The Liberty Ballers mailbag has returned for another week, on the morning of Kobe's final game in Philadelphia. Frankly, I'll take a Lakers win over one from the Sixers right now.
If you've missed any past installments if the Sixers mailbag, they're all neatly placed right here. Let's get started.
@kblack_sports: What was your take on Kris Dunn and Denzel Valentine Sunday night? Future Sixers?
I've seen bits and pieces of Dunn play before, but Sunday was the first night I actually sat down and watched him play a full game. He finished the game with 21 points (8-19 FG, 2-5 3PT), 7 assists, and 5 rebounds, but I didn't come away from that game completely enthralled by him like others seem to be. On the plus side, he's probably the second best passer in the draft (behind Ben Simmons), and the Sixers desperately need a lead guard who can create for someone else. Dunn is also a super aggressive rebounder, and I love watching him post up and go to work on smaller point guards.
When it comes to negatives, Dunn has a tendency to be really careless with the ball, leading to a lot of unnecessary turnovers. He's cut down on them a little bit during the season, but did end up having four turnovers against Michigan State. My biggest concern with him (like most people) is his jump shot. His range is super limited, and he has never been a consistent three-point shooter. I would prefer for Philadelphia's next lead guard to have a better shooting foundation, and if they can't surround him with knockdown shooters on the wing, I think Dunn would really struggle with the Sixers.
He's also going to be 22-years-old by the time he's drafted, and with any older college players entering the draft, I think it's fair to question how much room for improvement they have left. I think Dunn's an excellent college player, but I have my concerns about him having a similar impact in the NBA. I'll keep a close eye on him as the season goes on.
Denzel Valentine is also 22-years-old, but for the draft range he's being discussed in (mid-to-late first round), he's probably worth the selection. He is a legitimate three point scoring threat, but he does absolutely everything. Valentine can score off screens, facilitate as the ball handler in the pick-and-roll, and get involved on the boards. His numbers weren't that great against Providence (just 5-14 from the field), but he can impact the game in so many ways. As basketball becomes more positionless, and judging by the kind of impact Draymond Green has had, he should be on almost any team's radar. If the Sixers could snag him with the Heat or Thunder pick, I wouldn't be opposed whatsoever.
@soveryverytired: Why can't Okafor set a decent pick? He's 6' 11", 270 lbs.!
So this is a theory, but I think I can sort of explain why he's so awful at pick setting. Growing up, Okafor was probably always the biggest kid on the floor, and simply molded his game around post ups and ISOs so he can use his size to his advantage. The same thing carried over to Duke, where he just tried to use his frame to bully people around the paint, and the pick-and-roll was still a completely non-existent aspect of his game. Basically, I think he's never really needed to emerge from the paint to set picks his entire basketball playing career, and it's clear nobody has ever made that an important skill for him to learn. It might also partially explain why he's so awful at defending the pick-and-roll as well.
I think as he gets more reps, he'll get more proficient at setting picks. It seems clear that most of this is still new to him.
@McFAR4TheCourse: Someone on the 87ers must be more worthwhile to have on the Sixers roster than JaKarr, no?
I think the Sixers have far worse players on their roster currently than JaKarr Sampson. He's shooting 51.3% from the field this year, and I really like how he played against the Houston Rockets and Memphis Grizzlies. JaKarr isn't a great jump shooter, and at this point I don't think he ever will be. But most of his shots come in the paint anyway, and from there he's shooting 61%. I still think he's a solid defender, and he spent most of the Rockets game frustrating James Harden. I don't know what the future holds for him, but I think he still deserves to be on this team.
However, I think the 87ers have some talent worth calling up. Former summer Sixer Sean Kilpatrick is back in Delaware, and it's not an understatement to say he's absolutely lighting it up. He's averaging 29.2 points per game (second best in the D-League), and shooting 48.8% from beyond the arc on nearly nine attempts per game. That's wild. Kilpatrick earned a ten-day contract with the Timberwolves last season, and played alright in limited action. He does have a sweet looking shooting stroke, and the Sixers desperately need someone other than Robert Covington who can knock down an occasional three. Provided he's still playing well come January, I hope the Sixers bring Kilpatrick in when ten-day contracts are allowed.
@1776Sixers: How much happier would you be right now if we drafted Porzingis instead of Okafor?
I would probably be much happier now, but I can't act like I was all that excited about him at draft time. In our final big board before the draft, I ranked Okafor third, and Porzingis seventh. Never did I think that Porzingis could make this much of an impact at this point in his career. His physicality and rebounding are two aspects of his game that he never really showcased over in Spain, and they're now part of his strengths. In nearly 22 minutes a game in Spain last season, Porzingis averaged nearly five rebounds a game. He's now averaging nearly double that number in the top league in the world in only six more minutes per game. Improvement like that is incalculable.
Having Porzingis instead of Okafor certainly would help fix all of the fit problems Philadelphia is having, but I still think Jahlil can be a really good basketball player. The key is going to be finding spots where he can make the most impact, and the Sixers are still feeling that out.
@KorverAintMe: Pick one player in the NBA that you think could make the biggest impact on the Sixers and turn them around?
Assuming we're talking outside the realm of guys like Steph Curry and LeBron James, I would have to take Paul George. He's been absolutely phenomenal this year in just about every possible statistic, and he's shown no signs of slowing down from that gruesome leg injury two summers ago. Philadelphia still needs to find their go to scorer who can take over games, and George fits that bill very well. He's also a very easy piece to fit around. You can put him at the two guard with Robert Covington at small forward, and Philadelphia would have two really solid two-way players. They could play him at power forward next to Nerlens Noel, and Noel probably morphs back into the player he was last season.
I think he's by far the most ideal player Philadelphia could possibly add, and while it probably will never happen, I'll continue to hold out hope that it does.
Thanks for reading. As always, you can send me your questions on Twitter @JakePavorsky, or email me at email@example.com.