Welcome back to the mailbag. This week's questions include trade value for the whole roster, if missing out on Porzingis has really hurt the rebuild, the future expectations for Ish Smith and Joel Embiid and more. You can catch up on previous mailbags here.
@NFLCapAnalytics: What is your perception of the trade value of each of the 15 players on the roster (plus Saric) measured in terms of a single unprotected 2016 draft pick? Assume the hypothetical receiving team has cap room to absorb the contract. Contract status and health should obviously be factored in, but please ignore the specific draft order of the teams and the strength/weakness of the 2016 draft class so as to keep this more abstract.
Specific! I'll list the players from highest value to lowest value below.
Jahlil Okafor - Top five pick. His value should be just about the same as it was coming into last year's draft. Okafor has stayed pretty true to his college scouting report; a phenomenal offensive talent who struggles defensively and can't protect the rim. But he just turned 20, he's healthy, and he's under team control for the following three seasons. That makes him the most valuable player (trade wise) on the roster.
Nerlens Noel - Top 10 pick. Noel has been on a tear since the return of Ish Smith, leading me to believe his end of season run last year was not a fluke. He's obviously limited in what he can do offensively -- although he makes up for it with his defensive prowess -- and I think that hurts his value a little bit. Seeing as how he'll be up for an extension soon, I don't think a ton of general managers would feel comfortable trading a high pick and then throwing big money at a big man whose only offensive value is on lobs and putbacks. He's a tremendous player, but other teams probably don't view him as highly due to his limited offensive potential and soon to be high cap number.
Dario Saric - Top 15 pick. Seeing as how he's about to sign a rookie wage scale deal this summer after playing several years at a high level overseas, there's a decent case to be made for him being worth a top 10 pick. But I think the NBA is still a tad bit xenophobic, and most general managers are probably concerned about his skill set translating more so then a handful of top college players. He was the twelfth overall pick two years ago, and I don't think his value has really moved in either direction since then. If for some reason he does decide to stay overseas next year, his value will tank a little.
Joel Embiid - Top 25 pick. By far the biggest risk/reward player the Sixers have. He's certainly a transcendent talent, but the injury concerns will follow him for the rest of his career. Nobody's investing a high-lottery pick in a 300 lbs. big man who has undergone two major surgeries on an injury that has cost similar players their career. He's also up for an extension in just two seasons. Embiid is certainly worth a first-round pick, but teams are going to want to mitigate the risk of making a move for him, which is why he's not worth a ton on the trade market.
Ish Smith, Richaun Holmes - Picks 30-35. Philadelphia already established his value by trading two high second-round picks for Smith when they re-acquired him from the New Orleans Pelicans. He's more valuable in Philadelphia than anywhere else, but between his time in New Orleans and his two stints with the Sixers, I think he's proved he belongs in the NBA. However, Smith will be in line for a decent size raise this summer, and I doubt there would be many teams who would want to give up a first-round pick for a 27-year-old likely to make top-5 pick money a year. Holmes's playing time has been limited, but he seems to have a role in this league. His value should be right around where he was drafted.
Nik Stauskas, Robert Covington, Jerami Grant, Carl Landry - Picks 35-45. Stauskas and Covington have both been major disappointments, although Stauskas does have the first-round pedigree. Tough to get any team to give you any real value for either at this point. Grant has a lot of potential on defense, but I question how he fits into a team not named the Sixers. Landry probably has some value to a playoff team that needs front court depth, but he's under contract at $6.5 million next year. He's not that helpful.
Isaiah Canaan, T.J. McConnell, Hollis Thompson, Kendall Marshall, JaKarr Sampson - Picks 45-60. All five of these guys have very limited usefulness on any other team based off their current play. Hard to imagine any of them being worth more than a very late second-round pick.
@jamesregan1: Was taking Okafor over Porzingis a fatal blow to the process, Hinkie, and our dreams?
Definitely not fatal, but it was a miscalculation. There probably wasn't a general manager in the league that knew more about Kristaps Porzingis than Sam Hinkie did, and it's fair to be somewhat weary of his scouting abilities based off his decision to take Jahlil Okafor instead. With that said, I think ownership is still in his in terms of his evaluation of talent, and the addition of Colangelo is because of Hinkie's struggles in other areas.
But to be fair to Hinkie, Porzingis was expected to be a longterm project, and some of his weaknesses in Spain (rebounding, toughness) have now become some of his biggest strengths. Progression like that over the course of a single summer is hard to predict, and most likely an anomaly.
Not taking Porzingis doesn't doom the team or the process. Jahlil Okafor is still an extremely valuable player, and you can get a pretty large return for him provided he's the one you opt to move on from. Philadelphia also has picks out the wazoo for the next several years (thanks to Hinkie), which has given them the luxury of being able to fail on a high pick in the past. With that said, it's vital that Hinkie is able to hit on their slew of upcoming high lottery picks. The masses are getting antsy, and he no longer has the luxury of just accumulating players. From now on, he's going to have to find guys that fit around their current core and fill other areas of need.
Leaving Porzingis on the board is a mistake the team can overcome. They just have to get it right from here on out.
@TheRealmmico: What do we do if we get the third pick and both Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram are gone?
Croatian forward Dragan Bender would be the most talented guy on the board, but he doesn't have an NBA opt-out in his contract until 2019. That's a hard sell for a Jerry Colangelo run team that's beginning to preach a quick turnaround. I think the best thing the team could do in this hypothetical situation would be to trade down, and pick up a high 2017 draft pick.
I know we're technically kicking the can down the road here, but there's just no prospect outside of Simmons, Ingram and Bender that I think is a can't miss guy. Kris Dunn is going to be a top-five pick and technically fills an area of need, but in my eyes, not much separates him from Demetrius Jackson, Melo Trimble and Wade Baldwin IV, all who could be had later in the lottery. Jaylen Brown and Jamal Murray could provide some wing scoring, but they're not worlds better than Furkan Korkmaz or Denzel Valentine.
Ben Simmons, Brandon Ingram and Dragan Bender are big time talents. Nobody else in the draft is on or near that level. Trade down, grab another pick in a stacked 2017 draft, and you'll still find guys in the same realm as Kris Dunn, Jaylen Brown, etc.
@rimmy_Da_ginger: What do you see as Ish Smith's going into the future?
He's your starting point guard through at least the rest of this season, and eventually becomes the backup point guard, provided the team re-signs him. It's no secret that his addition to the team has been a revelation, but it's unlikely he's the longterm solution to your lead guard dilemma. His perimeter shooting has been really helpful to a stagnant Sixers offense, but it's not an aspect of his game he's ever flaunted before. Smith is shooting 33.3% for his career on shots taken between 10-16 feet. In nine games with the Sixers, he's shooting 42.1% from the same area. He's more than likely going to come back down to earth.
Better solutions are inevitably going to pop up at the position, but there are worse options as a backup point guard. He's an exceptional passer, and that's going to be crucial for a second unit that will initially lack shot creators. If Embiid is healthy enough to eventually handle starters minutes, you could see a Smith-Noel combination off the bench. That could cause some real problems.
@EthanPHirsch: Is it possible to have reasonable expectations for Embiid at this point? Seems like either day one 2017 starter or bust.
Getting him to start in 2017 is probably the goal, but I don't think you should expect anything from Embiid yet. The 2016-17 season is going to be all about getting him into basketball shape, and seeing how his body holds up over the course of an 82-game schedule.
But at this point, I would just be happy for him to be able to contribute in any fashion. The road to recovery has been long and arduous for Embiid, and at this point I imagine he'd like to just be able to get on the floor.
The biggest issue with him will be pain. If he's capable of playing a majority of the year without any discomfort, I think that paves the way for Embiid to be your starting center in 2017. If there are some complications, Philadelphia might have to find a delicate balance of being able to evaluate his play without jeopardizing his health. We'll have a clearer picture about his career trajectory after next season.
Thanks for reading. As always, you can send me your questions on Twitter @JakePavorsky, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org