The Runner Sports

Sixers Trade Nerlens Noel Hours Before NBA Trade Deadline

The Nerlens Noel storyline in Philadelphia is officially at an end.  On the final hours before the NBA trade deadline, Noel was dealt to the Dallas Mavericks for veteran big man (and former #1 overall pick) Andrew Bogut, as well as 23-year-old shooting guard Justin Anderson, and a conditional protected first-round pick in 2017.  If the Mavs draft 1-18, then that pick becomes a second rounder in 2017 and 2018 for Philly.

This opens up the door for Joel Embiid to continue his stellar, albeit injury riddled, rookie campaign.  The big man is everything the fans in Philly want to see – but, pairing him with Noel proved to be fruitless, as they could never find a solid footing as a big man duo.  The move represents Bryan Colangelo’s first in an attempt to clean up the mess that Sam Hinkie left with before his less than glorious departure from the team.  Was it the right move though?

Pros

The trio of Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor, and Joel Embiid was not working for the organization.  Running with three centers is a recipe for disaster, as evidenced by the Sixers’ resume for the last three seasons.  Transitioning a center to a power forward, especially in such a young player, hurts the team in more ways than one.  Embiid was the clear choice to keep – he has turned a city sick of the NBA and selling tickets for $5 per game (I know because I went to a game in November for $5), into a city excited about their team and hungry for the future that Embiid and Ben Simmons will bring.  While Noel is the better defender and shooter compared to Okafor, Colangelo couldn’t develop any worthwhile interest for Okafor.  So, he pulled the trigger and got something in return, instead of letting Noel hit free agency and getting nothing.

Andrew Bogut is not a long-term option for the Sixers – he knows it, the team knows it, the fans know it.  Speculation was that he would be traded again before the deadline passed, but since that time has come and gone, look for him to be bought out of his contract and sign somewhere new (Cleveland, for instance).

The real question is, can Justin Anderson rebound from his woes with the Mavs and make a name for himself in Philly?  The former first-round draft pick has proven to a have a lot of defensive upside, but is an inconsistent shooter, with a career 40% shooting.  He was praised as a strong defensive guard while at Virginia, and is a big enough guy to block the shooting lane.  Teamed up with the likes of Joel Embiid, he has a great shot at a resurgence in Philly after riding the bench in Dallas.

Cons

The draft pick aspect of this trade doesn’t make as much sense – the Mavs will almost assuredly have a top 18 draft pick.  If the season ended today, they would be 7th – at this point, it is highly unlikely (though not implausible) that they will leapfrog 11 teams.  So, the Sixers will have to plan on having two second-round picks, one of which is currently 37th overall this year – still a spot where talent can be found, but, not fitting in with the typical strategy of a cellar dweller.

As for Nerlens Noel, he will likely have significantly more success in Dallas.  The team is full of veterans who can help mentor him as a player, as well as shooters and fewer big men.  He will be the only center on the floor and will have a supporting cast around himself to better enable his style of play.  He can literally just stand by the hoop and be there for quick shots and rebounds.  What more can you ask of a center?  Defensively, he’ll have support from all fronts, and Rick Carlisle has shown that he can hone a player’s talents.  Noel has a bright future, and most likely a hefty paycheck coming his way in the offseason.

With this trade, the Sixers continue to follow through on the commitments they’ve made to their fans – build a solid team with a good foundation, don’t just draft a player to draft him, and develop the team around the strongest players.  Joel Embiid is certainly the future of this team, provided he doesn’t have any more knee or foot injuries that set his career back.  Ben Simmons, despite not having played in an NBA game, has the look and feel of a guy worthy of the #1 pick in the draft.  Hopefully, by the end of this season, we will see the duo on the floor together.  Dario Saric has blended with the team chemistry well and is the solution at power forward for the foreseeable future; able to keep up with the fast pace of the team and bringing a positive attitude to the locker room.  I, for one, see good things coming to the Sixers in the next few years.

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Alex Lair

Originally from Philadelphia, I've been an avid sports fan for as long as I can remember.I grew up with the heartache that comes from being from Philly and a fan of the local teams.I currently live back in Philly, and I love talking sports with anyone and everyone I can find out here.

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  • The biggest issue I have with this trade is that the 76ers played themselves right out of the value of this trade. Respect for giving these three players extended time to showcase themselves, but Noel could have been such a more valuable trade some months ago (even draft) when it wasn’t so clear he was the odd man out.