Sixers Mailbag #1 – Furkan Korkmaz update, draft prospects, and more

Updated: Thursday, February 9, 2017 06:32 AM

In the past, both at Philadelphia magazine and Liberty Ballers, I’ve done weekly Sixers mailbags. I’m going to start that column back up here.

We’ll jump right into it.

“What are some realistic trade possibilities you’d consider for Jah?”

— Egan (@pinchmysquid)

Great trade! Who’d we get?

In all seriousness, I think we’re talking about taking the best trade available, which doesn’t help the Sixers’ bargaining position. At this point I think you have to get yourself out of the mindset that Okafor was the 3rd overall pick in 2015, recoup whatever value you can, and move on, and move on relatively quickly.

I just don’t think you can expect to keep all 3 of Okafor, Noel, and Holmes happy and engaged for too much longer. Could you push this out to the draft and see if an offer is better then? Maaaaaaaaybe. But when Brett Brown and Bryan Colangelo regularly refer to doing so as “an extreme challenge”, that should indicate just how difficult doing so would be, because admitting so publicly doesn’t help his position at all.

What exactly that means, I’m not sure. But if you get a top-10 protected 1st round pick, even in 2018, I think you jump at that. The fact that the Sixers appear to be more willing to accept a future draft pick rather than requiring current, NBA players as a form of compensation is something I view as a great development.

“If we get 3 & 4 – assuming Fultz/Ball are gone – who would you take for the Sixers?”

— Future (@vinfosh)

I get a lot of these questions. “You have these two picks, these players are gone, who do you take?” While I understand the interest, that’s basically asking for my draft board. Rather than answer such a question in a mailbag, I’ll do instead do that by releasing a draft board (eventually).

I will list out some of the top options I like, in no particular order:

Josh Jackson: elite playmaker and perimeter defender, can defend multiple spots, and isn’t a non-scorer at all. The shooting will be a big question mark — he’s currently up to 35.5% from 3 after a hot stretch the last two weeks, but I don’t really trust it at this stage — but he’s one of the best overall talents in this draft.

Dennis Smith Jr: elite athlete, has shot the ball better than I expected (38.5% from three, 72.2% from the line). Still makes some, um, questionable (RE: bad) decisions and isn’t much of a defender, either in physical profile (6’3″ wingspan) or in intensity/focus. He’s probably one of the more high variance prospects at the top of the draft. If he can continue to do what he does great (create off the dribble and get to the paint, turn the corner on a pick and roll) in the NBA, he could be really good. If he struggles then his weaknesses can become even more pronounced.

Malik Monk: incredible catch and shoot player. Nice little one/two dribble pull-up game. Good athleticism. His lack of shot creation for others and inconsistent defense would drive me insane in other years, but he’s elite at a skill set that’s incredibly important for both Simmons and Embiid to reach their full potential.

Jonathan Isaac: Just a good all-around basketballer, a two-way forward who can defend multiple spots, force turnovers, hit open shots, and make good decisions with the basketball, which is the combination of skills you’d want in a combo forward playing next to Ben Simmons. I’d love to see him be a little bit more assertive offensively, as he’s more than willing to defer to Dwayne Bacon and take a back seat offensively, but there’s a ton of growth potential there as a shot creator, in my opinion.

“If Embiid missed 1yr (instead of 2), how would that change ’15/’16 draft and would Hinkie still be GM? Is Embiid + Porzingis better than Embiid + Simmons?”

— Andrew Nguyen (@andrewmnguyen)

I’ll start with the easiest part of this question: yes, if Joel Embiid were healthy last year and showing this kind of potential, Sam Hinkie would still be the GM. I don’t think this is particularly debatable.

What happens in the ’15 draft? That’s a little bit tougher, but only a little bit. This is speculation, but I can’t imagine Hinkie taking Okafor if Embiid were healthy, a more bankable part of your future, and showing the kind of all-around dominance he’s shown this year. I think the fact that Hinkie said after the 2015 draft that he “would like to think he’d have the courage” (paraphrasing) to still take Okafor if Embiid had been healthy but that he “couldn’t un-know what he knew” were pretty clear admissions, a phrasing, even hedged, that you don’t normally hear him make.

The question then comes down to whether or not Porzingis would have been the selection. I’ve speculated pretty frequently over whether or not, just a few months after trading Rookie of the Year winner Michael Carter-Williams, whether they had the freedom from ownership to take another player who they weren’t sure would contribute immediately, to push the return on yet another important decision out to years in the future.

That is, of course, somewhat silly, as since we all know rookies don’t (usually) make big impacts anyway and Porzingis ended up exceeding all expectations as a rookie. But ownership/management (across the league) make silly decisions all the time, and managing their expectations and desires is a very really part of being an NBA general manager.

As the ownership group showed just a few months later in December, they did want to see “progress” start to show from the rebuilding efforts, and it’s not crazy to think that desire was there in June 2015 as well. But in this scenario where Embiid’s healthy and the progress of the rebuild looks drastically different, I’m going to say they’d have the rope needed to take Porzingis, but nobody in the organization has actually told me what their draft board looks like and whether he’s the direction they would have gone, so I have no way of knowing for sure.

Is Porzingis a better prospect than Simmons? That’s something I’ve gone back and forth on quite a bit over the last few months. Porzingis has kind of struggled here over the last month, thanks mostly to an Achilles injury that has limited both his time and effectiveness, but prior to that he had made a huge jump in year 2 from his already-lofty year 1 standards. They’re so very different players that this is a hard comparison to make, but when you start to factor in fit, I think it becomes relatively easy. Porzingis fits with Embiid perfectly. His shooting makes Embiid better, and Embiid’s ability to draw defenders down low and command attention on the pick and roll would make Porzingis better, and Embiid’s presence defensively would help Porzingis overcome some of his rebounding struggles. I’d go with Porzingis/Embiid.

The good news (or bad news, depending on perspective) is I don’t think you’d have to actually make it an either/or, because I don’t think Porzingis, as a rookie, with his second half struggles, make up the 7 game difference between the 10-72 Sixers and the 17-65 Lakers, so you probably have the exact same lottery ball combinations heading into the lottery and end up with a Simmons/Porzingis/Embiid front line.

“What have you seen from Simmons’ career when he plays off-ball? Or rather, can he play with another pass-first PG?”

— Samuel Kim (@pickleSAM)

I’ve seen Simmons come back and get the ball.

Seriously, at this stage (at least based on his play at LSU), doesn’t offer much off the ball. He might some day, he certainly has the size and athleticism to cut off the ball and should be capable of setting good screens, but that’s not his instinct right now, and when you combine that with a jump shot that nobody respects, he’s not a good off-the-ball player.

The good thing is I don’t think that necessarily means a pass-first point guard can’t work, as long as said point guard is a good spot-up shooter as well. Lonzo Ball might be the perfect example of this, as Ball would help the transition game, be a capable spot-up shooter, and not get in Simmons’ way when Simmons start running the shot in the half court. There’s also a thing to be said for secondary playmaking, to have a player with the skills to attack a defense after a Simmons/Embiid pick and roll draws that initial help rotation.

I very rarely look at playmaking and passing as something that you can ever have too much of, as long as it doesn’t come at the expense of other skills needed to be successful when Simmons is creating.

“If the Bulls are interested in Okafor, why has a deal not gotten done and what could we get?”

— Bill Hayes (@BillJHayes)

As you’re now seeing with the Pelicans, the first offer received isn’t necessarily the last offer Colangelo will get. I get that we’ve had this trade looming in the background for the last 12 months, but waiting out these last two weeks isn’t going to hurt anyone.

“Can Dario play the five if Embid/Noel/Jah out?”

— George Freeth (@GeorgeFreeth)

Not really, no. He’s undersized, would struggle with post scorers, would probably struggle on the defensive glass as the only true big, and certainly doesn’t offer the kind of rim protection you’d want. I think the better center, for very short stretches, would be Ben Simmons, and seeing him push the ball in transition and forcing the kind of crossmatches which would be inevitable when he’s guarded by a center who can’t keep up would be interesting.

“Who would give the Rookie of the Year award to other than Embiid?”

— Parth (@parth0786)

My gut instinct would be to go and really try to determine who has had the second best rookie season. The reality is I should probably just pick the second highest scorer, since that’s what this award usually goes to, and this is one instance where I think Dario Saric’s lack of efficiency probably doesn’t play a role in determining whether he’d win the award. So I’ll go with Saric, but I’d probably say Malcolm Brogdon deserves it.

“Chances Ersan, Sergio, Richaun, and Okafor are on team post deadline?”

— BFC (@BusinessFCasual)

Ilyasova: high. I think Colangelo really wants him here beyond this season. It makes sense to pursue a trade — Ilyasova’s next contract scares the crap out of me, get value while you can — but I think Colangelo wants to keep him.

Sergio: high. I just don’t think there’s much demand league-wide for him, and the Sixers really don’t have a backup point guard.

Holmes: high. There’s some interest league-wide for Holmes, but the Sixers like him.

Okafor: low. I’d be pretty surprised if Okafor isn’t moved. That doesn’t mean Noel will necessarily stay, he very well may be moved as well, but I think Okafor’s chances of being dealt are perhaps the highest.

“How’s Furkan (Korkmaz) looking in Euroball?”

— TTP (@henryonhold)

His playing time for Banvit has been much more consistent than it had been for Efes over the past two seasons, and he’s shooting about 41% from three in combined play. He’s struggled a little bit to finish in the paint of late, but he’s looked good, and has been showing off a little bit more of his playmaking potential recently as well.


Derek Bodner

Derek Bodner is a credentialed reporter covering the Philadelphia 76ers independently for He is also a college basketball scout for, and an NBA contributor for The Ringer. Contact Information: / @DerekBodnerNBA

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  • Niels Rosenquist

    Nice piece Derek. One additional question I have relates to the issue of roster slots. At what point do the draft assets + current roster “keepers” exceed the number of roster slots? Put another way, at what point would the Sixers be incentivized to package picks to get a solid to great player given their roster? My guess would be that they are at least a year away from a numbers crunch (and being good enough to warrant going for a veteran) but I’d be curious for your thoughts.

    • David Talone

      Remember that next year we will also have 2 two-way contracts with the D league, although it is unclear if 2nd rounders will be eligible for such contracts. I would imagine that most Sixer 2nd round picks from here on will be that or Euro-stashes.

      That said, I can imagine there being somewhat of a crunch next season. If we get two lottery picks, plus I believe Korkmaz wants to come over as soon as possible, plus one big name or medium name free agent. Those are 4 spots that have to be cleared. We can easily lose one big man without replacing him, and Randle and Stauskas are expendable as well and the sooner we lose Sergio the better, but after that it already starts getting tough. They could not pick up Henderson’s option year, but he has been a valuable vet on a good contract. I’d love to move on from Ily, but BC seems to love him.

      I imagine that BC goes after big names this summer both in RFA (KCP and Porter) as well as in UFA (Lowry, Jrue, Patty Mills) this summer. We will still most likely have cap space the following summer, but Embiid will be extended this October for a 25% max and Covington will come due if we haven’t extended him.

      • Niels Rosenquist

        Those are great points, David. I really hope BC does not go after anyone this summer. While Jrue might be a good fit and having him back would be a fitting end to this stage of the rebuild, most of those other guys are going to have little incentive to leave for anything less than monster offers; offers which I don’t think are in the Sixers best interests. I would much rather extend Nerlens and Covington who I think are betters values on paper and also add to continuity to the franchise.

        • David Talone

          Agreed on Cov and Noel.

          I don’t mind Jrue because he is still young enough (27) that you wouldn’t be paying for his declining years. I hate the idea of Mills for that very reason – he is a great fit but 2 years older and short pgs don’t age well. KCP and Porter are both great fits in terms of age (23/24) but will likely be matched. I hate Lowry as well for the age reasons, and the fact that he will command a max deal (at age 31!)

  • SJJim

    Love this mailbag, and let the great Sixers writing continue! Regarding the upcoming deadline, I’m genuinely puzzled as to why Ilyasova isn’t being shopped more heavily. He’d be a really nice off-the-bench scorer on a contending team, and I don’t see the logic in keeping him this season (since he’ll inflate the win total, even if by just a bit) and especially beyond (since he’d be grabbing minutes away from Simmons and Saric).

  • Adamnb87

    Derek – glad to see you brought back the Sixers Mailbag. The more you tweet re: Sixers and the more content you publish the better for us die-hard fans. #Godner

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