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April 03, 2017

Sixers Mailbag: Is Richaun Holmes better than Nerlens Noel?

Another week, another Sixers mailbag. No creative lede this time around, so let’s get right to it. As always, thanks to everyone who submitted a question, some of which weren’t answered because they would step on the toes of future posts.

You know, my knee is feeling a little bit funny. If I get some bad news this week, PhillyVoice may put me on a word count limit. Back-to-back posts could certainly be out of the question.

Without digging too deep into this question because I want to see more of both of them (and that includes next year), my guess is that Nerlens is still a bit better than Richaun. In my opinion, defense is slightly more than 50 percent of the equation for big men and Noel is a unique force on that end of the floor with his quick hands, rim protection, and ability to rotate.

Holmes has made major strides as a defensive rebounder from last year and he’s still a good shot-blocker, but he definitely could use some work with defensive fundamentals (rotations, gambling for blocks, etc.)

Regardless of any shortcomings, Holmes is an excellent offensive big man and probably could be a starter on a few teams. As a backup, he’s a great option. The way that the “Bowling Green Massacre” has played, the Sixers’ decision to not pay Noel is looking better.

There is only one answer to this question: Dario Saric is the guy on the Sixers roster that other fans will hate. Sports is always better when there are villains, and I need need need the Sixers to become a playoff team just so other team’s fans have to watch this if the Sixers are raining threes in a home playoff game.

It is notable that in the one-and-done generation, Golden State initially built a championship team around Stephen Curry (three-year college player), Klay Thompson (three-year player) and Draymond Green (fourth-year player). I don’t believe that gives the Sixers and other teams the “DRAFT OLD GUYS!” mandate, but it can be done.

When I was listening to Brett Brown talk about Dario Saric and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot’s valuable European experience the other week, you kind of got the feeling that he’s not all that crazy about college basketball. I also imagine this is an opinion shared around the NBA. It’s a much different sport, and the main reasons that seniors tend to get overlooked are pretty obvious.

Brogdon has been excellent — Sorry Sixers fans, he’s very much in the Rookie of the Year conversation with Saric — but you also have to take into account the other seniors selected before him. Buddy Hield, Kris Dunn (an old junior), Denzel Valentine, and Brice Johnson have all disappointed to varying degrees. When you compare them to somebody like Brandon Ingram, who has been completely overmatched his rookie season, I would still take the 19-year-old long-term when the other players are struggling at 23.

To try and answer the second question, the pre-draft process might play a factor. I watched Brogdon’s excellent four-year career at Virginia, but he didn’t necessarily stand out at the NBA Combine and I imagine the same might be true for individual workouts. That is just a guess, though.

Green and Brogdon were both major parts of hugely successful multiyear runs for their college programs. If we’re looking for players that fit that rough criteria this year, I would say the candidates are Josh Hart (Villanova), Dillon Brooks/Jordan Bell (Oregon), and if we go a bit further down the board, Nigel Hayes (Wisconsin) and Frank Mason (Kansas).

I wouldn’t be surprised if one of those guys comes into the NBA and makes an Brogdonesque impact. The question is which one.

Totally agreed. The Sixers probably should look at extending Covington and hope that he becomes a starting wing on their own contending teams. For now, let’s run through the current standings and guess if “Rock” could start on any current contenders:

•    Golden State: nope
•    San Antonio: yes, I think he’s better than Danny Green
•    Cleveland: nope
•    Houston: yes, I think he’s better than 31-year-old Trevor Ariza
•    Boston: nope
•    Utah: nope
•    Washington nope
•    Toronto: yes, I think he’s better than DeMarre Carroll

Would Covington be guaranteed to start on any of those teams? Maybe not, but who starts games doesn’t really matter anyway. The encouraging thing for me is that Covington would be in the rotation for every single one of these teams maybe with the exception for Golden State in the playoffs.

It’s definitely the biggest question looming over the entire franchise. My guess is that the Sixers are going to take their dear sweet time on this one, and there doesn’t seem to be any reason for them to extend Embiid this summer with the ability to match in restricted free agency next season.

It’s hard to give a definitive answer based on a number of games. If Embiid were to suffer another season-ending injury to his navicular bone, then the risk certainly might start to outweigh the reward. If Embiid were to break his wrist on another freak play after continuing to improve, then I would likely match any offers.

There is still much uncertainty with the market, and most of all, Embiid’s health. Those 31 games gave us a glimpse of how freaking good this guy is, and Embiid’s health risks are still immense. The Sixers don’t want to give max money to a player who can’t stay healthy, but they also don’t want to let a bona fide superstar walk out the door for nothing.

So yeah, no pressure.

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann

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