Welcome back to the 21st edition of the LibertyBallers Sixers Mailbag. You can check out the previous installments at our story stream.
Q: Would you trade Nerlens for this years Orlando pick ?
I do continue to have questions about Embiid and Noel's fit. I see a lot of people argue that since Embiid can shoot, there's no concern. That may be (somewhat) true if the concern were to build an offense around the dribble penetration of a guard, but whether Embiid can shoot doesn't really fix the floor spacing for when Embiid posts up, nor does it give Embiid more room to be effective when diving to the hoop off of pick and rolls. And, in my opinion, it's really Embiid's effectiveness in those two situations that the Sixers will want to maximize, and why I have concern with pairing Noel and Embiid.
I also like a number of prospects in the #5 range of this draft, including Mario Hezonja, Justise Winslow, and Kristaps Porzingis. I would absolutely have interest in adding any one of them to the Sixers nucleus going forward.
I also think there's a chance, although I'm not sure the percent chance, that Noel never improves his outside shot to a consistent enough level that you can fully maximize Embiid. In this scenario, Embiid will have had to have proven himself healthy and as dominant as we hope he will become, and maximizing his ability becomes of utmost importance. There's a pretty big difference in terms of floor spacing between a guy who can occasionally make a shot from 17' and a guy who defenses *have* to guard from 23', and that floor spacing could be the difference between a guy who shows potential in the post and a guy who dominates the game at a championship level in the post.
If that happens, I don't think it's impossible that Noel could be moved. But a lot of things, specifically Embiid's health and his ability to dominate at an NBA level, have to happen before that truly becomes and issue. I also think Noel will always have value and, if in 18 months you determine it to be an issue, you will still be able to get talent in return for Noel. Now, as Noel gets closer to his extension the ability to maximize his value diminishes, so there is some benefit to determining this early, but there's the risk of Noel really improving from 18' and missing out on that pairing as well.
In the end, while I like Hezonja, Winslow, and Porzingis, and while I do admit that there is a chance Noel could end up not fitting long-term with Embiid, they all have significant enough holes in their games where I just couldn't make the trade. If the Sixers do move Noel I hope it's in a package for a two-way superstar who can fit with virtually any type of player. I only see one of those in this draft, and that's Karl-Anthony Towns.
Following up on the "Can Noel play next to Embiid" question ....
Q: If the answer to that becomes "Yes, but limited, not something you want to be doing 30+ minutes a game", is he too valuable to be a 6th man? A defensive specialist out of the C/PF position?
If Noel "just" turns into a 25-30 minute per game guy off the bench, mostly a result of his fit with the Sixers franchise player and not because of talent, that's not the worst scenario in the world. You could get away with only pairing Embiid + Noel for ~10 minutes per game, and you'd have an elite rim protector on the court at all times. And, whoever you go out and get to be the "right" fit next to Embiid would also likely work next to Noel. It's why there's not a real rush to determine whether Embiid and Noel can play together right now.
Q: It seems like Dario Saric isn't the floor spacer that we need with Embiid and Noel as his 3 pt% (until recently) was in the lower 30's. Mario Hezonja's game seems like a better fit and his shooting touch from deep is better. Who would you rather have? Dario or Mario? And does Dario have enough value that we could package him and picks to get back into the lottery for Hezonja?
Well, I wouldn't make any statements like that about Dario's floor spacing just yet. Remember, he just turned 21 last month, and he's shooting 37% since January 1st. That 37% is over 40 games and 100 attempts, so it's a pretty extended spell of being really, really good from distance. Also, a reminder that the European 3 point line (~22.2' at its furthest) is between the NBA three point line (23.75') and the college three point line (20.75'), so it's not that much of a transition to the NBA.
If the improvement on that jump shot is legitimate, then Dario is a very, very good complement next to Embiid, at least on the offensive side of the court. His ball handling and passing ability will naturally draw his defender to pressure him, which, along with that improved jump shot, will space the floor for Embiid. He rebounds well enough to allow Embiid to really focus on weakside shot blocking, and he moves well enough off the ball to be a threat when Embiid is posting up. The two of them would be really fun to watch.
Would I trade Dario for Mario? Before Dario's recent hot "stretch" I would have said yes. But he's been playing at such a high level, and shooting so much better from deep, for such an extended period of time that I'd really have to re-evaluate that. I've watched an Efes game here and there, but I haven't really focused in enough to be able to make that conclusion, as I've kind of left Dario as an after-the-draft priority, when I'll have a little bit more free time. Such is the benefit of not having to actually make that decision.
That being said, I would expect that Saric doesn't have as much value around the league as he does to the Sixers. For other teams, the fact that he's not coming over for at least a year, and potentially two, is more of an issue than it is for the ever-patient Sixers, and without having a perfect fit in Embiid to put Saric next to his defensive question marks might be a bigger concern. I get asked this question a lot, and I think Saric would go 7-12 in this draft, but that doesn't necessarily mean he has 7-12 value in a trade on draft day.
Q: Hinkie is committed to finding stars, and many agree Mario could be the best player in the draft, even if he's high risk. Would Hinkie be able to draft a point guard at 3, and then trade a player and/or next year's assets to slide into 5-7 spot to draft Mario.
Well, I've been on "team Mario" since this time last year. But I'm not sure Mario has all that realistic of a chance at being the best player in this draft, or even a "star" (which is such a really vague term with so many different meanings that it can drive me nuts). I think most people look at "star", whether rightly or wrongly, as somebody who can consistently create offense for his teammates. I'm not sure I see that in Mario, unless his handles improve at an exceptional rate. I think you draft Mario because you think he can be a "2nd best perimeter option" on a team and a really, really, rare two-way wing.
Now, the question about moving into the 5-7 range is a really interesting one. I think a lot of the teams in that range that would be open to trading their pick will be looking for guys who can contribute, and improve their teams, now. So the Sixers combination of the Lakers pick, the Heat pick, and even Saric, while incredibly valuable, might not be the most enticing offer these teams will get. If the Sixers do package these assets I think it's more likely to be at the trade deadline to a team looking to hit the reset button on a disgruntled star than it is on draft day.
I think the Sixers definitely have the assets to move up in the 5-7 range, but because of what the teams seem to be looking for it might take Noel to do so, which is too rich for my blood.
Q: You talked in one of your posts about the possibility of making an offer to Kawhi, Butler, Draymond Green, or Middleton. You also mentioned that it seems unlikely their teams would let them go. How do you feel about D. Carroll and Danny Green? Worth pursuing?
No doubt. I've talked before about how overpaying guys this offseason is really, really difficult. It's a heck of an opportunity. Green and Carroll are about to turn 28 and 29, respectively, so that adds a little bit of a concern, but both have games that should remain effective into their early 30's and both, because of their late development, have relatively few NBA miles on their tires.
The Hawks are actually in pretty decent cap shape, so I really can't see a team that close letting Carroll go, unless they come to an agreement with a top-tier, star free agent and have to renounce his rights, and cap hold, to make the signing. The Spurs will be really interesting, and I'm honestly not sure I can predict their offseason. But I think Green might be a free agent that has a realistic chance of changing teams, although whether the Sixers will be his best opportunity is hard to guess.
Q: If the philosophy is that a good big man is a rarer commodity than a good small man, do you think it is possible that Hinkie may go for Porzingis at 3.
Well, I'm not sure I'd necessarily say that the philosophy is to target big men. I think that's largely been a product of opportunity.
Would Hinkie consider Kristaps at 3? I know that there are a number of general manager's that are very high on Porzingis, and I've heard that Hinkie is a fan. If Towns and Russell go in the top-2 I don't think it's an impossibility, although I think the opportunity to trade down might be very enticing as well. And who knows, you could trade down to 4-7 and still end up with Porzingis.
Q: What kind of advanced stats does Hinkie look at?
Ones that he won't tell you about.
I've heard him talk to other media members about the need to use pace adjusted rather than per-game or per-minute stats, but that was more in the context of stats the media can, and should, use. The Sixers obviously go far, far, deeper than that. The details of the models he uses, how they mangle the SportVU data, or anything more specific? Good luck getting that. They treat it as trade secrets.
Q: Does the 3rd pick put us at the end of the first tier or the beginning of the second tier?
I put Towns alone in the top tier.
I then put Okafor and Russell in a 2nd tier (team-agnostic). Mario Hezonja is sometimes in that second tier, depending on my mood, but would currently rest in a 3rd tier with Mudiay.
Q: If sixers want to swap with Knicks (assuming Okafor is available), what's a possible trade?
There really aren't that many options with the Knicks. They don't really have anything on the roster that would interest the Sixers and the only real pick they have to trade is the 2018 first round pick, as they owe their 2016 1st round pick (well, the least valuable of their 1st or Denver's 1st) to Toronto, and they don't have any incoming picks.
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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