Four-for-Four: The Chase Utley Damage-Control Edition

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Jan 15, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard Michael Carter-Williams (1) dunks during the third quarter against the Charlotte Bobcats at the Wells Fargo Center. The Sixers defeated the Bobcats 95-92. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

From the twitter account of’s Reuben Frank, a great follow I might add for any Philadelphia sports fan, the latest in the ‘Michael Carter-Williams is historically awesome’ archive in the following tweet.

Even when MCW is not at his best, he manages to rack up stats very quietly. His ability to draw fouls, collect offensive rebounds, and his uncanny ability to see plays develop one step ahead has allowed him to maintain a pretty consistent statline. If the team starts shipping off parts, its possible that the statline might skew more towards scoring and less toward distributing. That said, this team has had surprise contributors on a nightly basis it seems. Nevertheless, it is nice to see that Carter-Williams is playing on a nightly basis and still managing to impress in almost every contest.


Speaking of surprise contributors, Tony Wroten is looking more and more like he could be the 76ers version of Lance Stephenson. He has all the talent in the world, he just needs a coach with the patience to teach and an opportunity to play. It is early, but Wroten looks like he could be quite the find.

Junkyard Dog, comin’ in hot.


C-Joel Embiid; Kansas (Freshman); 7’0″ 250 lbs-10.9 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 2.6 bpg

Jan 11, 2014; Lawrence, KS, USA; Kansas Jayhawks center Joel Embiid (21) dribbles the ball as Kansas State Wildcats forward Thomas Gipson (42) defends during the second half at Allen Fieldhouse. Kansas won 86 – 60. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Our second duo of potential draftees in the 2014 NBA draft start’s with Kansas big man Joel Embiid. Overshadowed by teammate Andrew Wiggins and Duke’s Jabari Parker, Embiid has somehow flown under the radar as far as a potential top pick. Early on, it looked as if Parker might run away with the distinction, but a recent swoon paired with Embiid’s consistent solid to spectacular play has the Cameroon native taking the proverbial torch. Embiid’s smooth, sometimes effortless all-around game almost makes you forget he is 7’0″ and has only played organized basketball for two years. His last contest, a road game against 8th ranked Iowa State, had Embiid put on a show in all facets of the game. He blocked five shots, scored 16 points on 7-8 shooting, collected nine rebounds, and even tallied a couple of steals before fouling out in a Jayhawks win.

Considering the presence of Nerlens Noel in the 76ers future plans, its tough to envision a scenario where Embiid would be the team’s selection. I would imagine the team is focused on bringing in their franchise scorer to help bridge the defensive and all-around prowess of Carter-Williams and hopefully Noel. That said, Embiid’s potential seems limitless and his offensive game looks like it is improving on a nightly basis. If the 76ers were to take a ‘best player available approach’, Embiid would have strong consideration as the top prospect in the draft.

F-Julius Randle; Kentucky (Freshman); 6’9″, 250 lbs-16.9 ppg, 11.1 rpg

Alongside Parker and Wiggins, Randle was lumped in as a likely candidate for the top overall selection come 2014’s draft. While a slight tail off in production paired with Kentucky’s presence in the low-profile SEC has taken the spotlight off of him, the southpaw power forward is still impressing every game. From a production standpoint, Randle might be the ‘safe’ pick in the upcoming lottery. His tenacity on the offensive boards, ability to outmuscle defenders, and an impressive combination of range and quickness allow Randle to score in bunches. He has a mastery of playing the game with his left hand and brings a contagious attitude of intensity to those around him.

Randle’s ball-handling and jump shooting ability should help him counteract the fact that he is on the short side as far as power forwards go. Kentucky’s struggles might suggest that Randle might not be at the level some thought he would be at this point in his short career. I would argue more that the team around him is playing a lot like at squad loaded with freshman learning how to win at the collegiate level. Personally, even at the start of the season, I was not a huge proponent of the 76ers targeting Randle. However, the concept of him and Noel working a high-low game (depending on the progression of Noel’s jump shot) is an appealing one.