Who would have thought — while some teams in today’s NBA landscape don’t have one — that three true centers, all recent high draft picks, on one team, would be a bad idea?
The answer is painfully obviously.
The maligned former 76ers GM is gone, but his hi-jinks are not.
Hinkie flipped Jrue Holiday for Nerlens Noel. Then he drafted Joel Embiid with the third pick. Then drafted Jahlil Okafor with the third pick.
All are legitimate centers, all come with some intrigue. Noel could at some point be a killer role player on a great team, think Tyson Chandler-2011 Mavs.
Okafor, although his stats have dropped a concerning amount in his second season, is still only 21 and has an impressive arsenal. He’s got the big-hands-wave-the-ball-around-on-the-low-block-thing that Shaq used to do.
Embiid, in the first sample size of his career, looks like he has the chance to be a very special player. His per-36 numbers (he’s playing 24 right now) are a projected 27 and 11.
They are all good, but clearly not all good together. This was a projected problem when they took Okafor last year. This was a projected problem when they took Embiid. This was a projected problem during this year’s draft, when the newly-GMed Colangelos were frantically trying to unload Noel. This was not something we didn’t see coming.
Everyone saw it coming. And now it’s a problem.
Noel is going to get screwed the hardest, probably because his game is the least sexy. His season is only two games old, but he has seen the court for a total of 18 minutes.
After last game, in which he logged eight minutes, he freaked out and said get me the fuck out of here, this place sucks. I’m better than eight minutes.
That’s not the exact quote, but you get it. Here is how Colangelo responded (Via Chris Crouse of hooprumors.com, originally tweeted out by Derek Bodner):
Colangelo believes the root of the logjam in the frontcourt has been the health of Noel, Jahlil Okafor and Joel Embiid. “I don’t think we’ve been at a point where we could actively pursue a trade with any of the centers,” the GM said. He added that the team is “fascinated” with the Noel-Embiid combination.
I don’t understand this type of thinking. This is supposed to be the time frame when the team starts getting competent. Or at least the time frame when an idea, or a blueprint, starts to materialize.
The 76ers — regardless of who is involved — appear to be existing in a time warp, where 10 win seasons come and go without expectation or hope, where Sam Hinkie is laughing nonsensically holding a crackpipe in the basement of the Wells Fargo Center forever.
When will it be time to start winning? When will 17-65 no longer be acceptable? When is the right time to stop screwing with the psyches of 22-year-olds who have no NBA self-worth?
Will it be 2018? 19? When they’ve pedaled through four more top-five picks; decided Ben Simmons isn’t the answer?
The sooner they move on Noel, and allow Noel to move on from NBA Hell, the sooner they will be able to look at their future with some honest assessment.
Even when the big man was paramount — the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s — there has never been a title team with three marquee centers.
Are we supposed to believe this mess will produce the first?
The 76ers just might be arrogant enough to think so.