The Philadelphia 76ers have the number one overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, and there is a lot of excitement as to who they are going to select. Right now, it’s between LSU’s Benjamin Simmons or Brandon Ingram of Duke, and everyone wonders which future star is going to end up in Philly. Well, the spotlight has now moved off of the draft, as it is being reported that the 76ers will trade either Nerlens Noel or Jahlil Okafor this offseason.
Everyone thought that Nerlens Noel’s time in Philadelphia was limited after the team drafted Okafor last summer. They held on to both big men for one season, but the time has come for at least one of them to be sent somewhere new.
Okafor had better numbers than Noel in the 2015-2016 season, but there are upsides and downsides to both of them. Even though Noel’s numbers were lower, Okafor played in just 53 games last season, which was a full 14 less than Noel. Both now appear to be fully healthy, and it’s likely that there will be some strong offers for either of them.
As reported by Liberty Ballers, ESPN’s Chad Ford recently did an interview with 97.3 ESPN in South Jersey, and he gave his thoughts on Okafor and Noel being on the same team. He’s pretty sure that one of those big men have played their last game for the 76ers already.
“I think that there’s a very high likelihood, that whether it’s to move up in the draft or use them to grab a free agent in a sign and trade or just to a trade, that you will not see the Nerlens Noel-Jahlil Okafor pairing at the start of next season. I think that they’ll gauge the interest of both players. I think that there might be a slight preference for Noel, to keep him around with the Sixers, and I think you might be right, there might be a slight, better value for Okafor out on the market, but I think everyone agrees that that combination of those two players doesn’t necessarily work.
“The Sixers needs to pick up assets, especially if they’re gonna go ahead and do a Ben Simmons or Brandon Ingram with the first pick in the draft. Then they’re gonna need those assets to start to fill out their backcourt, because the 24th pick and [the 26th pick], you’re not finding starters. I’m not even sure that you’re necessarily finding rotation players at that back end of the draft that are gonna make big impact, so they’re gonna have to do that via free agency or via trade, and I think either Okafor or Noel — I don’t think they’ll trade both — but one of those two is probably their best trade chip.”
While Noel and Okafor are a very strong force to have in the 76ers’ frontcourt, it’s hard to have so much big talent all in one place. Having the number one pick in this year’s draft means bringing in yet another talented big man in Brandon Ingram or Benjamin Simmons, and things are just getting very crowded in Philadelphia.
CSN Philly is quite shocked that it could be Nerlens Noel kept over Jahlil Okafor, even though both are very talented players. One of the biggest things working against Okafor, though, is he has been reported to have quite a bad attitude, and his off-court actions are not exactly exemplary.
Add the fact that Okafor plays extremely similar to Joel Embiid, and it just may be too much of the same thing in one place. If the 76ers end up drafting Benjamin Simmons, it would end up being yet another similar-type player and not enough playing time or space for all of them.
NJ.com spoke of an interview that LSU head basketball coach Johnny Jones recently had in which he spoke of Simmons, Okafor, and Embiid being able to succeed together in Philadelphia. Jones simply said that Simmons is “so versatile” and that the 76ers would “have an opportunity to figure it out.”
— Silver Screen & Roll (@LakersSBN) May 20, 2016
As each day passes, it is seeming more and more like Simmons will end up going first overall in June’s NBA Draft. If he does, the 76ers will have to figure out a way for all of that talent to coexist and play together. Only now, they have to decide if it will be Jahlil Okafor or Nerlens Noel playing with Embiid and Simmons.
The Philadelphia 76ers making a move to break up the combination of Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor isn’t necessarily a new idea. Ever since Okafor was drafted last year, there was a lot of doubt that the two could coexist on the same team. With strong rumors emerging that one of them will be traded, it appears those doubts may be proven. With the number one pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, one of them will likely have to go, but fans must simply wait to see who it will be.
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