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Sixers Mailbag Volume 17 - Trading Noel, the Lakers 2016 pick, and more

The LibertyBallers Sixers mailbag returns, as we take a look at where the Lakers pick could fall next year, trading the 2016 1st round draft picks, a look back at the JaVale McGee trade, and whether or not Nerlens Noel could be traded.

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back to the 17th edition of the LibertyBallers Sixers Mailbag. You can check out the previous installments at our story stream.


Q: What is the % chance Lakers are a playoff team next year with potential Rando/Love/Kobe core next year?

If that team actually comes to fruition: Five percent? Maybe?

I think Rondo, who is still living off of his name and gaudy assist totals rather than his actual play, is a terrible fit with Kobe. I hope the Lakers go after Rajon Rondo and use up their cap space that way.

I also don't think Kevin Love and Julius Randle fit well together. At all. Who is going to protect the rim? Who is going to switch out on guards on pick and rolls? How in the world are they going to defend transition?

Especially when you factor in the injury risk, and how deep the West is, I think that team gets them in the 7-12 range on lottery night next year. This is why I'm not all that concerned with the Lakers cap space and the pick all of a sudden becoming far less valuable.


Q: Do you suppose we will draft four first rounders next year? Always imagined we'd package the Heat and OKC picks to move up.

I think, at some point, Sam Hinkie will start consolidating assets. There are only 15 roster spots on a team and only 240 minutes in a game.

Beyond that, while we like the philosophy of having as many lottery tickets as possible to mitigate risk, at some point you have to target quality. Sometimes that's through the draft, where the top of the draft is far more likely to produce franchise players, or through a trade.

I do think, especially after Hinkie ends up with Noel, Embiid, and his 2015 draft pick, we might see the focus shift to trying to "Harden a star", and it could start with the 2016 picks.


Q: I am team Hinkie for life, but can't get over feeling that he got taken on J. McGee. I know cap floor & all, but that's a lot of coin and space for a low 1st in 2017.

The Thunder pick not conveying is obviously a huge disappointment, and, assuming the Thunder have just a little bit more luck next year, it will be much less valuable than it would have been if it conveyed this year.

But two things.

1. If the Sixers really didn't give up anything, how could they have been taken? They had to use the cap space to get to the floor. Plus, it didn't actually cost them any money, and they gave up nothing of value. It's impossible for this to be a bad trade, just disappointing in relation to what we expected.

2. Nothing in life is a certainty, and there's always a risk. Even if the pick is going to end up being 27 rather than 19, the risk/reward was still in the Sixers favor, and the outcome doesn't change that.

You make the trade hoping that the pick ends up 19 and living with it if it ends up at 27. The outcome doesn't impact the soundness of the decision.

(Also, the pick will convey in 2016, not 2017).


Q: Your biggest hits and misses from a scouting perspective since you've been doing it.

Oh man. How many words do we have?

In terms of hits, I called Derrick Williams a future 6th man when everybody else was moving him into the top 5. In retrospect, I oversold on that projection, but in relation to everybody else, it was relatively accurate.

I remember having Bradley Beal in my top-5 and Damian Lillard in my top-10 pretty early in the process. I had Joel Embiid as the #1 pick in the draft in December of his freshman year, which was before many.

(Related: I can remember a time when Austin Rivers was rated higher than Bradley Beal. Fun times).

Misses? Two one-time Sixers are definitely on that list. I never thought Evan Turner was going to be a superstar, but I thought he'd be good. I thought he was the 3rd most talented player in that draft, and I would have taken him 2nd overall. Oops.

I was also a big fan of Thomas Robinson coming out of Kansas. Older big men are usually a red flag, but I bought into Kansas' front court depth holding him back during his first two seasons as a legitimate excuse to look past that. Also, the improvement he seemed to be making on his midrange game (he shot 68.2% from the free throw line his junior season) made me bullish on his ability to be a face-up power forward. That athleticism, rebounding, effort, and a face-up game? I was excited about him coming out of college.

And I had no idea Harden was going to be this good. None. I thought he'd be a starter. I thought he'd be a 2nd or 3rd option. Top scorer in the league? Never saw it.

I'm sure if I go through my notes I could find dozens more on both sides, but these are the ones that jump to mind off the top of my head.


Q: Imagine we end up with the #4 pick and the Lakers pick converts to #6. Would you pack both for #1 or #2?

(Note: The Sixers can't end up with #4 and #6. If they get #6, but don't end up in the top-3, then they have to pick 5th).

I sort of answered a very similar question earlier this week, although this is slightly different, since you lose that pick rather than just delaying its conveyance.

To start off, I would not include the Lakers pick to move up to #2 unless Towns was there. Really, this is more about moving up for one specific prospect than it is moving up to a place in the draft. I'd only consider doing it to move up for Towns.

Would I do it to move up and get Towns? I don't know. I do think superstars command a premium in this league. With how difficult they are to get, giving up a pick, even if it's a likely top-10 pick, is a small price to pay. But you have to be extremely confident in Towns' likelihood of becoming a superstar to throw away that additional chance to hit in the draft.

And I am relatively confident in Towns' ability. Thing is, I'm relatively confident in the guys that are likely to be there at #5 as well (Hezonja, Russell, Mudiay, even Winslow and Porzingis).

I'd have to think about it, but I probably would. My confidence level of Towns reaching excellence is higher than the rest of the guys listed, and high enough I'd probably give up a great asset in the Lakers pick to get the prospect I want.


Q: You have mentioned that you think that Kristaps Porzingis would be a great front court compliment to Embiid with his outside shooting.  Assuming we do not take him with our first pick, what makes Porzingis such a higher prospect than Frank Kaminsky, who might be available with the Miami pick?  Can you compare the two of them?

First, and most glaring, to me is Porzingis' ability to move his feet laterally, something that Kaminsky really struggles with. Porzingis can defend the pick and roll in the NBA, whereas I think Kaminsky will really struggle with that. That's big, especially for a guy playing next to Embiid and Noel, since you'll want to keep them in the paint to block shots as much as possible.

When switched to playing the five, Porzingis also makes more of an impact as a team defender and as a shot blocker.

Also, I think you have to take age into account. When Kaminsky was Porzingis' age, he wasn't near the player Kristaps is now. Kaminsky's growth over the years made him into an inside-outside threat, an incredibly advanced offensive player that was unguardable at the collegiate level, but I don't see that all translating to the next level. I think Porzingis will be better at the role he'll be asked to play, and I think he'll be a better defender as well.

For me, it's just about Porzingis getting physically stronger, but I'm willing to take that risk, at least over Kaminsky.


Q: Should Nerlens be worried? The 76ers traded MCW because they were dealing with substantially more info then the general public; they knew he was inefficient, they didn’t think his ceiling was that high, and they must have believed he was never going to develop a jumper. Although Nerlens has great statistical numbers defensively, his offensive game is not nearly as far along. Do you see the 76ers analyzing Nerlens in the same manner that they did with MCW? Given everything that we know about Hinkie, wouldn’t it make sense to trade Nerlens for a top pick?

I do not think it's impossible that Nerlens Noel gets traded, but it wouldn't be for the same reasons that Michael Carter-Williams did.

A point guard who has a limited offensive game is much more damaging than a center who does. Similarly, the impact an elite defensive center can make is far greater than the impact a good defensive guard can make.

Yes, I'm sure Sam Hinkie desires two-way players: he said as much during his press conference after the trade deadline. But I think he absolutely values, and values highly, a guy who can impact the game like Noel can. I don't think they analyze him the same way that they did MCW.

I do still believe that the key is going to come down to Embiid, whether Embiid answers his injury and longevity concerns, and whether Noel can become a good enough offensive player to fit with Embiid. I do think there's some legitimacy to the concern, but I think they give Embiid and Noel a considerable amount of time to work together (and Noel considerably more time to develop his perimeter shot) before they make any kind of a determination on that.

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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