There’s a certain rule that you have to keep in mind when you become a fan of a team in any sport. At any moment a player, or group of players you grow to like, can be gone in the blink of an eye. A GM or coach, or both could leave the franchise (cut to a group of sad Nuggets fans).
The night of the 2013 NBA Draft will be remembered in Philadelphia as the night the Sixers rose up from the depths of the sports hell in Philly to draw a giant question mark in red, white and blue chalk. New GM Sam Hinkie shifted the course of the franchise by trading away what was the current face of the franchise.
If you’re a fan of the Sixers, you either like or hate Hinkie’s decision to trade Jrue Holiday and a 2013 second round pick for Nerlens Noel and the New Orleans Pelicans’ first round pick next year. There’s nothing to immediately love about the decision. How often are young all-stars traded BEFORE they enter their prime? Hopefully someone answers this because I don’t want to lose my train of thought here.
The trade for Noel and selection of Syracuse PG Michael Carter-Williams oozes analytics, which makes sense with Hinkie’s belief in advanced statistics. The trade also makes sense in this department depending on how important PER is to you. Holiday was the 21st ranked PG in terms of PER, which put him in Jeff Teague-Will Bynum territory.
PER aside, Holiday was the only player that actually improved during a dismal 2012-13 for Philadelphia’s basketball franchise. If it wasn’t for Paul George’s leap to a top-20 player, Holiday probably would have won KIA’s Most Improved Player award.
So why is there any reason to like this trade for the Sixers?
Say the Sixers keep Holiday and enter rebuilding mode, there is a strong possibility that his ability to score and get other players involved would have kept the Sixers around the middle class of the NBA, aka death row. Hinkie wasn’t going to be able to bring in a James Harden type player, (we’ll never know how much Hinkie was involved in making that trade happen) the next best option is to tank and get two of the top five picks in the 2014 Draft.
It’s a fine theory, but the Gods of the NBA don’t necessarily reward teams who come down with the Tankona virus. Say the Sixers wind up with the good fortune of having a bad season, while Eric Gordon misses more than half of the season, Jrue Holiday regresses, Ryan Anderson starts missing threes, Anthony Davis only improves slightly and Austin Rivers continues to do Austin Rivers things. The trade will have a good chance of being a success because they’ll likely wind up with either Andrew Wiggins, or Jabari Parker or both. A Carter-Williams-(insert shooting guard here, possibly Monta Ellis?)-Wiggins-Parker-Noel starting five is very intriguing and could grab the eye of one of the big names in the 2014 free agent class.
Do you see how many variables are in that paragraph? The whole fucking paragraph is variables. It’s like an equation from trigonometry. I’m not saying it can’t happen, but there are just too many obstacles to overcome in order for Hinkie to get his desired result.
This would be a good time to mention the possibility of an awful sequel to the Andrew Bynum horror movie, starring Noel. There’s a reason the Cavs, Magic, Wizards, Bobcats and Suns passed on Noel. You should especially be worried as a Sixers fan when the Bobcats decided to pass on the player who was once considered to be the top pick in the draft. (Noel is hoping to make a comeback from his torn ACL around Christmas)
I just can’t help but feel that there was another way to enter a rebuilding mode, secure a top draft pick in what appears to be an uber talented 2014 draft class and keep your top player. Holiday and Thaddeus Young would have been the only players on the roster after the 2013-14 season (if Jason Richardson didn’t opt into his player option for ’14-’15) besides the rookies taken in this draft and next year’s draft.
Philly could have followed through with the strategy of tanking this upcoming season and grabbed a top pick in the ’14 draft and possibly lured a big name free agent. Again there are quite a few variables involved in this scenario, but at least you have one constant in Holiday.
My small fandom for the Sixers initially hated the trade and I still do to a certain degree. Again, how many times does a 22 year-old all-star, who is entering his prime, get traded for a 19 year-old who missed half of his freshman season in college due to a torn ACL and a first round pick? You don’t trade a dollar for four quarters (copyright Bill Simmons). Carter-Williams, Noel and two draft picks next year have the potential to be a couple dollars, but they could turn out to be four dimes as well.
As Josh Homme once told us, No One Knows what the future is going to be.
Follow me on Twitter @ScottDargis.