Sixers Mailbag: Porzingis a Possibility at No. 3, Can Embiid and Noel Work Together and More…
Welcome to Derek Bodner’s Sixers Mailbag. You can check out his previous installments of the mailbag.
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In this week’s edition of the Sixers Mailbag, Derek answers your questions as we head into June 25th's draft, Sixers fans want to find a way to get an additional top-10 pick. Is that feasible? Can Embiid and Noel work together? Is Kristaps Porzingis a possibility at 3? That and more in this week's Sixers Mailbag.
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?