Philadelphia sports have experienced some trouble over the last couple of years, but certain players continue to dominate. While there is a large number of players who continue to perform highly, some stand out from the crowd. If Philadelphia hopes to bring another championship title to the city these players will need to step up even more. These players from Philadelphia’s teams, the Philadelphia Eagles, Phillies, 76ers, and Flyers, provide the best chance to do so. Some of these names are obvious while others have over-performed to be among the more well-known players.
Sanders is quickly becoming one of the Eagles’ top playmakers, but he does not get enough opportunities to prove that he is one of the best just yet. Gregorius led the Phillies last year in battings average, RBIs and hits and he gets to do it again and more after being resigned. The 21-year-old Farabee has proven that he can compete in the NHL at so young and he hopes to improve upon his already 22 points this season. Curry is proving to be a great pickup for the 76ers as he continues to dominate with a 43.5% three-point percentage.
10. Claude Giroux
Any top Philadelphia players list that does not include Giroux only displays disrespect to the long-time Flyer. “The Captain”, as he called by Philadelphia fans, does not lead the team in many areas, but his overall consistency is what makes him so special. Giroux is the clutch guy that Philadelphia can almost always count on when they find themselves in sticky situations. He is the best faceoff player on the team and one of the best in the league and there is no question that he is well-respected throughout the NHL. Giroux is one of the greatest players in Philadelphia Flyers history and he continues to play at such a high-level today. He has shown little to no signs of slowing down or regression, solidifying his spot in Philadelphia fame.
Graham is easily one of the most underrated players in the NFL, but that has only influenced him to play harder every year. He led the team in sacks with eight and that helped to propel himself to his Pro Bowl of his career. He almost finished the 2020 season leading the team in tackles for loss with 15, which is four more than anyone else in the defense. The Eagles’ defensive line has been one of the stronger areas of the team after recent struggles, Graham is a large part of that. Alongside Fletcher Cox, Graham has proven that although he is getting older, 32-years-old, he can still dominate every week. His strip-sack in Super Bowl LII to cement Philadelphia’s victory has made Graham a Philadelphia legend forever. Now, after years have passed, Graham continues to produce and show that he’s still as reliable and dominant as before.
The Flyers are looking to improve upon their underwhelming play lately, and van Riemsdyk is a massive part of them continuing to be a contender. Van Riemsdyk has shown up this season and continues to as he leads the teams in points with 27 overall. His 11 goals and 16 assists have helped the Flyers to remain in contention to make a Stanley Cup run despite some bumps in the road, so far. Philadelphia’s star left wing is in his ninth year and is clearly still playing like a top player in the league. There are still many games yet to play, but if Philadelphia definitely earns a playoff spot, van Riemsdyk will be a huge reason for it. The young players on the team are integral to their success, but the older guys like van Riemsdyk and Giroux are the backbone of the team. When those guys play well, especially van Riemsdyk, the whole team plays well and makes them difficult to stop.
The Phillies were able to resign Realmuto after numerous doubts that they’d be able to, but it miraculously happened. Realmuto, who Philadelphia has named “BCIB”, the best catcher in baseball, can only be beneficial for the team. His ability to thoroughly succeed in all parts of the game makes him a threat to be reckoned with in every matchup. Despite Realmuto’s injury last season, he was still able to finish among the top of the team in the major statistics. He finished the season with two fewer home runs than Bryce Harper in the shortened 2020 season. His batting performances are impressive, but his defensive play behind the plate sets him apart from the rest. His ability to limit passed balls was displayed last year allowing only one passed ball to occur. Throwing out runners seems effortless for Realmuto, his defensive play is what makes him so valuable to Philadelphia.
In the past couple of seasons, Harris had been somewhat underperforming, but he has turned that around this season. Harris is currently some of the best basketball of his career and he’s proving that he is worth his large contract. He is currently second on the team in average points, but his ability to come up in clutch situations has heightened his game this season. Over the first half of the season, he was playing at an All-Star caliber, but he was one of the many players to get snubbed. Despite his absence from an All-Star roster, Harris has been an integral part of the 76ers maintaining first place in the East. Turnovers have been a constant issue for Harris and Philadelphia overall in the past, but there has been a major improvement. His defensive game has improved as well, so if he can maintain what he is doing, an NBA Finals trip is very possible.
5. Ben Simmons
Simmons continues to be a constant threat for opposing teams on both sides of the ball at all times of the game. On the offensive side, Simmons has continued to try to improve his game, primarily in his shooting ability. Although it has been somewhat of a small improvement, it is obvious that he has been more willing to shoot than before. Simmons’ ability to drive to the basket is still a major strength, as well as racking up assists when infiltrating a defense. On the other hand, Simmons has heightened his defense immensely; he was always strong defensively, but he has thoroughly improved. His ability to stay in front of players he defending has made him a pest for opposing teams. Simmons has gone up against the top players in the league and has completely shut them down. He is always up to the challenge and that helps to provides more opportunities for everyone else on the team.
4. Jason Kelce
The long-time Eagles center is undoubtedly one of the most highly respected players in Philadelphia sports history. Kelce is the foundation of the Eagles offense and he has been for a while now. Although the Eagles offense has struggled lately, Kelce could almost always be trusted to get the job done. The 2020 season was not very kind to the Eagles and the offensive line in particular. Although there were constant struggles, Kelce remained healthy enough to be the only consistent offensive lineman to play over the season. Even when he suffered an injury to his elbow later in the season, Kelce stayed in the game. Kelce is one of the most athletic linemen in the league. Being able to pull from the center position and get out in front of the running back to protect is no easy task, but he makes it look simple. Kelce will get one more year with Philadelphia, once he is gone there will be some big shoes to fill.
3. Bryce Harper
Harper is easily the most influential and most important player on the Phillies, and his impact has already been felt. The big-time right fielder has given Philadelphia a taste of what he is capable of, but this just the beginning for him. Although his home run count with the Phillies so far has not been as astronomical as most imagined, he is still getting it done. Harper currently has 48 home runs in his two seasons in Philadelphia, counting the shortened 2020 season. Harper has given the Phillies lineup a boost in morale and confidence, it feels like they will always have a chance to win with him. Harper’s defensive ability is just as impressive, he can run down fly balls and his arm is threatening for runners trying to sneak extra bases. There is no denying that Philadelphia’s future is bright with Harper on the Phillies.
2. Fletcher Cox
The big dominant interior defensive lineman provides a constant impact on the Philadelphia defense. Cox earned his sixth-consecutive Pro Bowl in 2020, which one short of Reggie White‘s Eagles record. There is no question that Cox is still one of the most game-changing and respected players in the NFL. As a large defensive tackle, Cox is often eating up double teams and occupying the middle of the line, constantly making the offensive line’s job difficult. As a result of this, his numbers are not as ground-breaking as they used to be, but that hasn’t stopped him. The importance of his presence became evident in week 16 against the Dallas Cowboys. Philadelphia led Dallas 14-3 in the second quarter, but once Cox was reported injured, the defense seemed to completely fall apart and surrender 34 points. Even though Cox will not be the one making every play, it’s obvious that his presence on the field completely changes the defense.
1. Joel Embiid
When it comes to naming the best player in Philadelphia right now, the answer is as easy as asking if the sky is blue. Joel Embiid has become the most exciting, beloved, reliable, and show-stopping player in Philadelphia sports. The current NBA MVP favorite leads the team, and is near the top of the NBA, in multiple statistics as a center. Embiid is a constant playmaker every single second that he is on the court. He has a higher three-point percentage than Steph Curry, a higher field goal percentage and points per game than LeBron James, and more rebounds and blocks per game than Nikola Jokic. Embiid’s contributions on offense and defense are unmatched and he showing that he has the capability of being the best player in the world. The NBA All-Star and MVP favorite has taken his team to first place in the East, it is obvious that getting the Philadelphia 76ers a Finals Championship is his priority.
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