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Sixers Mailbag Volume 11 - Trading Wroten, Jerami Grant's improved play, and more

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In the 11th edition of the LibertyBallers Sixers mailbag we talk about what Tony Wroten can bring in a trade, how well Jerami Grant and Jordan McRae are progressing, a look at what future picks the Sixers have, as well as a look at the strengths of various international leagues.

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Welcome back for the 11th edition of the LibertyBallers Sixers mailbag. We've had a couple of wins of late, a couple of young players showing good signs, and a couple of scorching hot takes about the team. All in all, a pretty good week to be a Sixers fan!

(Relatively speaking, of course).

Also, Rich Hofmann, Kyle Neubeck, and I released a new Sixers Beat podcast. Go check it out.


AJ:

Q: Assuming the Sixers end up with the first or second pick, as well as Miami's pick, what would you guess Hinkie ends up doing with the 4+ second round picks?

Well, I didn't think there was any shot he would come away with 5 players from the 2nd round in last years draft, and he did (Well, technically,  they traded one for Pierre Jackson, who was taken the previous year, but they basically came away with 5 2nd round rookies). So I'm not sure I'm really confident in my guess.

Sam Hinkie definitely approaches the 2nd round by tackling it with pure numbers, so he could very well use 5 picks, try to sign them to long term non-guaranteed deals, stash one or two, and see who emerges. I think there's still a chance he combines them or adds them to the Miami pick to try to move up, like he tried to do with Sacramento last year.  But if he can't, I could see him drafting 4 more second round picks again.


Joseph:

Q: Do you think that we can acquire another 1st rounder in the 2015 draft by trading away Tony Wroten with second round picks and some cash or is Tony part of the Sixers' future?

I don't think Wroten is, at this time, part of the future core. I think they're okay with letting him play out his rookie contract (one more year after this) to see if he can improve, but I think they'd move him if they got value for him.

The question is whether they'd get value for him. If you look at the guys over the past 12-16 months who have commanded a first round pick, the names are guys like Luol Deng, Omer Asik, Jeff Green, Brandan Wright, Dion Waiters, and Thaddeus Young. All veterans going to good teams (or teams who were delusional enough to think they could be a good team. Hi, Minnesota). I don't think bad teams will value Wroten as a building block enough to give up their pick, and I don't think good teams (who have a more realistically obtainable late pick) view Wroten as a piece that can be easily plugged into a rotation and contribute, it would have to be the exact right spot. So I'm not really sure where he fits.

Perhaps they can get a late first round pick for him, but I'm not sure I see it right now.


Avery:

Q: Can you lay out the draft schedule for the Sixers over the next four years. I hear they have something like 24 2nd rounders in the next six years. And why the heck aren't the Knicks catching hell for tanking? If you ask me their recent actions make them more suspect than us.

I set this up a few weeks ago, and I plan to keep it up to date after every trade. It details out the incoming/outgoing picks, while also listing a summary of what they'll have.

As for the Knicks, I really don't care to complain about the national media attention they are or are not receiving. I don't think they people should be complaining about what they're doing: it's what they should be doing. So really, when people complain that the Knicks aren't getting criticized for it, they're really complaining that the Sixers did get criticized. And I've already voice my opinion on the criticism levied against the Sixers enough that at this point it's just repetitive.


Noah (& similar question from Matthew):

Q: I would love to hear your thoughts on Jerami Grant. When he came out of college, he was considered a potential first round pick as he’s very athletic and seemingly has a lot of upside. What are your thoughts on how he’s performed? Despite his potential, it seems like his jumper will never be a consistent shot and he’s not big enough to be a four.

I wasn't in love with Jerami Grant as a prospect. I didn't really have him as a first round prospect at any point last year. And, while I understood the reasoning for his selection because of his potential in case he figures it out, I didn't have much hope. I looked at him as a lottery ball. Great if he works out, but don't count on it.

Well, over the last 2-3 weeks he's really surprised me. The obvious good sign has been his jump shot, as he's made 5 of his last 8 three point attempts, and his length, athleticism, and shot blocking have shown the havoc he can create defensively. It's been fun to watch. A thriller, you could say.

As for his position, I always thought he had to be a 3 to succeed. I *really* don't like playing natural PF's who don't have the ball handling or perimeter skills at the 3, but Grant's build and poor rebounding kind of necessitate that. His jump shot is a good first step in his progression to becoming a three (although I'm not 100% sold on his improvement thus far), but he also really needs to improve his ball handling, particularly with his left hand. He just has no comfort if a defender forces him to change direction or dribble in a crowd.


Eugene:

Q: If the Sixers had the #1 pick last year, do you think they still would've went with Embiid? I'm perfectly happy they snagged him at three, though I'm super curious if their plan A all along was to tank two seasons in a row.

Absolutely.

Last year in the week leading up to the draft, I mentioned to some of the LB staff that I had strong indication that Embiid was #1 on their big board. I didn't have the ability to report that at the time, but everything that's happened since has only confirmed that belief.

Now, I don't believe their intent was to tank two years in a row. I don't think Embiid's short-term availability impacted their decision to draft him, either positively or negatively. They didn't draft Embiid because they could tank a second season, but him missing the season didn't cause them to avoid drafting him, either. In my opinion, they targeted Embiid because he had the best chance to be a franchise player.


Dan:

Q: Can you break down the slot values of contracts for certain draft picks under the current CBA, and how that might play into this upcoming draft?


How much value do those guys have because they were drafted relatively low, at the 6 and 11 slots - shouldn't that mean that, assuming two max contracts after their rookie deals are up, the first say ten years of their careers would be FAR smaller contracts than a top 3 pick (Embiid and/or this year's) will be?

Larry Coon provides a great resource for that. One thing to keep in mind is that those tables are the NBA's slotted value. Teams and players can then negotiate 20% up or down from that first-year value. In practice, just assume that every draft pick is going to get 120% of the slotted contract.

One thing to keep in mind: The lower the pick, the higher the 4th year raise, so that narrows the gap, although only by a little bit.

Just going off of slotted amounts, the total value for a 4 year contract for #3, #6, and #11 would be:

#3 (2014 draft): 4 years, $16.7 million

#6 (2013 draft): 4 years, $11.9 million

#11 (2013 draft): 4 years, $8.4 million

It's also worth pointing out that the salaries for first round picks are already slotted out through the duration of the CBA, whereas the new national TV deal that could completely change the economic landscape of the NBA could make these real value contracts, especially if the league and players association don't opt out of the CBA in 2017.

They would all have roughly the same earning potential for the second contract (slight difference because of assumed increase in cap in the one year that separates when they hit free agency). Larry Coon describes that here.

So, there is a slight difference in total earning potential, but you're only talking about $8-10 million, which after two NBA contracts that span a 9 year period, isn't all that significant. The real difference in earning potential is determined by what the various prospects show over their 4 year rookie contract.


Jay (similar question from Tony):

Q: Can you talk about Jordan McRae and how he'll fit in on the Sixers? Do you see him coming over after his season is over with in Australia? From looking at their schedule online, seems like they have about a 5 weeks left (plus playoffs?). Do you think he'd immediately get heavy minutes on this team? What do you see for him next year?

Regular season ends in late February. I think there's a chance he comes over. I'd put it at ~50% he comes over, if for nothing more than they want to see him in practice.

Do I think he's ready to be a regular rotation player? Not necessarily. I think he has the talent offensively to contribute, but I think he has quite a bit of work to do before he's capable of defending NBA wings on a regular basis. I think Brett Brown could have a bit of a challenge getting him to consistently commit himself on that end of the court, and his strength is an obvious concern. But, while not tall, his length does give him some tools.

That being said, whether he's really ready might not have all that much bearing. They may just want to evaluate him and see how he responds. So if he comes over, I do think he'll get some minutes.


Jay (similar question from David):

Q: Is there a ranking of international leagues?

I'm sure various analytical projection systems do try to estimate how well stats translate from the various league, although I'm not sure of any that list how each position and stat translates from each league publicly.

Of scouts, I'm not sure there is a generally agreed upon consensus, and some of the leagues fluctuate from time to time. The Turkish Basketball League and Chinese Basketball Association have both improved over the past 5-10 years, for example.

Most people will have the ACB in Spain as being as good as any league outside of the NBA, and it's pretty unanimously thought of as the highest competition among the international leagues. Greece (HEBA), Lega Basket Seri A (Italy), and French Pro A league (France) are also consistently strong, and I would have them in that second tier of leagues.

I would have the Turkish Basketball League in the next tier, and the CBA right around there as well, although while the top-end talent in the CBA has been improving of late, it's still spread pretty thin. The NBL is probably the league I know the least about, and the one that I've followed the least closely before this year.

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.