Sixers decision to trade Nerlens Noel may seem questionable, but was absolutely the right call


IT’S HAPPENING. The Sixers have long been in a logjam at center but with all the commotion surrounding the future of Jahlil Okafor, many seemed to forget about the possibility of moving on from former Kentucky Center, Nerlens Noel.

According to Adrian Wojnoarowski, the Sixers are trading away the big man to Dallas, in exchange for Justin Anderson, Andrew Bogut and a first round pick.

The moves comes as a shock after Noel’s 8.9 ppg and 5 rebounds per game helped the Sixers through a crucial January stretch, while Okafor’s inclusion in the team began to drop. Noel had become the first reserve center on the depth chart with Okafor’s demotion and while moving on from Okafor is more logical, the market simply didn’t appear to be there as we quickly learned.

Why was Noel the Center that many wanted to retain? The 6’11 defensive monster has taken a huge leap Offensively..which was previously an area of concern. 16.4 points and 9.2 rebounds per 36-minutes may not scream a shocking jump..but making 61% of his field goals certainly does. His midrange jump shot has dramatically improved after an inefficient 2015 and he’s simply making more of less opportunities. If the Sixers were going to trade Noel over Okafor, there had to be means of justification…and there was.


Mr Anderson:
Anderson was drafted by Dallas with their first round pick one season ago but has struggled since breaking into the NBA. A strong end to his rookie campaign was not continued into this season, with the shooting guard seeing a lack of playing time. The Virginia product has been sporadic, shooting just 31% from 3-point range and average 4.5 points per game since the start of 2017. He’s averaged 7.2 points per game over the course of the season. However still on a rookie deal, he makes plenty of sense as a low-risk, high-reward piece moving forward.


The replacement:
Also included in the deal, is Andrew Bogut. The veteran Australian has been rumored to be on the trade block for some time now. The 32-year old rebounder is most recently known for his championship run with the Golden State Warriors, before signing with Dallas during the offseason. The inclusion of Bogut adds an elite rebounder who simply hasn’t seen the minutes he expected in Dallas. Replacing Noel’s efficiency with someone who has shone throughout his career and even at 32, is averaging a career high in rebounds per game.


The Pick:
The Draft pick is said to be protected 1-to-18 in the upcoming NBA Draft, giving the Sixers even more assets heading into what could be the most loaded draft in recent history. With the memorable “pick swap” fresh in everybody’s minds after the Boogie Cousins trade, the next few years will see the Sixers have a heavy presence in the opening round of the Draft. The process may be over, but shades of Sam Hinkie still bleed their way onto the roster..and the move to trade Noel for a protected pick in such a crucial draft really exemplify that.


The Process:
After failing to find a suitor for Jahlil Okafor and enduring a week of strange decisions, the Sixers front office finally appear to have made a move that benefits the long-term future of the franchise. It may not have been the move many were expecting, but the team now bring in a second-year player with plenty of upside, a replacement Center who will add a veteran presence and match Noel’s style of play..and of course a first round pick.

The move may debilitate the Sixers from a “playoff” perspective this season, but the team have more pieces to play with and more weapons in their draft arsenal. It was a long wait, but one worth enduring. The logjam has come to an end.


Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports