The pairing of big men Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor earned a C grade from Sixers coach Brett Brown, according to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Okafor had a troubled rookie season off the court despite being the team’s leading scorer at 17.5 points per game. He was suspended for two games in December after being part of two street fights in Boston and was cited for driving more than 100 mph in Philadelphia. Okafor’s season ended prematurely with a meniscus tear in his right knee. Questions have lingered about how well he and Noel fit together, with rumors that the Sixers were gauging interest in Okafor at the trade deadline. “With sometimes the excitement of [an] A, no doubt,” Brown said in explaining his C grade. “Sometimes the disappointment of [an] F. It’s not anybody’s fault. We all have talked about it and I believe everybody here understands how difficult [it is] taking two [centers] that are 20 and letting them figure out NBA transition defense and matchups and the punishments.”
There’s more out of Philadelphia:
- The Sixers shouldn’t feel any pressure to take a point guard early in the draft, contends Derek Bodner of Philadelphia magazine. Sitting on top of our reverse standings, Philadelphia expects to have a prime selection with its own choice and will receive the Lakers’ pick if it falls outside the top three. Bodner isn’t convinced that prospects such as Kris Dunn of Providence or Jamal Murray of Kentucky are the answer in the range of the Lakers’ pick. The Sixers are likely to get the Thunder’s and Heat’s picks as well, which is where they could nab someone like French prospect Timothe Luwawu.
- Brown deserves more time to try to build a winner, argues Bob Cooney of The Philadelphia Inquirer. The columnist will likely get his wish, as Brown signed a two-year extension in December despite a poor won-loss record. He recently summed up his coaching situation. “There is just no margin of error for us. None,” said Brown. “If you missed a switch, you lose. If you miss a box out, you could lose. If you miss two box outs and two switches, you lose by eight. There’s just no margin for error. We just don’t have the roster to absorb multiple errors.”
- Having a parcel of draft picks is no guarantee of success, Cooney warns in a separate story. He also notes that most players have to become veterans before they’re ready to win big.