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Liberty Ballers Community Ranking: Zhaire Smith

Cast your vote for #12!

NBA: Summer League-Boston Celtics at Philadelphia 76ers Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Liberty Ballers is asking for the community’s help in ranking the Sixers’ full roster (12 active players, 3 inactive players, 2 two-way players) according to on-court value for the upcoming season. When casting a vote, you should concern yourself only with each player’s ability to contribute to winning this season. So, for example, maybe you believe Markelle Fultz will be a valuable member of the Sixers core over the next 5 seasons, but you also think he’ll be slight negative on the court for most of this season. Meanwhile, you expect Robert Covington to be an integral part of the starting lineup in 2018-2019, but in 3 or 4 years, you expect him to bottom out. From that perspective, Markelle would be the more player over the long haul, but you should place Covington above him in this ranking, due to Covington’s projected positive contributions this year. You can find the original post here, which includes the Sixers’ projected final roster.

We asked for your help in ranking the 13th most valuable player on the Sixers this season, and it seems the community was very split. There were a total of 366 votes in yesterday’s poll, and 280 of those votes went to just two players: Furkan Korkmaz and Zhaire Smith. With a slightly higher percentage of the vote, the community projected Zhaire Smith (39% of the vote) as the 13th most valuable player to the Sixers in 2018-2019. Furkan Korkmaz received 37% of the vote, with the difference between Smith and Korkmaz being just 6 votes. So it was certainly close, and I wonder how things would have turned out had those two players been the only options.

Zhaire Smith

When Brett Brown orchestrated a trade during the 2018 NBA Draft that sent 10th overall pick Mikal Bridges to the Phoenix Suns in exchange for Zhaire Smith (and Miami’s 2021 first round pick), the transaction drew both praise and criticism. Amongst those who opposed the move, one of the main criticisms was that Zhaire Smith’s rawness meant that he wouldn’t be a contributor for at least a year or two. That notion hasn’t changed for many Sixers fans, and now that Zhaire is sidelined until [who really knows] with a Jones fracture, the idea has only grown stronger.

Smith has the athletic tools to compile a highlight reel every single game. But the rookie has spent his basketball life that we know of often in the role of a big man. The problem? He’s only 6’4”. Zhaire will likely have to transition to the wing or backcourt, which will require a learning curve that’s only gotten steeper due to Smith’s injury.

It’s exciting to imagine the possibilities of an all-athletic lineup consisting of Ben Simmons, Markelle Fultz, Zhaire Smith, Joel Embiid and Joe Schmo who can defend and has some speed. Or Simmons and Zhaire in transition. After all, you can see Simmons feeding Zhaire on a play like this:

But with Zhaire missing so much development time, and possibly not returning until the Sixers are eyeing their playoff seeding, one could make the argument that Smith belongs even lower than #13 on this list.

I’m a big believer in Zhaire Smith, but this isn’t lining up to be his year. Maybe he comes back in January providing some always appreciated wing defense. But for now, Smith belongs near the bottom of the totem pole.

Sixers Community Rankings

Rank Player Vote percentage Runner-up Runner up vote % 3rd 3rd vote %
Rank Player Vote percentage Runner-up Runner up vote % 3rd 3rd vote %
17 Demetrius Jackson 41% Jerryd Bayless 29% Furkan Korkmaz 10%
16 Jerryd Bayless 29% Demetrius Jackon (leading vote getter) 32% Shake Milton 22%
15 Shake Milton 81% Jonah Bolden 8% Zhaire Smith 4%
14 Jonah Bolden 69% Zhaire Smith 17% Furkan Korkmaz 12%
13 Zhaire Smith 39% Furkan Korkmaz 37% Amir Johnson 8%

Vote on #12:


Who will be the 12th most valuable player on the Sixers this season?

This poll is closed

  • 64%
    Furkan Korkmaz
    (187 votes)
  • 6%
    TJ McConnell
    (20 votes)
  • 10%
    Amir Johnson
    (31 votes)
  • 7%
    Mike Muscala
    (21 votes)
  • 10%
    Landry Shamet
    (31 votes)
290 votes total Vote Now

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