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“Too Much Sauce”: Sixers guard Stauskas spicing it up for Philly

Nik Stauskas — who adopted the nickname “Sauce Castillo” because of a closed captioning error — is spicing up the game for the Philadelphia 76ers.

Stauskas’ nickname has increased his popularity in Philadelphia, which is the same city in which rapper Lil Uzi Vert hails from. Uzi and fellow rapper Future teamed up to create “Too Much Sauce”, a song that blew up in the summer of 2016.

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photo credit: Rocky Widner/ NBAE via Getty Images

The song consists of three minutes of Uzi and Future rapping about how much swagger they have. And with the way Stauskas has been balling lately, the song is more than fitting for the third-year NBA guard out of the University of Michigan.

The 23-year-old is averaging a career-high 8.9 points while shooting a scorching 51.5 percent from the field, according to Basketball Reference. Stauskas is more than just a shooter, displaying his athleticism with acrobatic finishes at the rim early on in the 2016-17 season.

Stauskas had a season-high 15 points in the Sixers’ win against the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night, a game in which his wizardry was on display.

Stauskas’ acrobatics seem to be a current good-luck charm for the Sixers (2-9) because whenever he takes flight for a tricky layup, they win.

Stauskas was up to more tricks against the Indiana Pacers on Nov. 11.

Three words.

 

Information from Sports Illustrated was used in this report.

Follow Joaquin Jones on Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram @ joaquin_kree

 

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Embiid epitomizing “The Process” for Sixers

Joel Embiid waited over two years to prove his worth as a center in the NBA. Now, he has his chance to shine with the Philadelphia 76ers and he is doing more than living up to the hype.

In seven games played so far in 2016, the 22-year-old rookie from Yaounde, Cameroon is leading all rookies in scoring (18.0), rebounding (7.3) and blocks (2.29) per game, according to Inside Hoops. Additionally, Embiid is displaying a soft touch for a 7-foot, 250-pound big man.  Embiid is second among rookies in field-goal percentage (46.5%) and 3-point percentage (50%) and is shooting around 80 percent (79.6%) from the free-throw line.

Success was not always so tangible for Embiid.

Embiid was marred by injuries in the years prior to his long awaited rookie season. In 2014 — the same year he was drafted No.3 overall by the Sixers — Embiid suffered a stress fracture in his foot, which sidelined him the entire season. Then, Embiid rebroke the same foot in 2015, causing him to sit out all of 2015-16.

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Despite being just 22 years old, Joel Embiid has already faced and overcome adversity in his NBA career. Aaron Doster| USA TODAY Sports

Leading up to the 2016-17 season, the only pieces of visible proof that Embiid was NBA-ready were his highlights from the University of Kansas and his highly popularized rehab training videos. But that would all change.

Embiid had 20 points and seven rebounds in his NBA regular-season debut. He notched his first double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds in the Sixers’ third game of the season. Lastly, Embiid willed the Sixers to their first win of the season with a career-high 25 points in an overtime victory against the Indiana Pacers on Nov. 11.

At 1-9, the Sixers are coming off of two grueling road losses, losing to the Atlanta Hawks and Houston Rockets by a combined 48 points. Also, the Sixers are going through a period of uncertainty when it comes to the logjam in the frontcourt. They have been alternating between Embiid and Jahlil Okafor at center this year. The logjam will only get worse once Nerlens Noel and recent No.1 overall pick Ben Simmons heal from their injuries.

But one thing is for certain — Embiid, who has adopted the nickname “The Process”, is progressing really, and I mean really, well. Well enough to trigger comparisons to one of the greatest players in NBA history.

Looks like The Process is more like “The Dream” these days.

Information from ESPN, SB Nation and Basketball Reference were used in this report.

Follow Joaquin Jones on Twitter, Instragram and Snapchat @ joaquin_kree

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Top 5 surprise performers in NFL Week 5

Headlined by three second-year talents, there were a few guys in the NFL with quite surprising breakout performances this week. Check out five guys who really upped their on-field reputation in Week 5.

1. Vic Beasley, LB |Atlanta Falcons

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photo credit: Ron Chenoy |USA TODAY Sports

Beasley had three and a half sacks and two forced fumbles in the Falcons’ 23-16 upset win over the Denver Broncos, who came into Sunday with a 4-0 record. The former No.8 overall pick in 2015 struggled with creating pressure last year, totalling just four sacks and 26 combined tackles. However, Beasley already has four and half sacks in five games this year.

2. Sammie Coates, WR | Pittsburgh Steelers

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photo credit: STEELERS WIRE

Antonio Brown who? Just kidding. Coates torched the New York Jets for 139 receiving yards and two touchdowns in the Steelers’ 31-13 victory. Coates had 11 yards on two catches in his rookie season last year and had not scored an NFL touchdown prior to Sunday.

3. Tevin Coleman, RB | Atlanta Falcons

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photo credit: Justin Edmonds |Getty Images

The second-year running back came into Sunday with four rushing touchdowns on the season but it was his ability in the passing game which stood out against the Broncos. Coleman — who was concerned about playing in Denver’s low altitude because he carries the sickle cell trait — fought through adversity, racking up a career-high 132 receiving yards on four catches. Coleman also scored his first career receiving touchdown on a 31-yard strike from Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan.

4. Joey Bosa, DE| San Diego Chargers

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photo credit: Associated Press

Following a contract dispute with the Chargers in the preseason, The No. 3 overall pick in this year’s draft sat out the first four games of the season because of a nagging hamstring injury. Fortunately for the Chargers, Bosa did not fail to dissapoint in his NFL debut, tallying two sacks along with five tackles in a 31-34 loss to the Raiders on Sunday.

5. Martellus Bennett, TE | New England Patriots

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photo credit: Joe Robbins |Getty Images

Bennett had a field day in a 33-13 win against the Cleveland Browns. He had his first career three-touchdown performance and the best part is — all three of his touchdowns were thrown by Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. One would expect superstar Rob Gronkowski to do most of the scoring at tight end but now it looks like the Patriots have found a new weapon to bring the two-headed tight end monster back to life for New England.

 

Information from ESPN and NFL.com were used in this report.

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Dallas Cowboys: All hail Zeke

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliot had his fair share of ups and downs to begin the 2016-17 season but fortunately for the 21-year-old running back, his dominance in the NFL has arrived quicker than expected.

Elliot, the No. 4 pick in this year’s NFL Draft, reportedly suffered from a sore hamstring in preseason. Despite running behind what is arguably the best offensive line in the NFL, Elliot wasn’t breaking off big runs in the first couple weeks of the regular season. He also had trouble holding onto the pigskin, fumbling twice against the Washington Redskins in Week 2.

All of these issues sound like a lot to handle for an NFL rookie. But for Elliot, he just had to do one simple thing to turn it around — be the Zeke scouts drooled over when he was in college.

The former Ohio State Buckeye rushed for 134 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries in his team’s Week 5 win over the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. Elliot’s passcatching skills were also on display a bit, as he caught three passes for 37 yards against the Bengals. Elliot put his stamp on the game when he broke through the middle of Cincinnati’s defense on a 60-yard scamper, scoring his second touchdown of the day.

This rookie standout rushed for 138 yards and one touchdown on 23 carries in a win over the San Francisco 49ers in Week 4. Elliot had 140 yards on 30 carries in a win over the Chicago Bears in Week 3.

Elliot is currently leading all NFL running backs in yards (546), yards per game (109.2), carries (109), and first downs (31). He is tied for second in rushing touchdowns (5) and is first in runs of 20 yards or more (5), stats via ESPN.

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Elliot is a huge reason the Dallas Cowboys (4-1) are atop the NFC East division. photo| Kirby Lee, USA TODAY Sports

At this point in the season, it wouldn’t be surprising if Elliot is widely regarded as the best running back in the NFL by Week 6. The guy is running wild behind an offensive line loaded with Pro Bowl level talent. Elliot is not running like an “Ezekiel”.

Elliot is running like a monster. He is running like Zeke.

 

Information from ESPN and Bleacher Report was used in this report.

Follow Joaquin Jones on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat @ joaquin_kree

 

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Is 49ers coach Kelly honestly looking ‘at everything’?

The San Francisco 49ers have lost four straight games with Blaine Gabbert at quarterback, which may force head coach Chip Kelly to do something he probably does not want to — start Colin Kaepernick.

According to Taylor Price of 49ers.com, Kelly touched on the 49ers’ 1-4 start to the season in a press conference following a 33-21 loss to Arizona Cardinals on Thursday night.

“We’re 1-4,” Kelly said. “We’ve got to make sure we’re giving ourselves the best chance to win, so we’re going to look at everything.”

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Chip Kelly is in a bit of a pickle right now. | photo: 49ers.com

Exactly what does “everything” mean?

Everything is in reference to coaches, players, schemes, etc. But Kelly may actually be hinting at finally making Kapernick his No.1 under center.

When the ship is sinking for an NFL franchise, who is the first player the finger is pointed at? The starting quarterback, right? However, this does not seem to be the case with Gabbert.

The fact of the matter is — Gabbert is receiving a pity party. People want to throw out excuses like ‘the Niners are too banged up’ or my favorite; ‘Gabbert doesn’t have any weapons to throw to’.

Cry me a river! Coach Kelly has an exceptional athlete, who just so happens to play quarterback, sitting right on the sideline in Kaepernick. Just because Kaepernick is protesting the unfair treatment of minorities in America, the 49ers are afraid to let him loose on the field. Why, because of controversy?

Newsflash. Get over it.

The 26-year-old Gabbert, who is two years older than Kaepernick, has basically thrown as many touchdowns (38) as he has interceptions (37) in his six-year career, stats via ESPN. Gabbert only has three rushing touchdowns in his career.

Kaepernick, who is also in his sixth NFL season, has thrown 56 touchdowns and only 26 interceptions. Kaepernick also has 11 rushing touchdowns.

Let’s not forget Kaepernick’s MVP-caliber season in 2012, when he led the 49ers to Super Bowl XLVII. The Niners lost to the Ravens in that game but still, it was only Kapernick’s second year in the NFL.

People may ask, ‘What has Kaepernick done since then?’ Well, what has Gabbert ever done since he and Kaepernick became part of the 2011 draft class.

Prior to the 2011 NFL Draft, an article written by Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer included high praise on Gabbert’s ability. Such praise was made by former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski.

“Gets the ball out of his hand quick and can make all the throws,” Jaworski said about Gabbert. “Got the big, strong arm.”

Where is Gabbert’s cannon of an arm that can make all the throws at now?

If you’re going to look at everything, look at everything, coach Kelly. Yes, Kaepernick had three offseason surgeries and has had some issues keeping weight on. However,the Niners are recently sticking to the loss column like white on rice and Kaepernick is reportedly in good enough condition to go out and compete.

Kaapernick, who has dressed in each of the 49ers’ first five games, has yet to throw a pass this season.

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Colin Kaepernick (7) kneeling with 49ers safety Eric Reid (35) during the national anthem prior to a game against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 1. |  photo: AP/ Marcio Jose Sanchez

According to Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com, multiple players on the 49ers’ roster support the idea of third-string quarterback Christian Ponder becoming the starter.

Ponder has not thrown a single pass in the regular season since 2014.

 

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With Kanter ascending, twin tower starting frontcourt may be a go for OKC

It has been ‘Kevin Durant said this, Russell Westbrook said that’ all offseason for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Such drama is overshadowing the potential the Thunder have to form something big…real big.

Although the NBA preseason just started in early October, Enes Kanter has not wasted any time getting into regular season form. The 6-11 center averaged 26.5 points and nine rebounds in the Thunder’s first two preseason games against FC Barcelona and Real Madrid, two of the best teams in the EuroLeague.

Kanter, who only started in one game for the Thunder last year, came off the bench in Monday’s matchup against Real Madrid. 7-footer Steven Adams started at center but was forced to leave after spraining his right ankle in the second quarter.

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The combination of Steven Adams (left) and Enes Kanter (right) played an integral role in Oklahoma City’s deep playoff run in 2016. Can they carry the same momentum over into this season? Photo: Edward A. Ornelas /San Antonio Express-News

Although the Thunder lost to Real Madrid, Kanter stepped in and finished with 29 points and 10 rebounds. With Adams nursing his ankle injury, Kanter got the start against FC Barcelona on Wednesday, scoring 24 points and grabbing eight rebounds in the win.

Adams averaged eight points and just under seven rebounds in 25 minutes per game in the 2015-16 regular season. Despite playing four less minutes (21) than Adams, Kanter was a bit more productive in the box score, averaging 12.7 points and 8.1 rebounds. .

One might go ahead and say that Kanter should start over Adams because Kanter’s numbers are a bit more appealing, but why not start both of them?

After all, Adams has established himself as one of the most valuable defensive enforcers in the league. Sure, Adams only averaged slightly over one block (1.1) last season, but his ability to alter shots, grab timely boards and do the dirty work pretty much makes him a lock in the starting lineup.

The Thunder traded away Adams’ previous frontcourt starting mate Serge Ibaka to the Orlando Magic on NBA Draft night back in late June. Like Adams, Ibaka was a defensive enforcer. Despite Ibaka being able to knock down jumpers from the perimeter — which took him a few years to develop — Ibaka lacked the natural soft touch and back-to-the-basket skillset Kanter possesses.

Born in Zurich, Switzerland, Kanter has developed well since being drafted as the No. 3 overall pick by the Utah Jazz in 2011. In a three-team trade involving the Jazz, Thunder and Pistons during the 2014-15 season, Kanter was shipped to the Thunder.

Kanter was an immediate fit in Oklahoma City, averaging 18.7 points and 11 rebounds while starting in all 26 regular season games he played in for the Thunder in 2014-15.

Kanter took on the role of a secret weapon off the bench for the Thunder in 2015-16 but his resume points to the fact; this guy can really put the ball in the hole.

Last year,  Kanter shot 79.7 percent from the free-throw line, 57.6 percent from the field and proved he can step out and hit the occasional 3-pointer, going 10-for-21 (47.6 %) from behind the arc.

Kanter has also earned a reputation as a pretty humorous guy, especially on social media. On September 23, Kanter jokingly tweeted out a picture of him defending future Hall of Famer Kevin Garnett, who retired a couple of weeks ago.

And he found some time to take a pic with Adams and soccer superstar Cristiano Ronaldo while the Thunder are in Spain for the NBA Global Games 2016.

#StacheBros 2016. It’s a movement.

 

Information from NBA.com and Basketball Reference were used in the report.

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Heisman Watch: Why not UNC QB Trubisky?

The Heisman Trophy race is often highlighted by players with pizzazz and jaw-dropping playmaking ability. But one of the hottest quarterbacks in the ACC is steadily gaining Heisman hype by playing like a good old-fashioned signal caller.

University of North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky is the real deal.

NCAA Football: North Carolina vs Georgia

Mitch Trubisky has the ‘Heels back on track after suffering a loss to UGA in Week 1. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Trubisky, a 6-3, 220-pound junior out of Mentor, Ohio, is absolutely eating defenses up in 2016. Why? Because the guy is efficient as all get out. “Turnover” and “Trubisky” don’t even belong in the same sentence together, which is a big reason why this quarterback is averaging 342.2 passing yards in his first year as UNC’s starter.

Trubisky has 17 total touchdowns on the season; 13 passing, four rushing. He is second in the ACC in total touchdowns, trailing only Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson, who is widely considered as the Heisman front-runner. Not to mention, Trubisky has not thrown a single interception in UNC’s first five games of the season. Trubisky’s lone fumble of 2016 was recovered by a Tar Heel teammate in their 37-35 win over FSU on Saturday, a game in which Trubisky threw for 405 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for one touchdown.

This gunslinger has three straight 400-yard passing performances and has completed 76 percent (133/175) of his passes in 2016. Trubisky may not possess the razzle-dazzle of some of the other Heisman hopefuls throughout the country but he is making his case by making timely throws over, and over, and over again.

Trubisky threw for 453 yards and five touchdowns in UNC’s comeback victory over Pittsburgh in Week 4. He has led the Tar Heels to a 4-1 start and a No. 17 ranking in the AP Top 25.

Information from ESPN, USA TODAY and ACC Digital Network were used in this report.

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