Weekly Roundup: Okafor and Noel Struggling Together

In this week's Sixers Roundup, we take a look at whether Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor can play well off of each other.

How well Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor fit on the court together has been a popular topic of conversation early on in the Sixers season | Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

How well Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor fit on the court together has been a popular topic of conversation early on in the Sixers 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.

This week we have updates on the Joel Embiid injury, deep dives on how Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel are working together, a video review on Ben Simmons, and how much of a burden Okafor is currently carrying.

Let’s get started.

First up, we have a pretty interesting piece from ESPN which talks about Okafor’s transition to the NBA, and the burden has to carry for the franchise:

“Afterward, Okafor shuffles to the bench and plops down next to another assistant. This one has a computer open to video from the previous game, a 34-point loss to the Wizards in which Okafor tallied 12 points in 17 minutes but didn’t get to the free throw line. The screen reads, “Jahlil Okafor Effort.” Okafor exhales deeply. (The assistant tracked 23 of Okafor’s plays against the Wizards, rating Okafor’s quickness to transition from offense to defense, from defense to offense; he’s looking for baseline-to-baseline hustle. He wants to see how Okafor executes when he’s fresh, when he’s tired. The assistant runs the first play.”

David Aldridge at NBA.com gives an update on Joel Embiid’s injury, as well Okafor and Noel’s progress, and the upcoming 2016 draft.

“Now, it’s likely the Sixers won’t have or use all four firsts. For the sake of argument, say they only wind up with their own (or Sacramento’s) first-rounder, and the Lakers’ first-rounder. If — if — Saric decides he wants to start his NBA clock as soon as possible (and get to his second NBA contract as soon as possible) and comes over, and Embiid is finally ready next season, and the 76ers add two high first-rounders to that mix, they could open next season with as many as seven Lottery picks on the roster — Embiid, Saric, the two ’16 firsts, Okafor, Noel and Stauskas.

Is that worth three years of utter agony?”

Speaking of the NBA draft, Ricky O’Donnell over at SB Nation broke down Ben Simmons’ game. He’s fun.

“That’s not a pass a power forward should be able to make. It’s in a tight window and off the dribble, with little margin for error. Simmons, with the help of LSU’s other players occupying attention, makes it look effortless.”

Zach Lowe had David Thorpe on his podcast, where they talked about the Okafor/Noel pairing. Thorpe is a fan and thinks it could still work. (Tune in at ~48 minute mark for the Sixers talk).

More on the Okafor/Noel pairing, Chad Ford and Kevin Pelton speculated on whether Okafor could be trade bait down the line. While it’s still a little early for that, the analysis on how the two are working, and whether they could work long-term, was first rate.

“Obviously there are some physical limitations that put a ceiling on Okafor’s defensive prowess. He’s not particularly explosive athletically, which hinders both his lateral and vertical speed. And rebounding has never been his forte.

However, I have had several GMs who have drafted young Duke players tell me that the learning curve between the sort of defense Coach K teaches at Duke and what they’re required to play at the NBA level is pretty steep.”

Also from ESPN, this time from Zach Lowe again, Zach talks about how getting the ball into the post is tough, largely thanks to rule changes made in the modern era. While not directly talking about Jahlil Okafor, this obviously ties in to how the Sixers use him.

“Defenses could stick one guy in front of a post-up brute, one guy behind him to snuff out the lob pass and a third defender nearby just in case that brute spun into some unexpected position. Timofey Mozgov could have been Hakeem Olajuwon trying to post up Iguodala during the Finals, and it wouldn’t have mattered; the Cavs couldn’t even pass him the ball. “If you can’t make an entry pass to a 7-footer posting up my 6-6 guy, then why wouldn’t I go small?” asked Bucks coach Jason Kidd.”

And one more ESPN plug, this time with Kevin Pelton ranking the most valuable draft picks owed throughout the league. Note: this was looking at it through the lens of how valuable it is for the 2016, and only the 2016, draft, so the Lakers pick takes a little bit of a hit just because of the protection, and because there’s a chance it’s not conveyed this year. By this ranking, the Sixers have the 4th, 5th, and 6th most valuable picks due to be owed in the 2016 draft.

“So now Philadelphia holds the rights to a potential top-five pick. Before Sixers fans get alarmed at the relatively low value, remember that we’re ranking picks by their value for the 2016 draft. The pick has great value beyond 2016 because it could still be a high pick in either 2017 or 2018.

With the Lakers mired in the Western Conference cellar, their odds of keeping the pick by having it land in the top three are now nearly 50-50, according to BPI. But the most likely single outcome is the Lakers finishing with the fourth pick and sending it to Philadelphia, which happens in 23 percent of simulations.”

John Gonzalez had SB Nation writer Paul Flannery on The 700 Level to discuss a series of Sixers related topics, including Kristaps Porzingis vs Jahlil Okafor, Okafor + Noel or DeMarcus Cousins, and traveling with Joshua Harris. Watch the video here.

And, finally, the Jahlil Okafor fight outside of a bar in Boston. TMZ has the initial report here. ESPN provided additional context here. I wrote about it here.

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