ESPN shared a report Friday with our sports-loving society that the 76ers are entertaining offers for Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel.
Gee, can you imagine that?
After removing tongue from cheek, you almost have to wonder if we’re living in some reverse fish bowl here, where the outside masses are oblivious to the obvious. Seriously, like, umm, ya know, who the hell didn’t know the Sixers were doing that, or at least contemplating the idea of doing that?
Not for nothing, but the moment those guys were drafted they were seen as bargaining chips for whatever the unsettled franchise wanted to do for years to come. Neither player was, nor should be, seen as a building block to a team, especially a team that wants to do something other than take runs at single-season records for lameness in NBA annals.
Both are serviceable, useable pieces at the highest level, and that ain’t bad. That makes them commodities, either for the Sixers to use them in their own rotation or to trade them for others deemed a better fit for that rotation.
They are legit pros … with unchangeable limitations that will forever keep them at a level far below transcendent and far above bush league.
Noel will never have much of an offensive game, lacking the physical frame and natural tools to develop one, especially in the post. Unless he plans on spending every waking moment of his existence eight in the weight room or eating steak and pasta the next decade, he’ll be the pogo stick he is right now … and, frankly, if he did become beholden to bulking up he’d loose the electric, jumping-jack, shot-blocking athleticism that gives him any real value right now anyway.
Okafor is the opposite, far less gifted athletically, but skilled offensively, possessing an array of interior moves and, truth be told, a pretty nice mid-range shot. But his immaturity showed on the court and off, and he is a major liability on defense.
They displayed the same pluses and minuses in high school and college. Nothing has changed, and nothing is going to change. They are who they are as players.
Coach ’em up all you want, it ain’t gonna matter.
Wasn’t a fan of the Sixers drafting either of them … at all, never mind No. 6 overall in 2013 (Noel) and No. 3 overall last year (Okafor). Neither represented a game-changer/difference-maker in my mind, mainly because their flaws were so painfully apparent, and certain to be easily exposed at the NBA level.
Both “bigs,” each standing 6-11, neither is really a center and neither is really a power forward. They’re both 4-5 tweeners. Funny thing is, it seems their skills combined would provide a cohesive one-two punch inside, with the one dominating this end of the floor and the other dominating that end … and, yet, when paired together this season, they were a dud. Nothing special, if even beyond borderline mediocre.
However, they are assets as individuals. They do have talent that could blend with certain teams. Look at the conference championships going on right now. You don’t think Noel coming off the bench to energize Golden State’s defense would be viable? Or Okafor getting off his keister to supercharge Cleveland’s offense would be possible?
Indeed, if anything, these two are quality pieces for teams already in the title mix, or close to getting there. Their value is in being specialized, where their exacting skills can be utilized at certain times.
With the Sixers, right now having no set plan in place on what they are or want to be, their value is limited here. The team isn’t ready to fill in gaps because it has crater-sized holes to focus on first.
With massive question marks being viewed as answers to boot.
Yeah, waiting to see what they have in Joel Embiid at center and with the No. 1 pick in next month’s NBA Draft would help determine which guy, Noel or Okafor, holds more value in a trade than he does as a member of the Sixers.
But one of them will have to go at some point regardless.
Presenting, in pure Dave Zinkoff style, YOUR Philadelphia 76ers front line ...
Age: 22 Height/Weight: 6-11, 228 College: Kentucky Drafted: Sixth overall, 2013 (selected by New Orleans and traded to Sixers) Highlights: NBA All-Rookie First Team (2015), First-Team All-SEC (2013), SEC Defensive Player of the Year (2013), SEC Rookie of the Year (2013) NBA stats: 142 games played, 133 games started, .490 field-goal percentage, .600 free-throw percentage, 10.5 points per game, 8.1 rebounds per game, 1.8 assists per game, 1.8 steals per game, 1.7 blocks per game Notable: Missed the entire 2013-14 season while recovering from knee surgery required from an injury sustained in college. He averaged 10.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and 4.4 blocks in his one year at Kentucky. Still clings to belief that the hi-top fade will come back in style.
Age: 20 Height/Weight: 6-11, 275 College: Duke Drafted: Third overall, 2015 Highlights: NBA All-Rookie First Team (2016), Consensus First-Team All-America (2015), Member of NCAA champion (2015), USBWA National Freshman of the Year (2015), ACC Player of the Year (2015) NBA stats: 53 games played, 48 games started, .508 field-goal percentage, .686 free-throw percentage, 17.5 points per game, 7.0 rebounds per game, 1.2 assists per game, .4 steals per game, 1.2 blocks per game Notable: Suffered tear in the meniscus of right knee that sidelined him the final two months of the season. He averaged 17.3 points (on .664 shooting from the floor) and 8.5 rebounds per game in his one year at Duke. Was named National High School Player of the Year by multiple outlets in 2014.