After beating the Suns and hanging with the handicapped Jazz, Philly came up with another win last night against the always dysfunctional Kings. And so, the Sixers are back to being a regular bad team. All it took was reacquiring Ish freakin’ Smith.
Might this (potential) turnaround cost Hinkie/Colangelo ping pong balls? It’s certainly possible; while the Sixers have four fewer Ws than the Lakers and six fewer than the Nets, things can turn quickly.
But that’s not to say that playing better basketball will diminish the aggregate value of their enormous asset collection. Player development — and more importantly, perceived player development — can boost potential trading chips, and that can be the difference in a bidding war. Nerlens Noel, for example, might be the same exact player as he was a week ago, but he looks a lot better catching alley-oops instead of having passes bounce off his stone hands.
On that note, below is the definitive 2015 ranking of the Philadelphia 76ers’ 41 assets. These include players under contract and team control, and draft picks through 2022. The order is determined by who you’d least want to give up in a trade.
1. PHL 2016 1st (rights to Kings swap).
The Sixers started so bad that even if they somehow played .500 the second half of the season, this would still be a good lottery pick. The way the bottom of the standings are shaping up, it’s looking like it’ll be a two-team race with the Lakers. The Sixers are a near lock for top 5 and if the Kings continue sliding, they may have greater than a 25% shot of the first pick. The top prize (as of right now) is LSU freshman Ben Simmons, a point forward with a sky-high ceiling, while Draft Express has SF Brandon Ingram, PF Dragan Bender, PG Kris Dunn, and PF/C Skal Labissiere in the top five. (Please god, not another big man.)
2. Joel Embiid (Team control through 2018-19)
Superstars change everything. You can make every wrong decision, but land a generational talent and all the problems will go away. And that’s the case for Embiid –who will have missed two-plus seasons with injuries — being the Sixers’ second most valuable asset.
If Embiid gets healthy, and that’s a BIG if, he has all the makings of a two-way star. He’s athletic, explosive, enormous (7-foot-2!) and skilled, and that’s with minimal playing experience. Let’s say he has a 30% shot of having a healthy career. That’s about as good a shot of stardom as you’ll find with any draft pick. Outside of established stars and top tier prospects (Ben Simmons, Karl-Anthony Towns), there’s not many assets I’d take over Embiid.
3. Nerlens Noel (Team control through 2017-18)
Noel is the only player on the Sixers roster resembling a “sure thing.” He’s already a plus stealer/rim protector, and he has potential to become an elite defender if he’s not already. Offensively he has struggled, though he’s improved his FT shooting and flashed potential as an efficient player, low-usage player .. particularly when Ish Smith is passing him the ball. Can he ever be the best player on a title team? Doubtful. But with continued development, he has all-star/DPOY potential.
4. PHL 2017 1st (rights to Kings swap)
5. LAL 2016 1st (T-3 through 2017, unprotected after).
Two extremely valuable assets here, but I’ll go with upside, since the LAL pick is protected and most can’t miss prospects aren’t found outside the top 3. I don’t see the Sixers being a No. 1 pick contender next season but things are starting to sour in Sacramento, and if Cousins leaves … jackpot.
6. Jahlil Okafor (Team control through 2019-20)
Set aside the fight and the speeding ticket and the gun incident … Okafor the basketball player has been exactly what we expected. Defensively he has struggled, while offensively he’s shown off his unprecedented post talent but hasn’t actually helped the Sixers score points.
This is normal. Rookies, on the aggregate, don’t help NBA teams win games, especially those with only one year of college experience. And especially centers playing alongside gypsy point guards and offensively limited power forwards. The good news is Okafor’s free throw shooting is up to 72% and he’s been a capable one on one defender. The help defense needs a ton of work but if he can get that sorted out, while expanding his offensive game to add some range, he’ll at the least be an effective starter, and at the most be a perennial all-star.
7. SAC 2018 1st (T-10 protected, unprotected after (I think))
The details of this pick’s protections are complicated but to my understanding it’s unprotected in 2019. The Kings haven’t made the playoffs in a decade and once again look like they’re in disarray.. this potential lotto pick could end up being a top pick, and is already looking like an attractive trading chip.
8. Dario Saric (T-10 protected, unprotected after)
If Saric comes over next season, as he said he would, he’ll be an NBA-ready 22 year old with ROY potential. Now armed with a 3-point shot, the 2014 Draft’s No. 12 pick looks like he’s taken significant strides and could be a dangerous offensive weapon at forward.
9. MIA 2016 1st (T-10 protected, unprotected after)
The Heat are 18-13 — 1.5 games out of the second seed but barely in the playoff picture. Welcome to the 2015-16 Eastern Conference!
Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade are old, and a couple injuries could make Miami a lottery team … and maybe even result in their pick getting protected. And that’d be awesome, because an unprotected 2017 Heat pick has a chance, albeit a small one, of landing the Sixers a superstar.
10. PHL 2018 1st
The Sixers will be a playoff team by 2018. The Sixers will be a playoff team by 2018. The Sixers will be a playoff team by 2018. The Sixers will be a playoff team by 2018. The Sixers will be a playoff team by 2018. The Sixers will be a playoff team by 2018. The Sixers will be a playoff team by 2018. The Sixers will be a playoff team by 2018. The Sixers will be a playoff team by 2018. The Sixers will be a playoff team by 2018. The Sixers will be a playoff team by 2018. The Sixers will be a playoff team by 2018. The Sixers will be a playoff team by 2018. The Sixers will be a playoff team by 2018.
That said, if teams think the Sixers are tanking forever and that this is a ponzi scheme, this pick might have a lot of trade value. But Jerry, before trading this away … remember: always use protection.
11. Jerami Grant (3 years/$2.9M. NG in 2017-18, TO in 18-19)
Grant has quietly been one of the best second-year players — ranking 9th in win shares — and certainly one of the most improved. He’s long, he’s athletic, and more and more he looks like he’s playing in control. Defensively he’s already a helpful player and on offense if he can develop a 3-pointer he’ll be a valuable stretch four for a long time. In a 2014 redraft there’s no way he’d fall out of the first round. He might even sneak into the lottery. Also: great contract!
12. Robert Covington (3 years/$3.1M. NG in 15-16, 16-17; TO in 17-18)
It hasn’t been a good few weeks for RoCo. But when his three is going down, Covington is a floor-spacing forward, capable of guarding multiple positions. Last year he had an Ish Smith-esque impact, helping the Sixers avoid infamy after arriving from the D-League. He’s only 25 and even if development stagnates he’s good enough to get significant minutes on most, if not every team.
13. Richaun Holmes (4 years/$4.2M, $2.1M guaranteed; NG in 17-18, TO in 18-19)
Holmes has been one of the most effective rookies; more than capable defensively and efficient on offense, with a little bit of range. He turned 22 in October, so it’s not a huge surprise he ranks 5th among first-year players in win shares. But it’s nice to have a young, already competent two-way player on a team-friendly four-year deal.
14. PHL 2019 1st
15. PHL 2020 1st
16. PHL 2021 1st
17. PHL 2022 1st
While I’m assuming these are all in the 28-30 range, other GMs might think otherwise.
18. OKC 2016 1st (T-15 in 16, 17; 2nds after. Swap rights with GS).
If Durant and Westbrook are healthy, this probably falls in the 25 range. So .. not great.
19. Ish Smith (1 year/$1.1M)
Sure, the Sixers could’ve scooped him off the waiver wire. And sure, he’s an FA at the end of the season. But if a GM called up Hinkie/Colangelo (?) and asked about Ish Smith, they’d have to give up something of real value. Like .. 3 second round picks. There’s a big enough sample size here to conclude that Ish boosts Noel’s efficiency significantly; that alone makes Smith an important asset, in spite of his expiring deal.
20. JaKarr Sampson (3 years/$2.9M, NG in 15-16, 16-17; TO in 17-18).
A plus, versatile defender with elite athleticism. At 22, he’s shown some improvement offensively .. to the point where he’s not a major liability.
21. Kendall Marshall (4 years/$8M, 2.1M guaranteed; NG from 2016-19)
His first few games as a Sixer were disappointing, though it’s hard to say how much we should attribute that to rust and the situation he’s been put in. Pre-injury, he was a highly effective passer with an ugly but effective 3-point shot, but pretty bad defensively. In other words, a backup point guard. He’s only 24, so even if he merely returns to that level, he’s a good bargain with team options of $2M per year.
22. Nik Stauskas (Team control through 2018-19)
Somewhere in Nik Stauskas is a creative, playmaking shooting guard that can stretch the floor and hold his own defensively. But so far, he’s been a disaster. Year 2 hasn’t gone much better than Year 1 for the former No. 8 pick, and his miserable 3-point shooting (30.4%) is mostly to blame. If he can get that sorted out — and I think he can — he’ll have plenty of time to develop into a valuable rotation player, which at this moment he is certainly not.
23. Christian Wood (4 years/$3.5M, $50K guaranteed).
He’s still here, killing the D-League. Potential!
24. Isaiah Canaan ($1.2M QO in 2016-17)
He’s an elite shooter, and as long as he’s not being played at point guard, he’s a useful player. Limited upside but helpful in short term.
25. Hollis Thompson (2 years/$2M; NG in 2015-16, TO in 16-17).
Competent defender and efficient 3-point shooter but otherwise limited. Still, probably worthy of a roster spot on most teams, especially with cheap contract.
26. T.J. McConnell (4 years/$3.5M, $100K guaranteed).
Like him as a third string PG, and I suspect several GMs would agree.
27. Vasilije Micic (Draft rights held; playing in Serbia).
A 6-foot-5 PG who may or may not ever play in the NBA. But he has the same agent, Misko Raznatovic, as Dario Saric, and that by itself is worth keeping him around.
28. BRK/CLE 2018 2nd (More favorable)
29. MIL/SAC 2019 2nd (More favorable)
30. LAC/NYK 2018 2nd (More favorable)
31. NYK 2019 2nd
32. PHL 2018 2nd
33. BRK 2020 2nd
34. NYK 2020 2nd
35. NYK 2021 2nd
36. PHL 2019 2nd
37. PHL 2020 2nd
38. PHL 2021 2nd
39. PHL 2022 2nd
At least one of those will be the next Draymond Green.
40. Chukwudiebere Maduabum (Draft rights held)
The NBA’s most neutral asset.
41. Carl Landry (2 years/$13M)
While he might be a serviceable backup, his contract makes him a negative asset at this point — that’s why the Kings gave up a 1st and two pick swaps to get rid of him. (Also: they’re dumb and shortsighted). His value should rise as he gets closer to the end of his contract.
* Information is from BasketballInsiders, HoopsHype, Spotrac, RealGM, Basketball Reference. Payroll and contract information not exact. TO = Team option; PO = Player option; QO = Qualifying offer; NG = Non-guaranteed.