Sixers Notes: Saric, Okafor, Noel

Although a crowded frontcourt has kept the Sixers in the spotlight through the first four months of the NBA season, there are other concerns that the Philadelphia franchise will have to address heading forward. Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Inquirer decided to shine a light on some of the less discussed roster dynamics in a recent column.

One of the biggest questions that Sixers head coach Brett Brown will have to answer as the roster formally evolves from rebuilding project to actual Eastern Conference contender is what to do at the power forward spot. Currently the club starts veteran Ersan Ilyasova with rookie Dario Saric slotted in as his replacement off the bench. Saric’s play of late, however, has warranted more playing time. In nine February games, Saric has averaged 15.8 points and 7.0 rebounds per game.

Considering the progress that the Croatian has made, general manager Bryan Colangelo will need to determine whether he trusts Saric enough to let the 29-year-old Ilyasova and his expiring $8.4MM walk this summer. Another challenge the club’s brass will have to face is to truly assess the value of backup big man Richaun Holmes. Holmes has impressed, averaging nearly 15 points and 10 rebounds per 36 minutes, but it’s unclear whether the team would be comfortable with him as Philly’s primary backup center.

Another thing that the Sixers will have to address in the near future is adding perimeter offense. It’s imperative, Cooney writes, that the team add shooters who can open the floor for Joel Embiid and eventually Ben Simmons.

There’s more out of Philadelphia:

  • Although nothing has transpired yet, there have been plenty of trade talks surrounding Jahlil Okafor. Although the second-year center’s name has come up in rumors all season long, he was held out of two games last week as the franchise engaged in discussions with “10 or 11 teams”. Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Okafor grew up playing against Anthony Davis of the Pelicans and would be particularly interested in playing in his hometown for the Bulls. Both New Orleans and Chicago are among the teams with whom Philadelphia has discussed a possible trade.
  • For what it’s worth, Joel Embiid believes that the Sixers could utilize all of their assets, including Jahlil Okafor. As Pompey writes in a separate Philadelphia Inquirer piece, Embiid suggested as much on Saturday. “We got a lot of talent, and I feel we can use everybody if we want to get to where we want to,” Embiid said.
  • Once at the center of trade rumors, Sixers center Nerlens Noel has noticed a change in culture, writes Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype. “It’s a lot more fun, a lot more enjoyable, and it honestly feels like a whole new culture,” Noel said. The big man is aware of the logjam at his position, however. “[Joel Embiid, Jahlil Okafor and I] are all genuine, and we’re all young men who just want to play well in this league and see each other do well at the same time.”
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18 thoughts on “Sixers Notes: Saric, Okafor, Noel

  1. Michael N

    As a Sixer fan i can without a doubt say that Saric is the future 4 of this team. I think Ben Simmons is versatile and athletic enough to play the 4. Richaun Holmes is a good player but ideally if backups are making 15-18million a year (biyombo). Then i would rather give that money to Noel who is a better version of Biyombo. Holmes is still cheap enough where you don’t need to make a decision on him for 2 more years.
    As far as adding shooting goes thats what team has been doing by drafting Luwawu-Cabarot and Korkmaz. As far as Ilyasova he’s a nice addition but at this point in his career he’s a bench player if cheap enough id keep him around. Bigger question is what they plan to do with Robert Covington. If Saric is a the future 4 and Simmons is the 3 then where do you put Covington. He’s a good player but he’s not a all star. Considering his status on this team i would assume he’s available for trade in the future if both Saric and Simmons are healthy and perform as expected.

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    • reggie green

      Ilyasova at the right price is worth keeping.although he could be had at the deadline at the right price to.Okafor,Henderson,Ilyasova,and Rodriguez should all be available.

      But if we kept Ilyasova,we could go into next year with…

      c-Embiid-Noel-Holmes
      pf-Saric-Ilyasova
      sf-Simmons,free agent or pick-Rco-Luwawu
      sg-Free agent or pick-Stauskas-Korkmaz
      pg-Simmons,free agent or pick-McConnell-Bayless.

      Our options are nice between now and the start of next season.

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      • reggie green

        Holmes actually has a good enough shot that he could back up Saric if we didn’t keep Ilyasova.

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      • Michael N

        I don’t like Simmons defending PGs. Im not saying he can’t but its not what i would prefer. I rather have a legit PG that can D and shoot the 3 on occasion.

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        • reggie green

          Id rather him playing point forward,with a point guard on the court with him.that way we can have either 1 of them running the floor at different times throughout the game.

          Until its no longer an option,im hoping for the return of Jrue Holiday.

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          • reggie green

            Im hoping for a Embiid-Saric-Simmons-Tatum-Holiday starting 5

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    • NBAFAN

      HA! Korkmaz will never play a NBA game.

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      • reggie green

        Considering you saying that is the first time ive ever heard of there being any question at all about him coming over,im not gonna take it to seriously.

        I remember him paying attention to the draft,being disappointed he wasnt picked in the top 20,being surprised that the 6ers took him,and the plan was he would play a season or 2 overseas before coming over.

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        • NBAFAN

          I actually watch euroleague.. oh wait he isn’t even good enough to play in that either…

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          • reggie green

            Thats nice.so you’ve watched him play the whole 14 minutes he’s played this year and decided he couldn’t make it in the Nba.yet nba scouts had him as a player worth a 1st round pick in last years nba draft.

            Again,im not taking you seriously.

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            • NBAFAN

              alot of European prospects in euroleague get picked in the first round. Had he went to college he wouldn’t have been drafted.

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  2. Hen1CHC

    You run Simmons like Point Giannas in Milwaukee, draft Monk or some sharpshooter to pour in points at the 2, ideally get the Lakers Pick and get a SF, but Covington can start well enough, leaving Saric at the 4 and Embiid at the 5.
    Noel represents energy guy who grabs boards off the bench.
    Okafor should be traded, even if the haul isn’t great, a mediocre draft pick and/or a 2/3 that can shoot would go a long way on this roster

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  3. Tdog12

    With Noel’s obvious defensive ability, and his flashes of potential on offense, I can’t believe more contenders aren’t considering him at the deadline. He could be a force in the middle, like Clint Capela is for the Rockets who spread the floor offensively, and let him do his thing on defense. Portland would be a great spot for him

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    • It’s because he’s a free agent to be. No team is eager to give up what it would require to trade for him and then give him a big contract at the end of the season. Most teams are either waiting for the price to come down or are willing to wait to the offseason and submit an offer sheet and hope the Sixers decline to match.

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      • Tdog12

        Whoever wants him will likely have to over pay him just to convince the 6ers not to match. You could avoid handing out a lot more money if you trade for him, and maybe reach a one or two year deal in hopes to get an extension later

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        • And do you really think the Sixers are going to give Noel a contract that is worth more than $13 million annually (on the low end) when they have Embiid, Simmons, and Saric (at least as long term guys), as well as Holmes and Okafor. None of those guys (including Noel) spread the floor enough, or efficiently right, to throw three of them out there at a time (such as Simmons-Saric/Noel/Holmes-Embiid/Okafor).

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  4. smittybanton

    I don’t like what’s been reportedly offered for Jahlil Okafor–Omer Asik and NO18 or Denzel Valentine and CHI18. Especially considering we got a late first and Ersan Ilyasova for Jeremi Grant–who many Sixers fans feel is not an NBA player at all.

    I wouldn’t give Denzel Valentine minutes over Nik Stauskas or Timothe Luwawu.

    So I’m prepared for BC to keep Okafor, at least until the summer to see if we can use him to trade up in the draft. If we’re picking behind New Orleans, who plan on re-signing Jrue Holiday, I would prefer to give them, say, Jonathan Isaac and Okafor then if it gets us Lonzo Ball or Jayson Tatum.

    Because Okafor is only in the second year of his rookie deal, I’m even prepared to take him into next season as the best third string center. If he’s as bad as people say he is, then there’s really no problem letting him rock out until the end of his rookie contract and let him walk.

    Trade Richaun instead.

    Since he’s better than Okafor, he should fetch more in return, no?

    Nevermind that his DFG% is pretty high, Richaun blocks shots and shoots threes at a 36% clip. Surely for that we can get Patrick McCaw from Golden State, since they need a rim protector who can run the floor and shoot with the guys they already have. Golden State also needs second round picks to fill out their roster after they give all their money to Kevin Durant and Steph Curry next year.

    McCaw is long and fast, plus he can shoot and defend and make plays. He is being mentored by Andre Igoudala. He is from St. Louis like Jayson Tatum. I want all three on the squad next year.

    A fantastic complement to Ben Simmons in the backcourt, he would challenge Stauskas and Gerald Henderson for that starting spot to closeout the year. I also think McCaw and Stauskas together could form an extremely nice bench unit.

    Trade Deadline Assessment of the Rest of the Squad:

    In a straight five on five, Brett Brown could smoke half to three-fourths of the league with Ben Simmons, Robert Covington, Nerlens Noel, Dario Saric, and Joel Embiid. Everybody else is expendable.

    Joel Embiid is everything in the world we could have expected and more, except he is injured again. Keep the Bigs, Unless the Trade is a Win!

    Pay Nerlens. Hinkie’s last gift to us is goo goo gobs of cap space. Noel is a stud already, and the best part is that he’s far from ready to come out the oven yet. The more he pulls his offensive game away from the basket, the more he’ll be able to play with Joel. Plus, I’m not ever playing Joel in the second game of back to backs. Ever.

    Not only is Saric our future starting power forward, he will in short time be able to play small ball center. Robert Covington spreads the floor and can guard two through four splendidly. He should know he has to be much better off the dribble to hold down his spot long term, though.

    Regardless whether he reaches the same heights, Ben Simmons’ game is Magic Johnson all over again. I hated rooting against the Lakers because Showtime was so fun. To think we get to see its reincarnation? It seems too good to be true, which is why I odn’t argue with those who can’t see Ben Simmons as a point guard.

    But that’s what the **** he is. Lol. A point guard. Ben Simmons is faster and more athletic than Magic Johnson was. It’s easier for a big to guard the point in the modern nba, especially against “lead” guards. Besides being an infinitely better basketball player, Ben Simmons is better able to guard “point guards” than MCW 6’6-7, Tony Wroten 6’5-6, and Jakarr Sampson 6’8-9, all of whom Brett Brown has used as starting point guards.

    If you try to tell me Magic guarded forwards or whatnot, then I suppose Reggie Theus and Michael Ray Richardson were forwards as well, because those battles were legendary. Lol. Yes, Byron Scott played some of the points, like Maurice Cheeks. Magic switched over to Andrew Toney, who was only 6’3″, and lightening quick. To the extent one insists he guarded some forwards, no amount of revisionist history is going to remove Magic Johnson from the point guard position. And Ben Simmons is his doppleganger.

    Jahlil Okafor is buckets off the bench. 6’11 Lou Williams. Whatever the Nokafor’s say, his flaws are now what they were when he was Draft Xpress’ #3 rated prospect in the 2015 draft. He is the scorer he was projected to be. Keep him, unless we get a comparable player who fits a need, or a 2017 lottery pick giving us an extra chance at Lonzo Ball. Why not develop a third string center with his ability and his cheap contract? Why not have a third string center who other teams would pay a first round pick for? We have plenty of other assets to fulfill other needs. With Okafor as third string, there’s absolutely no reeason top play Joel in back to backs.

    TJ McConnell and Nik Stauskas could be a nice little tandem off the bench over the last twenty games. Scrappy Doo will be a great third point guard on a dope squad. As for Nik Stauskas, I wish he were a better defender. Should do well next to Ben Simmons after the All-Star Break, if we dont make any trades at all. Hopefully Lonzo Ball takes place in next year’s starting lineup. Would be a nice shooting guard off the bench going forward. Not sure what to pay him in a couple years. I actually wouldn’t be surprised if he’s part of a trade package on Thursday.

    On the third tier, Timothe Luwawu-C has spunk. Furkan Korkmaz looks like he’s developing nicely overseas. Their presence also gives the option to keep Okafor. I do not believe Denzel Valentine is better than TLC.

    On the fourth tier, next year’s Sixers can do without any of Sergio Rodriguez, Gerald Henderson, or Jerryd Bayless. I probably would re-sign Ersan Ilyasova for cheap. The other two free agents I feel the Sixers will end up getting are Andre Igoudala and Tyreke Evans.

    As for the draft, the dream is that the Sixers go on an incredible winning streak, meanwhile the Sacramento Kings win the lottery, pushing the Lakers to the 4th pick. With #1 and #4, I’m going Lonzo Ball and Jayson Tatum.

    The case could be made for others, but Lonzo Ball fits next to Ben Simmons as the shooting guard and behind him as the backup point guard. We want to get up and down the court in a blur. Ball specializes in that.

    If Josh Jackson is available at four, it’d be a toss-up, and I’d love to have him. However, I’ll assume he’s gone, and take Jayson Tatum, because he has two way skills and position versatility.

    Ben Simmons, Lonzo Ball, Robert Covington, Dario Saric, Joel Embiid
    Patrick McCaw, Tyreke Evans, Andre Igoudala, Ersan Ilyasova, Nerlens Noel
    TJ McConnell, Nik Stauskas, Timothe Luwawu-C, Jayson Tatum, Jahlil Okafor

    G-League: DDeAnthony Melton, Furkan Korkmaz

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    • GK777

      Excellent breakdown. Not even a Sixers fan but you filled me in on the now and future. Great job

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