The Philadelphia 76ers made their decision during the trade deadline. It was going to be a frontcourt of Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and Jahlil Okafor going forward. But wait, someone is missing from this lineup. Where is Dario Saric?
After Nerlens Noel was traded Okafor fans breathed a sigh of relief but believe me when I tell you, it has to be short-lived. The 76ers are one of the luckiest teams in the NBA in terms of talent or their scouts are simply the best at what they do. Either way, the 76ers have too much talent in the low post.
Okafor has to go. And here’s why.
When Embiid returns for the 2017-18 season, there will be no minutes restriction for him at the Center position. Simmons will handle the SF spot and Saric will fit nicely in as the starting PF. So, where does Okafor fit? Will the 76ers bank on him being content with sub minutes? Now, this may work if the Sixers decide to switch their vision for their lineup. T.J. McConnell, Simmons, Saric, Okafor and Embiid. This is built on the fact that Brett Brown wants to play Simmons at PG. He and McDonnell could swap places or move another player there or draft a SG. There are options the team can tweak with this versatile bunch.
The next option is to trade Okafor for a veteran PG like Brandon Knight of the Phoenix Suns. I do believe that Okafor is talented but his upside does not match that of Saric. Fans were eager to see what the rookie from Croatia could do. Well, he’s put his stamp on the 76ers and seems to be a player they can build around along with Embiid and Simmons for many years.
In his rookie year, he has averaged 12 points and 6 rebounds while shooting 41 percent from the floor in 26 minutes per game. With Embiid controlling the paint and willing to fill the lanes on the break that makes it hard for Okafor to fit in with the 76ers future. He’s slow on offense and his turtle-like movements on the defensive end make him a liability. Saric can fill the lanes, handle the ball and is a better passer when it comes to reading a defense. What will make him better is playing with a PG that can distribute and having more time on the floor with Simmons and Embiid.
If the 76ers can either draft or trade for a perimeter threat that will open the offense more where teams can no longer sag in the lane and double Embiid but be aware of the 76ers shooters.
The future is bright for this team and one of the main reasons is Saric. His play has made Okafor expendable and in the long run, the team will be better off if he’s gone.