick has 14 points in 22 games and has played an outstanding all-around game for a 22-year-old. Even with Mark Streit back, Gostisbehere remains on the top power play unit and could be one of the reasons the Flyers take a step towards making the playoffs.
6) Franco and Nola
The two young Phillies made an impact in 2015, but all eyes will be on the duo in 2016 when they take steps to become the face of the team and the rebuild. Matt Klentak made moves this off season to make the Phillies younger, but Franco and Nola are maybe the two most important pieces of the rebuilding Phillies.
5) Draft lottery
The Sixers have the worst record in the NBA and the chances that they pass anyone in the standings are slim-to-none at this point, meaning they will be rooting once again for the ping-pong balls to bounce their way in June. The likely No. 1 overall pick is most likely LSU forward Ben Simmons, a Magic Johnson-esque prospect who is currently a freshman. If the third time is a charm for Philadlephia, the Sixers will be a very interesting team in 2016.
4) Who will Fix the Defense
The struggles of the Philadelphia Eagles’ defense have been well publicized, the birds check-in at 30th among NFL defenses in total yardage allowed in 2015, and have given up an average of 450.2 total yards over the last six weeks. What looked like a promising unit early in the season, disappointing years from Kiko Alonso, DeMeco Ryans and Byron Maxwell were just some of the issues that will most likely lead to Billy Davis being fired.
3) Superstar Embiid
Joel Embiid has been doing some on- and off-the-court work on 76ers' West Coast road trip, but that's about the most action he has seen since he was drafted by the Sixers in 2014. If the Sixers "process" ever takes a step in the right direction, they will need Embiid to take his first steps on the court in 2016. Sixers coach Brett Brown has said Embiid is "leaps and bounds ahead" of where he was mentally this time last season, and they are going to need him otherwise anther tank could be in the cards in 2016 - this time not be design.
2) Who’s the quarterback?
Sam Bradford has posted some impressive statistics over the last two weeks (back-to-back games with at least 360 yards), but there are still plenty of reasons to be skeptical about whether he can take the next step toward becoming a true franchise quarterback. Bradford passed for 3,405 yards, 17 touchdowns and 13 interceptions, while completing 64% of his passes entering the final week of the season. The question is will he back back in 20156? He is a free agent and admitted the new coach could have an impact on whether he comes back to Philadelphia next season. A weak free agent and draft class could land Bradford a big contract somewhere - will it be Philadelphia?
1) Who is the Coach?
Does this need any explanation? Chip Kelly was fired and the search begins...
Maybe 2016 will be better in Philadelphia, these are some of the things that can help make it better.