Wow, just really excited for this whole Atlantic division. Hopefully it’ll at least mean the ‘Bockers get a few more easy wins to pad that franchise-worst record.
I did want to put the Sixers a little higher. I had hoped that when the Lakers selected D’Angelo Russell Sam Hinkie would keep up the Hink-fest and take the player with the highest upside off the board, especially if that player was three years away from competing and they could continue their endless spiral to nowhere. Instead, Philly took the most NBA ready player in the draft and robbed the Knicks of a near-perfect fit for the triangle. Whatever, I’m over it; Zinger Nation taking the game over.
But anyway, I am very curious to see how Okafor will mesh with Nerlens Noel. Nerlens was very impressive towards the end of last season, helping the Sixers become a top 5 defense and transforming into a serious force in whatever little pick-and-roll offense they could muster. In theory, he should more than be able to compensate for Okafor’s projected shortcomings on the defensive end of the court, though it’s also likely that Coach Brett Brown will spend a large chunk of the season trying to figure out the spacing issues that occur when the two share the floor as neither can hit a jump shot outside of ten feet (STAUSKAS!!). Regardless, in a guard dominated league, I’m very excited to see a young team building itself from the frontcourt-out, especially considering Okafor will likely get at least fifteen post touches a game and a solid chance to win himself some Rookie of the Year hardware.
Yup, all of that sounds cool. And I did originally have the Sixers a few spots higher up on this list. Then I started thinking about what this team’s second unit would look like. Or how this team would try to score the basketball if Okafor had to miss any time. Or the fact that Zach Lowe had Tom Haberstroh on his podcast the other day and both of them laughed when they were asked to speculate what this team’s starting lineup would be. Yeah, the NBA.com roster page is something out of a basketball fan’s nightmare. Okafor is still in a suit and tie. Two players are suited in practice clothing as they have yet to play a minute for Philadelphia. 6 of them have no picture!! And Joel Embiid will not be playing this season. Yeesh.
For a team that has been purposely tanking for so long, it’s almost amazing how few foundational players they have to show for it. Noel was good last year, but Michael Carter-Williams’ rough transition to Milwaukee should show us how many grains of salt to take with that kind of “good player on a terrible team” performance. Okafor projects to be pretty good maybe? Embiid hasn’t played a single minute. Robert Covington had a great season shooting the 3 last year; if he can continue that I guess he’s an NBA role player? Tony Wroten has a sweet highlight mixtape? THIS OFFENSE WAS DEAD-LAST IN THE NBA LAST YEAR COME ON!!
There’s definitely a bigger conversation to be had here about the efficacy of just bottoming out season after season, but I’m not going to go into that right now. Maybe hit me up on the gmail and we can rap real-talk fan to fan. But Really, I’m putting this team up here because I’m going to be very intrigued rooting for/against Okafor and seeing if this team can finally get on the path to some respectability. And the only problem with all of that? This is going to get ugly.