One of the odd things about analyzing basketball is that self proclaimed hoops nerds (like me) have a tendency to deep so dive into a topic that we have a tendency to miss the obvious. And when the apparent presents itself, it does so in form of a 'Eureka!' like moment.

Today's example, this introduction from a piece by the 700 Level:

It's only a matter of time until the Sixers trade one of their big men. The roster is left with a glut of young centers as the franchise enters the post-process era, a transition that will be geared more toward team-building than asset-accumulation, and moving one could net the piece or pieces necessary to take the next step.

Yes. The Sixers do have to make a move. How did we miss that?

The pairing of Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel was an objective failure last year (Basketball Breakdown just did a really great piece on this). It's a pairing that didn't work, nor will it ever.

That in itself should start trade chatter. But in a weird way, the 76ers great fortune over the past months makes a trade more imminent. Joel Embiid will command front court minutes. All reports indicate that Dario Saric is served best as a small-ball power forward. The same holds true for likely first overall selection, Ben Simmons.

Clearly, the 76ers need to move one of their big men, and Okafor is the most logical candidate. What's not clear is who else besides the Boston Celtics would be interested in his services. Okafor is immensely talented, but he's a poor fit for just about every lottery team:

The Suns allegedly have the hots for Dragan Bender. Wolves? Towns. Pelicans? Davis. Nuggets? Nurkic. Raptors? Valancunias. Kings? Boogie. Bucks? Monroe. Magic? Vucevic. Jazz? Gobert, Favors. Bulls? It depends on free agency.

While Okafor might represent an upgrade for some of those teams, I don't think it's enough to make a team want to surrender a lottery pick. The opportunity cost is too high. And if they're not willing to give up a lottery pick, why should the Celtics be so willing? Who are we bidding against?

Okafor is an incredibly talented, and unique offensive player. While he's failed to impress defensively, he's still only 20 years old and spent the bulk of last season playing out of position under unusual circumstances. But while he may be more valuable to this team than any other player available at the #3 spot, I wonder if it's necessary to surrender that pick.

MattDotRich 5/23/2016 03:10:00 PM Edit
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