Joel Embiid is really, really good. When you have 3 rotation-level centers, as well as #1 pick Ben Simmons at power forward, you need to clear up the glut. And as Okafor racks up DNPs, Noel just keeps improving. Even if you look at per-36 stats, Noel has more points and rebounds, while Okafor wins by - wait for it - less than one assist.
Noel - 18.2/9.6/0.9
Okafor - 17.6/7.8/1.6
Noel has only just recently beaten out Okafor - that, as well as Noel's early-season injuries that he's still recovering from, have kept Noel from his full potential. But the Sixers seem to have chosen Noel over Okafor, meaning that Okafor is now the most likely to be traded. So let’s look at a few teams that might want the Greg Monroe-like young big man.
1. Boston Celtics
Celtics give - Terry Rozier
76ers give - Jahlil Okafor
Rozier has emerged this season as a legitimate rotation-level guard, and at just 22 years old and halfway through his 2nd season, this is just the beginning of things to come. Though sad to see him go, they will likely be happier to have a player who is a decent rebounder- Avery Bradley is currently leading the team with 7 (ugh), and they are the 2nd-worst rebounding team in the league, with 49.1 per game. That is not good at ALL.
Okafor, on the other hand, would help simply by being there - Tyler Zeller and Kelly Olynyk aren’t exactly intimidating paint presences. Though the Sixers would do this in a heartbeat, the Guys in Green may have some inhibitions. Defense, for one- though he can't really be much worse than Zeller. Also shooting, but under Stevens’ tutelage, he may be able to become passable from midrange- a bit like Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder and Jonas Jerebko did.
2. Dallas Mavericks
Mavericks Give - Deron Williams, top-5 protected 2018 1st (DAL), Wesley Matthews
76ers Give - Jahlil Okafor, Robert Covington
Would the Sixers bite on this? Perhaps. This does seem like a very plausible scenario; however, I’m just not so sure I like the fit. First of all, for Dallas - how do you work out a Dirk/Jahlil frontcourt? JaVale McGee and Darko Milicic could tear that up. And would it be worth giving up that 1st rounder? That could be extremely valuable, especially if Dirk retires.
And imagine the Lakers keep their pick this year, the Sixers could have picks 1, 2, and 6. Plus Embiid and Simmons, plus this year’s guy (assuming the Lakers keep the pick). Markelle Fultz? That would be insane. Fultz/Simmons/Embiid/3 top-6 picks. But the veterans may make them pause, as they are in one of the deepest rebuilds anyone has been in for a long time. Plausible? Yes. A perfect fit? No.
3. Golden State Warriors
Warriors Give - Kevon Looney, Ian Clark, James Michael McAdoo, Patrick McCaw, Unprotected 2018 1st (GSW)
76ers Give - Jahlil Okafor
This would leave the Warriors with virtually no depth outside of the top 9 (The starters + Jahlil, McGee, Livingston, Iguodala), and lose valuable young wings in Clark and McCaw, but gain a starting-caliber center- something they currently lack. The Sixers would get another asset (the pick) and two young wings, with loads of potential. The Dubs, on the other hand, would have an even better starting lineup.
Would they rather do this trade for Noel? Yes. But if Okafor is available, I think both teams would pounce if this were put in front of them (unless the Warriors think Kevon Looney is the second coming of Tim Duncan or something). Only question- will the Sixers be willing to take on James Michael McAdoo’s (minimum) contract? He’s pretty bad.
4. New Orleans Pelicans
Pelicans Give - Jrue Holiday
76ers Give - Jahlil Okafor, top-20 protected 1st (OKC, if pick doesn’t convey, becomes two 2nd rounders in ’22 and ’23)
76ers get Jrue Holiday back, adding a much needed creator, resolve their glut and no longer have to deal with the third most complicated pick protection in the league (the top two are also owned by Philly, and involve a whopping FIVE TEAMS). The Pels, on the other hand, now don’t have to play Omer Asik (always a plus) and open up minutes for Tim Frazier.
Frazier was a revelation last year on a historically decimated squad, as well as this year before Holiday came back, but he can’t play with him, so they need to pick one. This also rounds out a pretty good big man rotation, where Donatas Motiejunas and Terrance Jones come off the bench. Davis can cover up some of Okafor’s defensive issues, and Tyreke Evans can have the ball in his hands more.