The Argument Against Trading Jahlil Okafor
On Friday ESPN's Marc Stein and Chad Ford reported the Sixers are exploring their options to trade Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel in order to gauge the trade market and see their value in the interest of trading at least one of them in the weeks leading up to the 2016 NBA Draft on June 23rd.
If the 76ers do trade either Okafor or Noel, we can conjecture that the team expects Joel Embiid to be healthy enough to play this up coming season. The assumption can also be made that people in the Sixers organization do not think Okafor and Noel can play together or in tandem with Embiid in the long term despite the fact we have yet to see Embiid play in an NBA regular season game.
Marcus Hayes of the Philadelphia Daily News was a guest on Sports bash Saturday with Josh Hennig and gave his reasoning as to why the team should not trade Okafor:
"I like Jahlil Okafor, I think you can teach a guy, I think you can encourage a guy to play better defense and rebound. Jahlil Okafor came in as a 19 year old kid and I did the research, there's never been a 19 year old player in the history of the NBA with an offensive game as polished as his. And you can argue it wont get any better, you can argue that he's a bad guy, you can argue any of that stuff. But he's the most polished, young post player in the history of the NBA that I could find. And I don't know why you would ever trade him for like the number four pick where you could take Kris Dunn because he (Okafor) is a generational post player. Unless you just don't value that position and unless you're guaranteed Joel Embiid will be playing more than 50 games this year, which he can't because they (Sixers) have already told us that he's not playing back to backs. So it seems like you'd be 'cutting off your nose to spite your face' regardless of what you got, unless you juts change the whole template and you don't want an offensive post player. I can't read their minds. I wouldn't trade him but if they think the team would be better with one and a half post players and a bunch of perimeter guys that's their call."
We have heard similar arguments from Sixers' Beat Writer Bob Cooney who says the team shouldn't trade anyone until we know for sure what we have in Embiid. Despite Embiid's great potential and the somewhat outlandish comparisons of his potential to Hakeem Olajuwon, we still have yet to see Embiid play a full NBA season. Two major surgeries and back problems have plagued the 3rd overall pick of the 2014 NBA Draft. We have seen this tragic story line before with infamous NBA Lottery Picks Greg Oden and Sam Bowie.
The 76ers, by their own admission, say this team is still in a rebuild and are not ready to be contenders yet. So what is the rush to trade Okafor and Noel? Noel's Field Goal percentage improved from 46.2 percent his first season to 52.1 percent last season so there is growth with his offensive game. Meanwhile Okafor, despite missing the final few weeks of the season, still averaged 17.5 points per game, 1.2 Blocks per game, and 7.0 Rebounds per game to go along with a 50.8 Field Goal Percentage.
It seems as if there is something going on behind the curtains of the Sixers organization that has not been let on to the public. Is Embiid healthier than we have been told? Are there issues with Noel and/or Okafor that the organization deems unable to overlook? We have read the stories about both Noel and Okafor issues off the court from trashing private property to fights outside bars. While some people may say these incidents are just the actions of young men being, you know, "boys being boys" mantra. Or these incidents could be examples of more deep seeded issues with these young men. We don't know what has happened that the organization and the player's inner circles have suppressed from the media and the fan base.
There may be more to all of these trade rumors than meets the surface because typically talent starved organizations that are rebuilding like the 76ers don't look to trade two of their most talented players many years before those players reach the prime of their careers. Also let's not forget Okafor and Noel have unappealing medical records as well.
Time will tell what the real reasons why this organization wants to gauge the trade value of their two talented Big men. But based on their on the floor performance along with the strong opinions of veteran sports writers who have seen a lot of Sixers basketball over the last couple decades, I lean towards the "let's wait and see" approach instead of the "let's trade them while they have value" approach.
Checkout more of Marcus Hayes conversation with Josh Hennig in which they discussed Twitter/Sports Dialogue, why Carson Wentz should sit his Rookie season along Hayes elaborating on his assertion that Joe Banner was an innovative Front Office Executive