Welcome to Derek Bodner’s Sixers Mailbag. You can check out his previous installments at Libertyballers.com.

Each week Derek will answer reader questions and tweets and will appear on the Sports Bash with Mike Gill to answer your questions.

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.

In this week’s edition of the Sixers Mailbag, Derek answers your questions about which of the Sixers young players will be sticking around, the Sixers defensive improvement, and the 2015 NBA draft.

Before we get to the questions, I took some video of Joe Embiid working out before their game vs the Hornets and last night vs Golden State...enjoy:

Now....on to your questions!


You can only keep 2 of 3 out of Covington, McDaniels, and Grant. Who don't you keep?

Keeping Covington, to me, is a no-brainer.

I do like both McDaniels and Grant. While Grant is intriguing as heck defensively, I think it's easier to slot McDaniels into a lineup, as I think he can legitimately defend both shooting guard and small forward positions. McDaniels is only 6'6", but he has a wingspan that's above average for a small forward, and I think as he continues to physically mature and get stronger I don't have much concern putting him on the court at either position. Grant, on the other hand, I think you can still only use at the 4 in certain situations and in certain matchups. I like that versatility that KJ offers.

That being said, if I could only pick one, I ultimately pick whichever one I have the most confidence in with regards to his outside shot. They're both fantastic (and fantastically unique) team defenders, but I have more confidence in Grant's outside shot at the moment, which is a statement I never thought I'd make. The progress he's made is nothing short of astounding.


The trade deadline is a month away, what moves do you see the 76ers making? Additionally, what teams are looking to shed big contracts that the 76ers could seemingly take back for draft picks?

I see them trading with whichever team will give them the best draft picks to get them under the luxury tax. Who is that? I'm not entirely sure, to be honest. I'd have to spend some more time really looking at each team's financial standing. But I don't see them really making any move of significance, at least in terms of bringing in a current NBA player.


What do you think has been the biggest driver of our defensive improvement: a better understanding of the system by the players OR the players just being the athletic pogo sticks and playing better 1x1 defense.

The biggest source of our defensive improvement? The pogo sticks, definitely, although that's a factor in team defense as well, not just 1x1 defense. You remove guys like Spencer Hawes, Evan Turner, and even James Anderson and replace them with Nerlens Noel, Jerami Grant, and K.J. McDaniels and you're bound to see (considerable) improvement just from the athletic upgrade, assuming they're willing to dedicate themselves to playing defense, which this group is.

That's not to say that there hasn't been (considerable) improvement in the quality of their rotations, as I think you can definitely notice less hesitation as they become more certain in where they're supposed to be, but the biggest driving factor in their improvement over last season is in personnel. They're letting guys like Grant, McDaniels, and Noel play to their strengths (defense) while the rest of their game catches up, a luxury most NBA coaches don't necessarily have.


How many players on the 76ers roster do you see being on the team at the start of 2015-2016?

These are the players I think have a pretty good chance:

More From 97.3 ESPN