The 0-11 76ers will eventually win a game. The Suns travel to Philadelphia in an attempt not to be "that team".

The Good Guys: The Phoenix Suns, 7-5 and playing their fourth game of a six-game road trip

The Bad Guys: The Philadelphia 76ers, 0-11 and waiting for Dario Saric to walk through that door

The Time: 5PM Arizona time, 7PM local time

The Place: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia PA

The Tube: Fox Sports-AZ

The Phoenix Suns are yet to be defeated on their Eastern road swing after inching out the Pistons in an 88-86 win that was about as exhilarating as a trip to the DMV. Their tour of Leastern patsies continues tonight with Max Bialystock's favorite team, the controversial Philadelphia 76ers.

To the surprise of few, the Sixers have yet to notch a win in their 2014/15 campaign and stand at 0-11, further fueling the mind-numbingly boorish "tanking" debate that actually nearly led to a reform of the NBA draft lottery. All hand-wringing aside, the Sixers are going about rebuilding in the way that they believe will yield the best returns in the future, and in the present there are still some basketball things happening that are worth watching, even if they're so bad that Papa John's had to adjust their tie-in discount from "50% off a pie if the Sixers win!" to "erm, ok ... 50% off a pie if the Sixers score 90, win or lose!"

Not 100 points, but 90. Sounds like the saddest pizza ever, and it is very difficult to make a pizza sad.

The Suns will obviously be looking to avoid the dubious distinction of handing the Sixers their first victory, and they'll do well to remind themselves that Hinkie's boys are still an NBA team, according to the requisite definition. For a team that needed every ball to bounce their way just to edge out the Pistons, there are no foregone conclusions. They head to Indianapolis tomorrow to take on the Pacers, so obviously picking up the first win of a back-to-back would be fortuitous.

Reasons To Watch

  • Noel vs. Len! Covered nicely by our overlord Dave King here.
  • The reigning Rookie of the Year, Michael Carter-Williams, is back in the fold after missing the first seven games, and thus far has nearly as many FGA (58) as points (59). Could this be his breakout game?
  • Speaking of MCW, there are no Sixers players under 6'6 in height. We've seen the Suns' backcourt struggle with big guards in the past, right? Should we be worried? Of course not. (but maybe a little?)
  • The Sixers have some things on their roster called JaKarr Sampsons, Hollis Thompsons, and Drew Gordons. I don't know what these things are, but I'm intrigued.
  • Per BasketballReference, the Sixers are currently 20th in defense, 30th in offense, but second in pace. So unlike Wednesday, we might actually see basketball being played tonight!
  • The Morris twins are from Philly, which is neat.
  • Rookie second-rounder K.J. McDaniels has demanded your attention, both with his ridiculous blocks and his mom taking her frustrations with the Hinkie Plan to the Twitterverse.

All that, plus the former "man of few words" just had to go and throw a log on the fire...

Kentucky-Gate

Remember that version of Eric Bledsoe during the summer that hardly said a word and drove us all crazy by going full J.D. Salinger and stowing himself away in Birmingham while in a contract stalemate with the Suns? Yeah, be careful what you wish for.

Bled went on Sirius XM NBA Radio and when asked how the Kentucky Wildcats would fare against the Sixers, he couldn't hold back his pride for his alma mater. "I'll definitely take Kentucky. I think Philly would probably get maybe one game."

Face, meet palm.

Sixers' guard Tony Wroten (whom Bledsoe will be matched up against at some point tonight) responded"Nah, they can’t beat us. He’s crazy. Yeah, it’s insulting. He might be serious, but I know Bledsoe. I’m not going to take it personally."

Perhaps Bled wasn't aware of the schedule, or that his comments were being broadcast across the nation, but the Sixers are composed of men who play professional basketball, and men who play professional basketball are usually men of pride, and a team of prideful men that currently have lost 11 straight games surely don't need any additional motivation to notch their first win at home against a traveling team from out West that is currently (by Western standards) only average.

It's nice to see that you've found a public personality, Eric. Next up on the lesson plan: tact.

tact (plural tacts)

  1. The sense of touch; feeling.  [quotations ?]
  2. (music) The stroke in beating time.
  3. Sensitive mental touch; peculiar skill or faculty; nice perception or discernment; ready power of appreciating and doing what is required by circumstances.  [quotations ?]
  4. The ability to deal with embarrassing situations carefully and without doing or saying anything that will annoy or upset other people; careful consideration in dealing with others to avoid giving offense; the ability to say the right thing.
    By the use of tact, she was able to calm her jealous husband.
    I used tact when I told my fat uncle that his extra weight made him look better.

Moving on.

The Stats

The Suns are currently a middling 17th in DRtg and 19th in ORtg. They are also fourth in pace, while the Sixers (as mentioned above) are second. If there was an opponent to get some mojo working against, surely it would be Philadelphia.

The Sixers are dead last in FG% (.402), points per game (88.6), 26th in 3PT% (.308), and 28th in TOV% (.168).

I could go on, but I'll stop there.

Probable Starters

Suns Sixers
G - Eric Bledsoe G - Michael Carter-Williams
G - Goran Dragic G - Hollis Thompson
F - Marcus Morris F - Luc Mbah A Moute
F - Markieff Morris F - Nerlens Noel
C - Miles Plumlee C - Henry Sims

Injuries

For Philly, rookies Joel Embiid and Jerami Grant are out indefinitely, as is former Sun Jason Richardson. Suns have a clean bill of health.

Last Meeting

Suns won 124-113 in Philly, completing the two-game season sweep. Gerald Green scored an absurd 30 points on just 12 FGA (TWELVE!!!).

Prediction

Please win.

Markieff Morris says a Pistons player has "no heart". Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy says Morris should stop mouthing off. Caldwell-Pope says it is what it is.

At some point, the bravado of the Morris twins was going to make national headlines. They are quiet, but extremely confident in themselves as strong individuals and with tough character.

Last year, Markieff Morris garnered a handful of technical fouls backing up his teammates. He would get into the face of an opponent after a hard foul or tough words, and we all know that the refs see the end of a fight rather than the beginning.

This year, he's starting to make headlines and not in a good way.

goodwill-morris

Really, doesn't have any heart? Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had just sunk two big threes to help bring the Pistons back into the game in the final minutes. How can you say he can't make the big shot?

goodwill-morris-2 goodwill-morris-3

Ahh, here we go. Morris and KCP exchanged words earlier in the game. No one but those guys know what was said, but apparently Morris decided that KCP's involvement was less than stellar.

goodwill-morris-4

Of course a coach is going to defend his own player. Good on you, Stan.

goodwill-morris-5

This was a necessary statement by KCP not to instigate any more fires now that the scuffle is over.

Frankly, I don't like this kind of comment by Morris but in the heat of the moment - celebrating a last second win that was sealed by the failure of a guy you'd just had an altercation with - words like that come out of mouths.

Another kerfuffle this week centered around Kevin Durant having called Dwight Howard the slang word for cat. Not sure why Howard is being equated to a cat, especially when his personality aligns more with a canine than a feline if you're going to equate him to a domesticated pet.

Wait... what? Durant wasn't calling Howard a domesticated feline?

Anyway, back to Keef.

He's playing against the Sixers tonight, in his hometown. He's going to have to step up big in this game, not only to show he isn't bothered by getting the negative national attention this week but also because he wants to show his home crowd that he's a very good NBA player.

Do it, Keef.

Luuuuuuuuuuuuuc.

Shawn Marion Game Worn Shorts

Two weeks ago we featured a pair of Mark West game used short shorts for sale. That lead one Bright Sider to quip "Don't think I'd care to own something that once housed Mark West's fruit basket. Or any other players' for that matter." Guess he won't be bidding on this game used gear from The Matrix. Seller doesn't say anything about a COA. Buy it now is $115, offers can be submitted, and shipping will run you another $10.55.

Phoenix Suns Team Celebration Christmas Ornament

We've featured many Christmas ornaments on Suns Swag, but this one has to be pointed out. All players represented are wearing the number "00." That's asinine! Do you think Adam Silver would allow that to happen, even for a game? NO WAY. You can scoop this up for about $15. Happy Holidays!

Phoenix Suns Santa Claus Figurine

This is for after you've got your tree completely decked out in purple and orange. Santa looks to be delivering a basketball to some snot nosed brat snoozing away. It's a useless gift, you can tell the kid's got no game. Might look good on your mantle though. 35 bucks after shipping.

Goran Dragic Light Switch Cover

Definitely a weird item, but could be the perfect addition to tie your man cave together. If you look closely, you can also see Dwayne Wade getting schooled by The Dragon. You can pick this up for a 10 dollar bill.

1996-97 Phoenix Suns 50th Anniversary Warm Up Jacket

From the seller: "I was told when I acquired this,that it may have been worn by the Suns mascot that season, but I have no way of knowing that for sure." With no COA, you can go ahead and assume this wasn't worn by a player or mascot at any time. Still, it's a cool item. It's got 1 bid at $69.99 and shipping is $6.

Game Used Luc Longley Jersey

Be advised, no COA mentioned in the description. Longley spent 10 years in the NBA, most famously with Bulls for the last three of Chicago's six championships in the 90's. In January of 1999 he was traded to Phoenix where he played in 111 games across the next season and a half. In that trade Phoenix sent Mark Bryant, Bubba Wells, Martin Muursepp and a first round pick to Chicago. That pick became Ron Artest. Bidding is current at $18.50, shipping is $7.

Suns Leather Starter Jacket

HOLY MACKEREL. I love that this is a thing. Buy it, wear it, don't take lip off of anyone. It's $100 but the respect you will command from your peers holds no dollar amount. Bidding is taking place now. You have three days.

Alex Len Signed Basketball

Including the inscription "Fear the Turtle." You've been watching this guy play right? He's the future. Before you know it this basketball will be worth $60. You can buy it now for $50, or make on offer. Pick it up for $40, then send me a thank you note at the end of the season.

2006 Phoenix Suns Work Shirt

This is a weird item. Seller states: "These shirts were sold in a very limited run, available only at the stadium shop in the ~ mid 2000's. There were a series of them, done with different player's numbers. Less than a 100 of each were made." This is a size large. If you're a collector of odd Suns stuff or a diehard fan of Stoudemire, you can buy this now and ship it for $56. Make an offer and pick it up for half.

Kevin Johnson High School Bobblehead

Kevin-Johnson-High-School-Bobblehead-Limited-Edition-Phoenix-Suns

Bobbleheads don't get much rarer than this. Johnson's senior year at Sacramento High School he led the state of California in scoring at better than 32 points per game and was named Northern California Player of the Year. You can grab this for $57 dollars after shipping or make an offer.

A tussle between Markieff Morris and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope earned them double technicals in the Suns’ 88-86 win over the Pistons on Wednesday, but that wasn’t the end of their beef. It...

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The Phoenix Suns and Alex Len take on the Philadelphia Sixers and Nerlens Noel on Friday night in a highly anticipated matchup of two forever-linked big men from the 2013 NBA Draft.

The Phoenix Suns stunned many analysts when, with the 5th pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, they took injured center Alex Len over injured center/forward Nerlens Noel and outside shooter Ben McLemore.

Noel had been the consensus #1 or #2 overall mock-picked until the final weeks before the draft when Noel, and Ben McLemore as well, began dropping down teams' big boards due to concerns over health and dedication, respectively.

Meanwhile, injured Maryland center Alex Len - who had not even made his all-conference team in either his freshman or sophomore season - rose up the boards steadily. By the eve of the draft, the most widely respected NBA draft site (draftexpress.com) had Len going #1 overall to Cleveland.

But all three players were passed over in the first four picks in favor of Anthony Bennett, Victor Oladipo, Otto Porter and Cody Zeller.

When the Suns came up on the board for the 5th overall pick, they still had their choice of the consensus two most talented players - Noel and McLemore - and the late riser whose measurables were perfect but his production was iffy. And, he was injured.

The Suns took Len.

"If Len's not on the board then you look at those guys," General Manager Ryan McDonough said of picking Len over Noel and McLemore. "But he's a guy that can be a game-changer down the road and it's a situation where when we all looked at the guys and ranked them he was the consensus by all of our guys that he's got the biggest upside, at that size, and his skill level. And so I think you take the best player available at that time. Is it the best for tomorrow? Maybe even still then he's the best for tomorrow. We just think that as we go through this rebuilding process with our guys, some of the guys we have on the team, he helps us get there maybe a little quicker."

The Suns trainers and doctors felt that Len had a healthier future ahead of him in the NBA than did Noel. They didn't like his knee injury, and the lack of thickness in the lower body left teams to wonder if Noel would ever be able to handle the NBA pounding.

But it wasn't just health that had the Suns taking Len over Noel.

"I think all around skill," said coach Hornacek of taking Len over Noel. "Is he as good of a shot-blocker as Noel? Maybe not, but he is still long and he can block shots. Then he had the offensive game. When you can get a guy - again, I'll keep going back to this - you get a guy that's 7-1 that can do things defensively and block shots, take up space, with the wingspan and he's got a good offensive game; you can use him to pass, you can use him to score; that's something you don't see very often at both sides of the game. That's what we felt was really exciting about the guy: he's not just one-dimensional."

Eighteen months later, both players are healthy and playing important minutes at center for their teams.

Nerlens Noel is getting 28 minutes per night for the 0-11 Sixers as they continue their mockery of the NBA competitive spirit in the hopes that one day they can completely turn around the franchise. Noel has started 6 of 9 games he's appeared in. He missed two for various nicks that were not serious.

Alex Len has played in all 12 Suns games, but has not started. He's getting 22 minutes per game and showing that all-around skill that the Suns drafted 18 months ago.

See where Len and Noel rank this young season, in order of Win Shares, among first and second year big men (guys 6'10" or taller who play forward or center exclusively).

Len-Noel-WS-ranking

Len has had the most positive impact, in terms of Win Shares, on his team in this young season. Sure, the season is only 12 games old (10 or 11 for some other guys), so the list will change but it's a huge relief for the Suns and their fans that Len is making such a difference on a winning team.

In terms of minutes, points, rebounds and blocks, Len drops into 6th or 7th place, but that's a function of minutes. The other guys at the top of the list are getting more burn.

These two players will forever be linked, for Suns fans. Who ends up with the best career will be an ultimate indictment on the GM Ryan McDonough.

So far, McD's decision looks to be a good one.

Watch the Suns take on the Sixers on Friday night in Philadelphia. The only other time these two faced off, Alex Len got the better of Noel when they were 19 and 18 years old, respectively. Len was entering his sophomore season at Maryland while Noel was in his first college games as a freshman at Kentucky.

Interested in playing Daily Fantasy Basketball with the chance to win money? Sign up for FanDuel here! You can put Noel against Len yourself and potentially take home some money!

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