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MUSCLEWATCH 2016: Where we're seeking a new clubhouse leader ...

An injury to Philadelphia 76ers rookie Ben Simmons creates a unique NBA void

Lang Whitaker

MUSCLEWATCH is back, and we are officially in the midst of the MUSCLE madness. After just a few days of training camp, we already face an unprecedented dilemma: Our early MUSCLEWATCH leader has been sidelined with an injury, which means we may have to find a new champion.

But before we get to the MUSCLES, what, you may ask, is MUSCLEWATCH?

It began decades ago when my friend, Matt, and I noticed our local newspaper would always report that various NBA players had gained 15 pounds of MUSCLE in the off-season. It was never 12 pounds, never 16, never nine, never 18, but it always seemed to be “15 pounds of MUSCLE.” So we began keeping an eye on the news looking for references to the magic “15 pounds of MUSCLE.” Over the years, MUSCLEWATCH became about more than just the “15 pounds of muscle” and more about guys who showed up for training camp having either gained or lost a bunch of weight.

Now, let’s do some heavy work …

• As we did one week ago in our first MUSCLEWATCH post, let’s begin in Philadelphia, where first overall draft pick Ben Simmons arrived at training camp having added what he said was 33 pounds, presumably of muscle, since being drafted. Some of his peers were dubious…

And just days after our Media Day version of MUSCLEWATCH dropped, the 76ers announced Simmons had fractured his foot, requiring surgery and putting him on the injured reserve for the foreseeable future.

Now, to confront the question everyone is asking: Does this injury disqualify Simmons from a MUSCLEWATCH title?

And my answer is this: Yes. Because while Simmons did show an ability to gain a lot of MUSCLE in a short timeframe, right now he is not an active NBA player. So while we wish him all the best in his recovery, we must look elsewhere to find a MUSCLEWATCH champion.

• In Minnesota, reigning Rookie of the Year Karl-Anthony Towns took to Twitter to flex a little…

Meanwhile, KAT’s teammate Nemanja Bjelica has lost some weight heading into his second NBA season. According to Bjelica, he dropped 22 pounds by cutting out “junky” foods, and through workouts with Towns, Bjelica is in the best shape of his life…

“I just lost my fat,” he said, “because in Europe, it is much easier to play because you have one or two games per week. But here, you need to get ready for the NBA season, for 82 regular-season games.”

He can feel the difference on the court, running more comfortably up and down the floor.

“I’ve been in the gym with him a lot,” Wolves forward Karl-Anthony Towns said. “We’ve run together, we’ve gotten in shape together. Belly’s in the best condition that he’s ever been in, and I’m proud to say that. It’s just going to be a great year for Nemanja.”

• A MUSCLEWATCH reader passed along this image of an armless Jason Terry in NBA2K17…

https://twitter.com/devh87/status/781330937145659392

I know this is just digital and not reality, but according to the Google, your arm is about 6.5 percent of your total body weight. For the 181-pound Jason Terry, one arm would weigh approximately 11.765 pounds. If he were missing two arms, he would lose about 23.5 pounds, which is a significant figure, but not enough to win a MUSCLEWATCH title. Also, if he were missing two arms, he would probably not be as effective on the court.

• Two MUSCLEWATCH developments in Dallas, where Justin Anderson dropped 10 pounds, while Dwight Powell added the vaunted “15 pounds of muscle!”

• Kyrie Irving believes Iman Shumpert deserves MUSCLEWATCH consideration for losing 5 pounds.

• MUSCLEWATCH goes global! Here’s Guerschon Yabusele, draft pick of the Boston Celtics currently playing for the Shanghai Sharks…

• This doesn’t really have anything to do with MUSCLEWATCH, but someone tweeted it with the MUSCLEWATCH hashtag, so I feel like we can include it. Here’s a video of Draymond Green talking about being prepared for the season, only someone ran it through what appears to be Snapchat’s rabbit filter…

• We will return next week a final update, crowning a MUSCLEWATCH champion. In the meantime, tweet at me using hashtag #MUSCLEWATCH if you catch any MUSCLEWATCH news floating around out there…

Lang Whitaker has covered the NBA since 1998. You can e-mail him here or follow him on Twitter.

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