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The Blue & Gray Press | May 22, 2017

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76ers present is bleak, but future is bright

76ers present is bleak, but future is bright

By RYAN BRAUCH

Nerlens Noel, Joel Embiid, Dario Saric and Jahlil Okafor are all NBA centers that play for the Philadelphia 76er’s. But the similarities do not end there for these men, as they were all drafted by the Sixers within the last four NBA drafts and all drafted in the lottery. As the struggling Sixers continue to rebuild, there are questions looming about what exactly their plan is for rebuilding. There is no questioning the talent of these four players, but the questions turn to ownership as to why they have produced such a frontcourt heavy roster.

Over the past few years, Philadelphia has made several great moves and have added a lot of talent to their roster. Unfortunately these talented players have not all been together on the court at once. One of the best draft picks in recent Sixer history was Syracuse point guard Michael Carter-Williams in the 2013 draft with the eleventh overall pick.

The current Chicago Bull, Carter-Williams played his first two seasons in the league with Philadelphia and put up some impressive numbers. The Syracuse product averaged 16 points, 6.2 rebounds and 6.7 assists per game with rebuilding Sixers and won the 2014 Rookie of the Year, which was even more impressive coming from the 11th overall pick.

Unfortunately enough, the Sixers traded Carter-Williams away to the Milwaukee Bucks where he continued to play for two seasons. But Carter-Williams was not the first productive point guard that was traded away by Philadelphia, as the franchise also traded Jrue Holiday in exchange for Nerlens Noel on the night of the 2013 draft. Now passing up on two great guards, the Sixers still have no true point guard. In need of an offensive leader, Philadelphia continues to struggle.

A year after drafting Carter-Williams and Noel, the 76er’s took Joel Embiid with the third overall pick in the 2014 draft. Embiid, the foreign star, joined forces with Andrew Wiggins to make a lot of noise in their freshman year at the University of Kansas.

After their freshman year, the two both declared for the NBA draft and both were taken in the top three picks as Wiggins was chosen first overall. But after what seemed like a fantastic pick for the Sixers, unfortunately ended up being a controversial player that would not reap any reward until the 2016 season, as Embiid was sidelined with injury for what should have been the first two years of his career.

Embiid is now proving himself to be a great pick as he has taken the league by storm and has earned the nickname “The Process,” referring to the ongoing rebuilding process of the Sixers. Later in the 2014 draft, the 76er’s picked point guard Elfrid Payton with the tenth overall pick but quickly traded him away for Dario Saric who played overseas until the 2016 season. Despite Saric’s impressive play thus far, the Sixers passed up on another good point guard as Elfrid Payton is now leading the Orlando Magic offense.

Following up with the injury of Embiid and Saric’s decision to stay overseas for a few years, Philadelphia chose to draft Jahlil Okafor with the third overall pick in the 2015 draft. Okafor has been a solid scoring option through his first one and a half seasons in the league.

But now, Okafor and Noel are featured in trade talks with numerous teams and have been rumored to be sent away since the 2016 draft. There were several discussions in which Okafor or Noel could have been sent to Boston to play for the Celtics. Despite all of the trade talks both Noel and Okafor remain on the roster. It would be in Philadelphia’s best interest to trade away one of these big men to get a guard and open up the roster a bit.

Over the past few years, the Sixers have been the joke of the NBA as they have only won 83 out of the last 339 games, 24.5 percent, which dates back to the start of the 2012-2013 season. The Sixers already have two wins this season after the first eleven games and look to improve even more as they await their first overall pick in Ben Simmons to return from injury. With Embiid and Saric playing well, it looks as if Okafor or Noel might be on their way out.

If Philadelphia is able to get a hold of a talented point guard, whether it be through the draft, free agency or a trade, they would be dangerous with Embiid, Simmons and Saric on the floor. This may be the Sixers plan, but until then they have a logjam in their frontcourt.

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