10 Things in Philly Sports to be Thankful for in 2017
With the Thanksgiving holiday behind us, sports fans in South Jersey have plenty of things for which to be thankful. Yes, we know the Phillies missed the playoffs for a Sixth consecutive year, and the Flyers haven't gotten off to a great start.
Still, sports in Philadelphia have come a long way since hitting potentially their lowest point in a long time in 2015 when the Sixers won just 10 games, the Phillies won just 63 games, the Eagles won seven games, with Chip Kelly getting fired in-season.
Just two years later there are plenty of things to be thankful for in the city.
1. Carson Wentz
Wentz is a potential MVP of the league and has become the face of the franchise that they hoped for when they moved up to the No. 2 pick in the draft to select him in 2016. His 25 TD's lead the league, three ahead of Tom Brady. He has thrown for 2,430 yards and just five interceptions.
"I think that with Carson leading the offense and kind of being the face right now and getting a lot of the accolades, he's the most humble guy you come across," Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said about Wentz. "He'll give it right back to the team. He understands that this is a team game. So everything that he's getting, he deserves by the way he prepares and studies."
Per ESPN stats & Info, his 25 Pass TD this season are the third most in his team's first 10 games of season by a first-or-second-year quarterback all-time (only Dan Marino and Kurt Warner had more).
2. Joel Embiid
The Sixers 23-year-old center is the eighth player in the NBA with at least five 20-point, 10-rebound games this season. He is one of five players averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds (stats.NBA.com).
After waiting two years to see him play, he has been worth the wait, to the tune of a new a five-year, $148 million extension with the 76ers.
3. Ben Simmons
The 21-year-old Sixer is the only player in the NBA averaging 18-plus points, nine-plus rebounds and seven-plus assists (stats.NBA.com).
Simmons might be one of the most entertaining players to watch already in the NBA, and at 21-years of age, he is just scratching the surface of where he can take his game.
4. Rhys Hoskins
In 50 games this season, the Phillies 24-year-old slugger had 18 homers, 48 RBI and 37 runs scored to go with a .259 batting average. He became the fastest player in MLB history to 18 homers, in 34 games, the previous record was 44 games, a full 10 more than it took Hoskins to get there.
5. Robert Covington
The poster boy for the process, Covington has averages of 16.1 points, 5.9 boards, 1.7 steals, 1.6 assists blocks and 3.4 treys on 46.1 percent from the three-point range this season. Covington was rewarded for his development with a four-year, $62 million contract extension that will keep him around Philly for four more seasons.
6. Doug Pederson
While he might not have been many fans first choice, he has become the right choice, leading the Eagles to an unselfish 9-1 mark in 2017.
"I think it develops," Pederson said about the teams selfless attitude.
"But I saw it last year, even when we went on, I think, that five-game skid there during the middle part of the season. This time of the year we lost those games, and it was still a selfless locker room and a locker room that was not divided, not pointing fingers. They came to work every day."
"You're seeing the same work ethic today that I saw last year at this time. So it's just a tribute to the guys and to the messaging of the team and them buying into it and believing it and knowing that they're a good football team."
Pederson has zigged when many may have zagged, his play-calling has been excellent and his ability to rotate players, keep them fresh and happy has been a big reason the Eagles are one of the favorites to win the NFC at this point. He has taken input from many, and implemented it into his game-plans.
"Well, my job is to make sure that we stay focused and stay grounded," Pederson said.
"We've just got to continue to stay with the one-game mentality. That's been a good formula for us this season. We can't get looking down the road and upcoming opponents and scenarios. That's for the media to speculate on and talk about."
"But we've just got to make sure that we maintain our focus, understand what got us to where we are right now today, and continue that process moving forward."
6. Markelle Fultz
While Fultz has yet to make an impact this season, missing time with a scapular muscle imbalance in his shooting shoulder, he could be the missing ingredient for the 10-7 Sixers to really take off once the calendar hits 2018.
"They’re waiting on Markelle [Fultz] to get back and put all the pieces together," said Golden State Warriors guard Steph Curry after their recent matchup with the SIxers in Philadelphia.
"They’re ready to turn the page from building, to cementing their identity. They’re pretty close and they play an exciting brand of basketball. In the first half they showed they can come out and do some pretty exciting things."
The good news is, the soreness is dissipating and the muscle balance is improving, and Fultz will continue with physiotherapy and begin progressing toward full basketball activities.
7. Sean Couturier
The former eighth overall pick is up to 23 points in 22 games this season, he is less than halfway to his career high of 39 points set during the 2013-14 and 2015-16 seasons. He has finally given the Flyers exactly what fans hoped they were getting when he was selected in the first-round in 2011. Centering the Flyers top line, he has given them a bona-fide leader around Jake Voracek and Claude Giroux.
8. Nolan Patrick
While the Flyers offense has struggled since starting the season hot, here's hoping that getting the No. 2 overall pick back into the lineup will help jump-start their ability to put the puck in the net. In 13 games, he has just four points after missing nine-games with a concussion.
9. Howie Roseman and Joe Douglas
Yes Howie Roseman deserves to be on the list. Trading for Wentz has give them Eagles their face of the franchise quarterback, but he has added pieces that have perfectly fit into the Eagles locker room. Tim Jernigan, Ronald Darby, NIgel Bradham, Alshon Jeffery, Rodney McLeod, LeGarrette Blount and Jay Ajayi are just some of the key guys he has brought in. To have a special team, someone has to make some special moves, and Roseman, with some help from Douglas has done that.
10. The listeners of South Jersey
I started this journey back in 2005 at what was then 1450-AM, and now 97.3 ESPN, and many of you have been with me and the show all along the way. I have tried to evolve the show to entertain and inform everyday. First we added Todd Ranck to the show, which was produced by Pete Giordano. Doing that show every day was truly a blast, we had genuine fun every single show, three years people still talk about that show.
The current show and my current partner Pete Thompson has added to the show everyday, which is produced by Josh Hennig.
Without these guys the show isn't the same.
It's a credit to their hard work and dedication to the product that we can entertain and inform the way we do daily. Pete's experience in the industry, his ability to tell stories, being a true fan, coupled with our overall genuine friendship hopefully as given you, the listeners a fun show daily. We truly enjoy working together and giving you guys the best product we can every day.
Josh's work behind the scenes, scheduling guest for the show, uploading the interviews to our YouTube channel so everyone has the ability to go back and listen, researching and doing just about anything and everything else that needs to be done.
We truly enjoy doing the show everyday, but having some good teams and talent to talk about makes it that much better!
Adding Middays with Q, with Rich Quinones, plus having the Sixers, Flyers and Eagles, we are South Jersey's Sports leader, but only because of you, the listeners!
After signing a new deal to remain at 97.3 ESPN to host the Sports Bash, let's hope 2018 gives us even more things to be thankful for!