Throughout the first 21 games of the Sixers season, one thing has become apparent. Noel and Okafor can not play together. During the minutes that Noel and Okafor have been on the court together, the Sixers have a Net Rating of -27.1. I understand that this is a small sample size to come to such an important conclusion, but the numbers don’t lie. Noels’ lack of a jump shot has never been so apparent. Subsequently, his defender has frequently been able to double on Okafor. With an offensive rating of 93.9, the Sixers currently rank last in offensive efficiency and the spacing that Noel fails to create is a main reason why. Noels player efficiency rating of 9.6 ranks third worst on the entire roster. The only Sixers with lower ratings are Hollis Thompson at 9.5, and Nik Stauskas at 9.2. I find this particularly troubling, given the fact that the vast majority of the roster lacks talent that is consistent with rest of the NBA. During a new age of NBA Basketball, where floor spacing and the 3 point shot have become synonymous with winning, building around a player like Noel is not logical.
Short Term Solution
With a plethora of big men in Philadelphia, Hinkie has many options if he were to trade away Nerlens Noel. For the remainder of the season starting Grant at the 4 would be the logical choice. Brett Brown has placed an emphasis on pace, moving forward with Grant at the power forward position would allow the team to play at an even greater pace. Also Grants abillity to shoot the ball from the 3 point line would create more room for Okafor to operate in the post and make it more difficult for opposing teams to double him. Currently the Sixers rank 6th in the NBA in pace, with Noel gone the Sixers pace of play would have a lot of potential to increase.
Long Term Solution
Next season the 76ers will gain an influx in young, long talent. Dario Saric has already announced his plans to come over next season to play in Philadelphia. He is currently playing for Anadolu Efes and having a great year, shooting 53% from the field and 45% from beyond the arc. Saric can do a little bit of everything and could presumably start at the power forward position, taking over for Noel. If you are looking for a player comparision, he will play a similar role to what Draymond Green does for the Warriors. In addition to Saric, the Sixers will get Embiid back from injury. Embiid will play a pivotal role in the Sixers rebuild. He possesses the most superstar potential on the entire Sixers roster. The 7 foot 2 inch center has a smooth shooting stroke to go along with overwhelming physical prowess. With the additions of Saric and Embiid, the loss of Noel will prove to be insignificant. In return for Noel, Hinkie could seek a veteran guard to command the offense, or another 1st round pick to help the Sixers continue to build up their talent base.