Jan 16 2014

5-on-5: Noel’s (possible) return, Alliterative All-Stars, and Operation Tank

1. Nerlens Noel is this the most hyped Philadelphia rookie since _____?

Anthony Calabro: I would have to say Evan Turner. As a top-2 pick, Turner was expected to contribute right away. I expect Philly fans will be more patient with Noel due to his injury.

Eric Goldwein: Evan Turner. He wasn’t just a No. 2 pick; he was a college star, making SportsCenter plays for OSU for two seasons. Expectations were high and he wasn’t close to meeting them. For basketball’s sake, let’s hope Noel turns out better.

Marc Nemcik: Michael Carter-Williams. Since his outstanding debut against the Heat, MCW has continued to solidify his spot as the top ROY candidate. Although watching Noel develop will be exciting and refreshing in a rebuilding season, he won’t burst onto the scene like Carter-Williams did.

Tom Sunnergren: …Michael Carter-WIlliams? My first instinct was to tap AI, but MCW, ever since his historic debut against the Heat, has gotten some serious, and deserved, ROY-hype. I expect Noel will be great, but at the moment he’s only the second most interesting rookie on his own team.

Bryan Toporek: Evan Turner. After winning the No. 2 pick in the 2010 lottery, Philly fans (myself included) foresaw greatness for Turner. Unfortunately, he appears to have peaked in college. Four years into his NBA career, he still hasn’t ever posted a league-average PER. Here’s hoping history doesn’t repeat itself with Nerlens.

2. Will Noel interfere with Operation Tank?

Goldwein: The Sixers interior D is so bad that any half-decent defensive big man (like Dewayne Dedmon) could have a positive effect on the team, and thus a negative effect on pingpong balls. Ten or 20 games of a 19-year-old recovering from ACL surgery — who knows how many minutes he’ll get — won’t make a huge difference, but I don’t see it adding anything to the L-column.

Calabro: No I don’t think so. As of today, I expect Noel as the first big off the bench. Brown won’t start him. However, this can change as we get closer to the trade deadline. He’s a much-needed rim protector for the Sixers, but Noel has zero offensive game. I also expect the team to closely monitor his minutes, so his overall impact (this season) will likely be diminished.

Nemcik: I don’t believe so. By the time Noel makes his first appearance Sam Hinkie likely will have poisoned traded Thad Young and/or Spencer Hawes. Although Noel will contribute, he won’t come in and stop the ship from sinking. Let’s not forget that he is quite unpolished on offense and just came off a torn ACL.

Sunnergren: A little. He’ll be an immediate help on the defensive end (dude averaged over 4 blocks and 2 steals every time out at Kentucky, which is just…people aren’t supposed to be able to do that) but he’s super raw on O (I love the Sixers staff, but I have a tough time believing they fixed his jumper in only six months) and is still a teenager. Kevin Pelton projected him to contribute 3.6 WARP before the draft which, prorated, sounds about right to me. That’s not quite enough to swing things one way or the other.

Toporek: That was my gut reaction, but upon further reflection, it’s doubtful. Noel’s presumed return will come right around the trade deadline. Assuming Hinkie ships out at least one of the Hawes-Turner-Young trio, Noel will only stem the bleeding, at best. The tank train should roll on unabated.

3. The Sixers’ regular season is more consequential than the Heat’s. Discuss…

Calabro: Agreed. The Sixers cap flexibilty and willingness to trade Turner/Young/Hawes will have a major impact on the playoff race as we approach the deadline. As for the Sixers themselves, this season will likely have a major impact on the next four or five.

Goldwein: It is, because of the Eastern Conference’s insane win distribution (seven games separate the second and third seeds, and that’s after the Heat’ three-game losing streak) and the tank-worthy 2014 draft class. While homecourt advantage is important, it doesn’t compare to two healthy Dwyane Wade knees and a fully-energized LeBron. (Related: Hollinger’s NBA Playoff Odds have the Eastern Conference’s projected 8-seed Brooklyn Nets winning 35 games, meaning the Heat (27-11) could finish 10-34 and still make the postseason.)

Nemcik: Agreed. The Heat have a top-two seed guaranteed at this point and are just trying to stay healthy. The Sixers want to develop their guys and make their trade assets look more appealing. Most importantly, they need to lose as many games as possible. Half of the teams in the Eastern Conference are attempting to do the same thing, so the Sixers goal actually happens to be a bit more challenging.

Sunnergren: Agreed. Miami, regardless of what happens from here on out, is locked into one of the top-two seeds in the East. Their entire season is about not getting hurt. The Sixers, meanwhile, have a few specific markers to hit: develop MCW into a stud, do the same with Nerlens, find trade partners for the Hawes/Turner/Young troika, and lose a shit-ton of games while doing it. Yeah, I’d say that between now and the end of April, the Sixers have more on the line than Miami.

Toporek: I buy it. The Heat just need to stay healthy. Home-court advantage would be a nice luxury, but isn’t necessary for a title run. For the Sixers, meanwhile, the regular season means valuable experience for MCW, showcasing the trade value of Turner and Hawes, and jockeying for position in the lottery.

4. Your Alliterative All-Stars, in honor of Dewayne Dedmon.

PG: Rajon Rondo
SG: George Gervin
SF: Paul Pierce
PF: Bill Bradley
C: Moses Malone

PG: Jarrett Jack
SG: Joe Johnson
SF: Jumaine Jones
PF: Jared Jeffries
C: Jerome James

PG: Norm Nixon
SG: George Gervin
F: Paul Pierce
F: Bob Boozer
C: Moses Malone

PG: Scott Skiles
SG: Steve Smith
F: Bill Bradley
F: Dale Davis
C: Moses Malone

PG: Rajon Rondo
SG: George Gervin
SF: Paul Pierce
PF: Alvan Adams
C: Moses Malone
Sixth man: Gail Goodrich

5. Three days without Sixers basketball …. did you miss it?

Calabro: I missed Malik Rose. I always miss Malik Rose.

Goldwein: No. This is about as fun a 13-25 team you can have, but it’s still a 13-25 win team. Even wins with last-second Thad Young 3-pointers are painful to watch.

Nemcik: Honestly? No. On the bright side, what they lack in enjoyment now will be made up in a couple of years once Hinkie completes his masterpiece.

Sunnergren: No. I like the team’s assets and I love Sam Hinkie, but no. Not for a nanosecond.

Toporek: Yup. I’ve taken a real liking to actively rooting against winning this year. It beats the hell out of the heartbreak provided by the Eagles a few weeks back, anyway. Nothing makes me happier than seeing the Sixers movin’ on up here. WE’RE COMING FOR YOU, ORLANDO.

  • robbybonfire23

    Good God, how can a player who shot 55 1/2 per cent from the floor his final season in college be said to have ZERO offensive game? You mean to tell me it is already the club’s blueprint to just ace Noel out of its offensive scheme? How many of these tin cup guards we have are shooting 55-56 per cent? Should we ignore bona fide front court shooters to allow these blind as a bat guards to keep throwing up their dozen or so bricks, every game, when we will have an inside man who knows where the net is?

    It is not how much talent and ability you have on your roster, so much as how you deploy it. This could get ugly if the 76ers would rather have the Wroten’s and the MCW’s of the world continue to carry too much of the offensive scoring load, when they have already shown they are not up to that, as yet.

    Give us a break. Just because Kentucky didn’t appreciate Noel’s offensive shooting percentage, doesn’t mean Philadelphia has to display the same ignorance. We want to develop multi-talented players here, or just a bunch of pigeon-holed “role players?” We want to win the NBA title in the next five years, or just “make the playoffs” every year? MCW putting up 15 bricks per game, while Noel is getting five shots per game will relegate this team to mediocrity, forever. Man, what a wake-up call threshold this club has arrived at.

    • ken

      I duno who or why they said noel wont be in the offensive discussion considering all we have heard from the begining of the season to now is how brown has been working with noel to develop post moves and a jump shot so clearly brown is going to want to use noel in the offense to a decent degree

      • robbybonfire23

        I’m with you, Ken. Calabro, above, in point number 2 says that “Noel has zero offensive game.” Right, a 55 1/2 per cent shooter with zero offensive game. (?)

        What you do, whether you are Kentucky or Philadelphia, is get your 55 1/2 per cent shooter the ball, more often, from your guards who can’t shoot above “playground pick-up game” level. I am concerned the 76ers will bypass Noel in their offensive scheme – and a disastrous mistake that would be, at least until we find out what the hell he brings to the offensive mix at the NBA level?

        • Anthony23c

          Hey robbybonfire23…Calabro here: I understand your point about getting Noel the ball, but what’s Noel’s go to move? What’s his counter-move? I think the Sixers wanting to tear down and rebuild Noel’s jumpshot only proves that they drafted him knowing he was very limited on offense.

          Coach Brown is certainly working overtime to improve that one-handed jumper and hook shot, and perhaps in time he can reach that 55.5% number you talked about.

          But I think Noel will intially get his buckets via offense rebounds and putbacks. But I don’t see Brown drawing up plays designed for the young fella or Noel straying too far outside the restricted area.

          • robbybonfire23

            I doubt any college kid shooting 55%+ is going to replicate that level in the NBA. But at least he deserves offensive responsibility at the outset of his NBA career, based upon that percentage.

            My concern is that the 76ers will “DeAndre Jordan” Noel. By that I mean Jordan is a career 64% shooter who is getting SIX shots per game, in the Clippers offensive scheme. The Clippers apparently don’t know that setting up Jordan for 20 shots per game would give them their best shot at reaching and probably winning the finals, which one Western Conference team almost surely is going to do, this season, anyway.

            Another question is: are the 76ers/Brown helping Noel, offensively, with all this re-programing of his basic offensive arsenal, or is the net effect here their simply “messing with his head?” I don’t see it as all that complicated. Just let him do his thing on defense, and consistently get the ball to him inside for high-percentage shots, until he shows he cannot handle that dual role.

            P.S. – I would be rather excited if the 76ers could acquire Jordan in a package for all three forwards we have on the block. That would represent the steal of acquiring one blue chip for two red chips and a white chip – the stuff of which championships are made.