By Colin Anglim
Carson Wentz. Joel Embiid. Ben Simmons. J.P. Crawford. Ivan Provorov.
These are the names you will hear most when listening to the chatter about the future of Philadelphia sports.
Some have received their first taste of the professional level and some have yet to do so.
The Philly sports scene has been quiet…really quiet.
The Eagles last won a playoff game in 2008. The Phillies have not made the playoffs since 2011. The Flyers have not won a playoff series since the 2011-2012 season. And the Sixers are coming out of their darkest three-year stretch in franchise history.
The four major sports franchises have young stars or potential stars to help wake up the sports landscape in the “City of Brotherly Love.”
The Eagles have what most NFL teams do not, a young, promising quarterback. With Wentz and the influx of more young talent, the Eagles should be able to compete in the NFC East sooner rather than later.
The Phillies have the most young talent in the city. Baseball America, a site that scouts players from high school to the majors, ranks the Phillies farm system as sixth best in the MLB.
Now that there are no more members of the 2008 championship team lingering in the Phillies clubhouse, the nucleus for the future consists of third baseman Maikel Franco, outfielder Odubel Herrera, and pitcher Aaron Nola.
This summer the city should get to see Phillies top prospect J.P. Crawford at some point in the big leagues. Outfielder Nick Williams and catcher Jorge Alfaro could join Crawford if things go right.
The plan is clear for the Phillies: sign veterans to short term deals to buy time for some of the prospects in the minor leagues. When the kids are ready to come up, go out in free agency and spend where needed.
All eyes point to the winter of 2018, when one of the best free agent classes in MLB history hits the market with guys like Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, and Josh Donaldson.
Even though they have not made the jump everyone was hoping for this season, the Flyers are in good hands going forward. General manager Ron Hextall is committed to building through the draft. Head coach Dave Hakstol has integrated rookies Ivan Provorov, 20, and Travis Konecny, 19, into his system.
Both have had their moments this season. Provorov leads the team in ice time and Konecny brings speed and quickness.
Like the Phillies, the Flyers have one of the best farm systems’ in their respective league.
Going into this summer, the Flyers will have cap space. For the past couple of years, they have been restrained from signing top free agents. Hextall will be able to dip into free agency to find secondary scoring, arguably the biggest weakness this team faces on a nightly basis.
But the team that has created the most buzz around Philly so far this year is the Sixers. Embiid has shown flashes of being a superstar in the NBA. Rookie Dario Saric has played remarkable since February and has put himself into the rookie of the year discussion.
It was depressing to learn in late February that Embiid was going to miss the rest of the season with a torn meniscus. Not to mention that we will not see Simmons play a regular season NBA game until October at the earliest.
Barring injury, which is a big question mark, Embiid is a franchise player.
In only 31 games, on a 28-minute restriction, Embiid averaged 20 points and almost eight rebounds.
According to Basketball Reference, given Embiid’s stats per 36 minutes, he would have been averaging 28 points and 11 rebounds. That is MVP caliber.
Health is the only thing that will hold “The Process” back from being a generational player.
Simmons will be unproven when he steps on the floor, but his future is like Embiid’s, bright.
The Sixers could have two top-5 picks come June for the NBA Draft, depending on how the draft lottery goes.
Since 2013, the Sixers drafted “best player available.” Now, they can draft for “need.” They need shooters and maybe a point guard depending on how Simmons can fit into the NBA game.
It has been difficult to be a Philadelphia sports fan for the past five years. We watched the Eagles hire a stubborn coach who lasted only two-plus seasons, the Phillies be one of the worst teams in baseball, the Flyers only advance in the playoffs once, and the Sixers blow three seasons.
Still, it was worth it.
There is a youth movement among the four franchises, a movement that consists of young players with superstar-type ceilings. It is time to get excited about what could be the golden era of Philadelphia sports.
Contact Colin Anglim at firstname.lastname@example.org