Six shots from the Sixers weekend that was: Okafor’s future and unwarranted criticism


What an amazing weekend of listening to everyone complain about Joel Embiids lost step, how Markelle Fultz was shooting left handed and Lonzo Ball being the most shown NBA player in the league. Did anyone else see that Balls younger brother was arrested last week? Has anyone noticed that Jahlil Okafor is still a Sixer? It’s time for another edition of our ‘Six shots’ series.


Unwarranted criticism:
Joel Embiid has, according to apparently everyone with a social media account, slowed down and doesn’t have the spring in
his game that he had last year. I don’t think that anyone has given any thought that Embiid had surgery on March 24th of this year and that he only started practicing with the team in the beginning of October. After only playing in 31 games over the past few years and having surgery within the past 7 months, Embiid seems to be doing a great job averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds in close to 28 minute per game. I get that he hasn’t looked like he did in the 31 games he played last year, but with just over a month of playing, he’s doing well. He’s also going to get better as the year, his health and stamina all move forward. I don’t get the “sky is falling” statements when watching him play. It’s Philly, so I know that we all look at the glass as half-injured, but we should give him the time to get in to even better shape. As his minutes go up, while his stamina and basketball shape improve, you’ll start to see him get more involved, down low and throughout the floor.


The Okafor conundrum:
With Jahlil Okafor just waiting to be dealt, everyone has their opinions on who the Sixers should get, who’s going to be available and who’s the best fit. Bobby Portis in Chicago is the name that everyone has been mentioning. It seems that Portis wouldn’t be available but he did knock out and break the face of one of his teammates. So, why would the Sixers bring someone like that in? They shouldn’t.

The Celtics name keeps coming up since they were interested in him last year, but I can’t see the Sixers sending him to Boston as they would have to face him way too much for the team to stomach if he starts playing really well. The most likely scenario is that he gets sent to the Western Conference and Oklahoma City could use a guy like Okafor. The Lakers could use him, but they’re not going to deal with the Sixers. There could be any number of teams that come calling once injuries and standings start to take a toll on teams, which may play in the Sixers favor, but I still don’t believe that Colangelo can pull off any sort of deal that will make sense for the Sixers. A protected first round pick or two second rounders seems to be the most likely return for Okafor.


Covington’s future:
Two names that may not come up when you’re first thinking of trades being made are Justin Anderson and Robert Covington. Although they’ve been talking about giving Covington an extension this week, it’s not completely out of the question for someone like Colangelo to try to include Covington in a potential deal with Okafor. If the Sixers can find someone that they think will make a difference and fit in with the team, they may look to move another part to get something of value in return. Adding in Okafor and either Covington or Anderson could wind up getting someone of substance from another team. I like Covington. I think that he’s really improved the past two seasons and this year he’s shooting almost 50% from beyond the arc. He’s a great fit for the team and is one of the top defensive player on the team. Anderson has come on strong lately. He’s hitting almost at 40% of the three pointers he takes, he’s athletic and he’s really improved on his defense. While both players are young, Anderson is 23 and Covington is 26, they both fit in well with the team. That’s what scares me about the two of them. Colangelo doesn’t seem to be against making what he thinks are good deals and that is bad for players like that. I would hate to see either of them go, but I can’t put it past management from getting rid of one or both of them, if they think that it will help the team and ultimately it will not.


What happens to Nik Stauskas?
Stauskas has the same three years to start his career as JJ Reddick. Neither of them were over 40% from three point land and it took Reddick about eight years to get to the point where he’s considered a real threat there. For his career, Reddick is still only a 41% shooter from beyond the arc. So, where does that leave Stauskas? Will he get the time to continue to develop or will he be tossed aside? I don’t see a problem that keeping him and letting him work with Reddick to improve. He can take the time and work on his game as he’s not playing at all. I don’t believe that he’s a lost cause, but I know that he’s not doing himself any favors while sittign on the bench. It’s sad to see people that are high draft picks, not make it in the league, but I’m sure there’s always going to be a spot for a guy that can consistently knock down three point shots. If Stauskas is to have any sort of career, he better step up and start, but if JJ Reddick is the model, Stauskas still has about 7 more years where he can bounce around until he hits his stride.


Rookie of the year battle:
Ben Simmons will get his chance to show the NBA who he really his when the team plays the Lakers this week. He’s going against Lonzo Ball and the hype machine that is his father. Ball isn’t a bad player, but he’s not even in the top five for rookies this year and all everyone talks about is whether he’ll win the Rookie of the Year award or rather how far above the rest of the rookie class he’ll be at the end of the year. While it’s the early part of the year, he’s not even in the conversation for the award right now. It’s Ben Simmons to lose. Simmons leads all rookies in points, rebounds, assists, steals and minutes per game. With 17.4 points, 9.0 rebounds and 7.8 assists, Simmons is showing everyone why he was the #1 pick in the draft two years ago. What needs to happen is for him to have a real good game against the Lakers and show Ball and the rest of the NBA who’s actually the real rookie of the year.


Dario’s return:
All the concerns about Dario Saric from the first five games of the year (insert eye roll here) seem to have fallen by the wayside as he’s really stepped up his game since being put in the starting lineup. Better players alongside of him have him playing back at last years level and he’s shooting almost 10% better from beyond the arc then he did last year. Hopefully, Saric doesn’t slow down as he’s been playing basketball for three straight years, but he seems to be doing fine right now.



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Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports