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LibertyBallers Mailbag Volume 8 - Nerlens Noel, Andrew Wiggins, and Kristaps Porzingis

In the 8th edition of the LibertyBallers Sixers Mailbag, we take a look at European prospect Kristaps Porzingis, how Nerlens Noel's offensive game has progressed since Kentucky, the gone, but not out of mind, Andrew Wiggins, and the debacle against the Memphis Grizzlies.

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back to the 8th edition of the LibertyBallers Sixers Mailbag. You can check out our previous installments at our story stream.

No wins to talk about this week (thanks, Memphis), but we did finally get the long-awaited addition of Furkan Aldemir (even though nobody asked any questions about him...).

On to the questions!


Q: Can you talk about Noel's offensive progression since college?

The main change has been on his jump shot. He legitimately did not attempt a single jump shot at Kentucky, something that Noel claimed in an interview once, and which I went back and verified by looking at Kentucky tape from the 2012-13 season.

So far this season he's attempted 28 shots from 8-16 feet, connecting on 35.7%. This was mentioned in the comments, but he's shooting 41% on baseline jumpers. Those are certainly not good percentages, but for somebody who legitimately attempted none of those shots before this season, it's at least intriguing.

One area that he's almost completely abandoned, and for good reason, has been operating out of the post. They tried to post him up more than you would have expected at Kentucky, and that's really not his game, especially at this level. He's traded that in for more face-up possessions. His quickness gives him some potential here, and he's converted at times, but they've generally led to wild, inefficient shots.

Overall, his offensive progression has probably gone about as well as could be (reasonably) expected, but he's obviously still incredibly raw.


Q: Do you think any Sixers have played themselves into tradeable assets?  (save MCW, Noel, KJ)  If so, who would you part with/who would you keep?

If you take away those three, I'm not sure anybody has really played their way into a tradeable asset.

Note, by tradeable asset, I mean actually getting something back in return of considerable value. Sure, you can trade guys like Wroten, Thompson, Sims, and Covington, but I don't see any of them fetching a first round pick, and for anything less, what's the point?

The guy who might have the most value in 2 years out of that group could be Covington, but I think it's still too early for his value to really jump.

That being said, the fact that you put K.J. into that group is a good sign. For a second round pick, he is already worth far more than he was just 6 months earlier.


Q: Could Porzingis share the floor with any two of Embiid, Noel and Saric?

I've only watched a handful of Kristaps Porzingis' games so far this year, but from what I have seen, he's improved tremendously.

(Reminder: I wrote a bit about Porzingis during the offseason)

The biggest improvement in his game has been on the perimeter. He always had some touch on his jumper, but it's looked far more fluid and consistent so far this year, to the point where it's been borderline automatic. Off the catch, off of one or two dribbles, coming off of screens, with a hand in his face, on turnarounds. He's shown an incredibly diverse skill set.

Now, he still doesn't create all that much off the dribble. He's far more likely to operate as a roller than a ball handler in the pick and roll, and he doesn't create much from the perimeter. He has a good first step and good handles (especially for his age) at the power forward spot, but I think you need more ability to create from the perimeter if you're slotting a guy at small forward next to Noel and Embiid. I still look at him more as a power forward prospect who has to fill out than a small forward. He could probably play spot minutes in such a lineup, but I wouldn't run it out there for extended periods of time.


Q: Can you give a full breakdown of the Grizzlies game for us in relation to your overall analysis of MCW?

Could I? Yes. Do I want to? Eh....I'm not sure I could stomach watching that 4th quarter again.

In truth, to really give a breakdown of that quarter, we're talking a 4,000 word breakdown, and not something I could fit into a mailbag.

But, it does represent many of the concerns people have about MCW, and about the construction of the team. The horrible turnovers, continually losing Conley off the ball, the bad shot selection. It was, ultimately, one game, and the worst we've seen it, so you don't want to make too much out of one game. But they're also not concerns that are only here because of that one game, either. The shooting has me the most concerned about his long term potential, but the defense is the part that aggravates me the most on a day-to-day basis.

MCW is a pretty good example that physical tools are only a small (albeit necessary) part of what it takes to be a great defender. The truly great defenders are almost always students of the game, and MCW has a ways to go before he gets there on that end of the court.


Q: Did Noel measure with small hands at the combine?

Nope. He had the 3rd largest hands at the 2013 combine. He certainly has bad hands, but I don't think hand size is to blame.


Q: Covington, a 3 point threat w/ nba body available off scrap heap? Indicative of how screwy the rockets are?

I think it's much more indicative of how deep the Rockets are on power forwards. With Terrence Jones really coming into his own, Donatas Motiejunas developing well, and even Trevor Ariza and Kostas Papanikolaou able to play there in small ball lineups, there really weren't minutes available for Covington there, and that's not even counting Clint Capela, who they just drafted in the first round.

I think it also speaks to how undervalued Covington was before latching on here. There were reports that the Sixers were talking to him before the D-League draft, but outside of that he didn't seem to have all that many suitors.

To me, it speaks more to being a good find by the Sixers than a screwy Rockets organization.


Q: Any chance the TWolves would be interested in a Wiggins for Okafor/Towns swap next June?

Is there a chance the Twolves would consider it? I would think they would have to consider it, even if I'm not sure they'd actually go for it, as I think they're fairly invested in Wiggins and believe in him.

The better question is whether Sam Hinkie would consider it. Obviously, you'll never get Sam to give his full, honest opinion on a prospect, but I wouldn't expect that he is as fixated on Andrew Wiggins as the fans are. In my own personal evaluation, I have both Okafor and Towns rated as better prospects than Andrew Wiggins. I wouldn't make that trade.


Q: Can you exchange 15 second round picks for 1 first round pick?

You can absolutely trade a combination of second round picks for a first round pick(s). And, unlike first round picks, there are no restrictions on trading picks in the second round.

That being said, I'm not sure I see Hinkie putting all of his eggs in one basket. While I do think consolidating assets to trade into the top 5 can, at times,  make sense, getting rid of multiple low-chance lottery balls for a single, only a slightly better chance with the 20th pick may not make a lot of sense.


Q: Say we take Towns, what of Noel then? What could we get for him? Would we move him? How many wins next year?

I kind of addressed what to do with Noel after the trade in last week's mailbag. So I'll just link to that.

As for wins, add in Embiid, a top 4 pick in 2015, another year of growth in KJ, Covington, Noel, and MCW, and some free agents who might fit rather than trying to find a diamond in the rough (which I think could happen this offseason), and I think you could see 30 wins rather easily. I'm fairly bullish on this team next year, at least relative to what most expect to happen.

That will wrap it up. Thanks to everybody who submitted questions, and my apologies if I didn't answer yours. If you want to submit a question for next week, either hit me up on twitter (include #sixersmailbag in the tweet) or send me an email.

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