Weekly Sixers Roundup: Time to Bench Okafor?

Highlighting this week's Sixers roundup is an article suggesting it's time for Brett Brown to send Jahlil Okafor to the bench.

Both Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor will be out of the lineup when the Sixers take on the New York Knicks in preseason basketball tonight at Madison Square Garden | Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Can Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor play together? That’s going to be an ongoing debate for 76ers fans all season. | Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Every week we’ll collect some of the most interesting stories being written about the Philadelphia 76ers. You can check out previous roundups here.

Much of the focus this week was centered on Jahlil Okafor, including articles both positive and negative about the rookie big man. Should he be benched? Is he hurting the Sixers offense? Is his rebounding improving?

Let’s get started.

First up we have a state of the rebuild article from Alex Kennedy at Basketball Insiders.

“I’ve talked to other executives who wish they could do the same thing, but they can’t because it’s a tough sell to ownership and requires a lot of patience from everyone involved.”

Nylon Calculus put out a rookie watch article where they take a statistical look at how the rookies are performing. They did not have very complimentary things to say about Okafor’s performance so far.

“To put it in another wording: The single best thing that the Philadelphia 76ers, a team full of 2nd round and undrafted fliers, can do to win games, is benching Jahlil Okafor. Between the decision to play, or not play, any player on their roster, that is the move that makes them the most points better than their opponent so far this season. In fact, it’s a 30-point swing over the course of 100 possessions. Terrifying for an early prognosis on a player who was considered the most polished in the 2015 draft class.”

I don’t entirely agree with the usage of on/off splits in this instance, and addressed this in Monday’s mailbag.

Sir Charles in Charge, a Fansided blog, interviewed Frank DiLeo, Sixers scout and brother of former general manager Tony DiLeo. The article mostly focuses on Frank’s early career and the life of an NBA scout, but it provides a rare look at some of the people on the basketball operations side of the team.

“It looks like teams can play “small ball” for periods of time in the NBA but I don’t think the role of the big man will disappear. The traditional low post center is becoming scarce but there are still some good ones out there.” — Frank DiLeo, 76ers scout.

The Sporting News asked scouts about their view of how the top rookies have performed so far. Here’s a scout’s take on Sixers center Jahlil Okafor:

“He started really slow as a rebounder but he was much better the last time I saw him. I think in college he got so many rebounds because of his size, but you have to be smarter and more consistent in your technique at this level. You have to box out with your body, not your arm. He’s getting that.”

Over at Sheridan Hoops, Pete Newmann took a statistical look at improvements (and regressions) the Sixers have made so far this season.

“The Sixers stud rookie is averaging 14.6 points in the paint per game, third in the NBA (Andre Drummond, LeBron James). Okafor provides a go-to scorer on the block. The 76ers leading big man scorer in the paint last season was Nerlens Noel at 7.0 points per game. Six players have played in each of the 76ers 10 games this season and the only one performing at an efficiency above the league average is Okafor.”

At LibertyBallers, Marc Whittington calls for Brett Brown to break up the starters and bench Jahlil Okafor. Some of the defensive numbers with Okafor on the court are staggeringly bad. I’ve cautioned about the use of on/off splits here in the past, but some of it does pass the eye test. I wouldn’t bench Okafor — doing so at 0-12 could come across as scapegoating, and could be a distraction for the team — but limiting the amount of minute they play together might make sense. With Robert Covington coming back, I think it was something that was going to start happening regardless.

Defense with various lineups. Stats for games through November 19th, 2015. Data from LibertyBallers.com

Defense with various lineups. Stats for games through November 19th, 2015. Data from LibertyBallers.com

Mike Sielski wrote an article for the Philadelphia Inquirer talking about the generational divide for those who support what the Sixers vs those who do not.

“More, this younger generation of sports fans/followers has been conditioned to evaluate teams vis-a-vis salary caps and the goal of sustaining success over time – a calculation that, in previous eras, no one had to take into account. In 1976, eight years before the NBA implemented its cap, the Sixers could buy Erving’s contract from the ABA’s New York Nets for whatever sum was necessary ($6 million, as it turned out). “

NBA.com (Scott Howard-Cooper) updated their rookie ladder. Jahlil Okafor stays in that second spot, behind Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns.

“So much for wondering when, or if, he would rebound. Okafor has grabbed 15, seven, six, 12 and 11 boards the last five games, the first time he has broken double digits twice in a row. He is averaging 10.2 rebounds in 33.1 minutes during that five-game stretch to improve to 7.6 rebounds overall, third best in the class. The first game against the Timberwolves — Okafor vs. Towns — is Monday in Minneapolis (8 p.m. ET, NBA League Pass).”

The Sixers have a lot invested in the 2016 NBA draft, with the possibility of having four first round picks, two of which are likely to be in the top-10 in the draft. With that in mind, this article from Jonathan Wasserman at Bleach Report is an excellent guide to get you up to speed on the guys you should be watching.

Podcast: Kyle Neubeck (LibertyBallers) and I reacted to the Pacers game in the latest edition of Sixers Beat. It wasn’t pretty. Also, give a listen to the Rights to Ricky Sanchez, where Spike Eskin (WIP) and Michael Levin (LibertyBallers.com) talk about whether they still trust the process.

Power Rankings:

  • NBA.com/John Schuhmann: Sixers ranked 30th (released November 16th. Previously ranked 29th)
  • CBS Sports.com/Matt Moore: 30th (November 16th. Previous: 27th)
  • Bleacher Report/Grant Hughes: 30th (November 20th. Previous: 30th)
  • Sports Illustrated/Jeremy Woo: 30th (November 16th. Previous: 30th)
  • ESPN/Marc Stein: 30th (November 16th. Previous: 29th)

Derek Bodner covers the 76ers for Philadelphia magazine’s new Sixers Post. Follow @DerekBodnerNBA on Twitter.