The Future Centerpiece of the 76’ers



Its certain to say that the Philadelphia 76’ers are at a crossroads that will determine not only the franchises overall class and skill level for the next decade, but wether or not the abomination that this team as slowly morphed into and stayed in form as, will have to reconsider rebranding or even the slim possibility of moving, due to level of disrespect they have showed Philly Fans over the last few years.

Most would assume that the biggest questions would be about who they will draft with the number 1 overall pick in this years draft, I believe they have a far more pressing issue that will have longer ramifications, either good or bad, their center. The Sixers have three centers, but only 2 options: Jahlil Okafor, an old school advanced footwork inside scoring center, Nerlens Noel an athletic rebounding big man, and Joel Embiid, a diamond in the rough fighting off a heinous injury.

While most fans would immediately cast their vote for Okafor, the number 3 pick in last years draft, I’m going to tell you why you’d be dead wrong to do so; the first and foremost reason to NOT bet on Okafor becoming the franchise center of Philly’s NBA team is simple, he does not want to be in Philly. Dan Feldman of NBC sports, along with several other journalists, reported that Okafor himself and his camp desperately did not want him to fall for the Sixers for numerous rumored reasons ranging from the small market, lack of talent on the roster, and the most obvious, they stink; to couple with this Okafor has had multiple off the court issues that I blame on the lack of enthusiasm of his current profession as a Sixer.

The Sixers would be disrespecting their own franchise if they didn’t shop Okafor for a first round pick, due to the fact that Okafor most certainly is not looking to stay in Philly for any extended amount of time, Okafor averaged 17.5 points a game shooting over 50% in his rookie season and has by far the highest trade cache of anyone on the Sixers roster. Their second option as a franchise center is Nerlens Noel, the sixth pick of 2016 by the New Orleans Pelicans, who averaged 11 points and 8 rebounds for the Sixers this year despite playing out of position at the 4 spot. Unlike Okafor, the 76ers should hold on to Noel for as long as they possibly can, he’s an athletic big man that some have referred to as a poor man’s Dwight Howard with a flattop; due to Joel’s devastating injury, it’s too soon to turn the starting 5 position over to him when you have Noel ready and willing. This brings us to the pièce de résistance, Joel Embiid, a versitile and extremely coordinated big, was the 3rd overall pick in the 2014 draft; but has yet to truely begin his NBA career due to a foot injury. Joel has been compared to greats such as Tim Duncan and Olajuwon, accurately I might add; at 7 foot, 250, with a 7 and a half foot wingspan, the ability to run the floor, block shots, grab boards, handle himself in the post with quick feet, even step out of the paint with his jump shot, averaging 19.4 points, 14 rebounds, and 4.5 blocks per 40 minutes at Kansas, Embiid has the ability to become the new prototypical center in today’s NBA with one very large IF factor. He just hasn’t been able to stay healthy, only playing 3 games in his college career for longer than 30 minutes, while still being named the Big 12’s defensive player of the year I might add, but its a huge problem and really the ONLY downside he has.

If the Sixers want to redeem themselves they have to take at least a small risk, trade the disgruntled and one dimensional Okafor, and hold on to Nerlens until the prodigal son can return to health and give Philly basketball fans something to be truly proud of. Joel is rumored to be playing for the 76’ers at summer league according to Philadelphia.

About Aaron Davis

Aaron is a staff writer and the Co-Founder of NBALEAD. He has been following the NBA for over 15 years. Graduated from Purdue University.

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