Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Do you Trust the Process?

There once was a GM who lived in a shoe, he had so many bigs he didn't know what to do!!!

Like many a Sixer fan who have been part of The Process for the past several years, it seems the team has finally reached a precipitous point in their processing.  For all of the stellar play of Joel Embiid and Dario Saric this season, the odd man that appears to be left out is Jahill Okafor.  Since trading Jeremi Grant for Eyrsan Ilyasova, the majority of the power forward minutes have gone to Ilyasova and Saric.  Whereas the minutes at the center position (barring injury or rest) have gone to Embiid and Noel.  With these young bigs finally getting some minutes together we have begun to see The Process begin to take form.  This is all without the #1 overall pick Ben Simmons playing one minute.

So you may ask yourself, why have I heard such disparaging chatter about Okafor lately?  Is he really THAT bad?  All of the uber-metrics say he can not rebound or block shots.    I thought he was the best big in college when Duke cruised to a national championship his freshman year? What happened?

Joel "The Process" Embiid happened.  The Hinkie Chosen One.  The man who will bring respect back to Philadelphia basketball.  This season  he has gone up against some of the biggest players in the league and has BARBECUE SANDWICHED THEM.  He proved he can not only handle bigs, but with a new three point shot added to his arsenal the big man has flashed transcendent greatness.

All of this greatness sandwiched in-between nights resting back to back games while both Okafor and Noel worked themselves back from knee injuries to start the season.  All of this without Ben Simmons not playing in one game.  All of this while another European rookie has begun making an impact at the stretch 4 in Dario Saric.  All of this while the Sixers await two possible lottery picks next season.  All of this while a 21 year old Jahill Okafor sits third on the center depth chart behind Embiid and Noel.   The twitter-verse has been pining for an Okafor trade for the better half of two seasons now.  Should Colangelo give up on a kid who could be a junior at Duke right now, absolutely destroying collegiate basketball?  Should he begin to dismantle the once impenetrable Process?  Should he flip the #3 overall pick for a few spare parts and MORE draft picks?  One glance at the Sixers payroll and the answer becomes clear:

With the entire Process Core still on their rookie contracts and tons of cap space for the future, the idea of flipping Okafor for more picks seems counter productive at this point.  Here is a list of the Sixers picks the next three seasons:

-2017 Lakers 1st (top 3 protected- if not, 2018 unprotected)
-2017 1st (right to swap with Kings)
-2017 2nd
-2017 2nd
-2018 1st
-2018 2nd
-2019 Kings 1st (unprotected)
-2019 1st
-2019 2nd

More picks is not the answer.  Neither is packaging Okafor with draft picks to bring in a superstar.  The Sixers salary cap is primed for them to max out Embiid, Noel, Simmons, and perhaps 1 or 2 more top picks in the coming years.  No need to rush greatness.  Philly fans have had a taste and are foaming at the mouth for more.  For Sixers brass to bring in a max player now would not only disrupt the growth of the young guns but also eat up the cap space that took years to set up.

What would benefit the Sixers and Okafor's new suitors would be an even swap, someone with a similar salary and possibly from the same draft class.  Perhaps another lottery pick who hasn't flourished on their current team either, someone looking for a fresh start.  A young guy who is willing to buy in what Brett Brown is teaching, someone who is in it for the long haul.  Recent reports would tell you that Okafor's value has plummeted and after two trades (Plumlee and Cousins), and that there isn't much out there right now.  Not a problem.  He is still under contract for 3 more years.  There's no need to pull the trigger if the deal just isn't there, teams will be calling this summer leading up to one of the best draft classes in a decade.

If Bryan Colangelo can find a nice young guard in exchange for Okafor then make the even swap, if not let the Process continue to develop and watch the foundation of a blossoming big man squadron that is bound to give the Eastern Conference trouble for the next decade.  That is, if they can all get on the court at the same time.

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