totally disagree with the premise. Are you suggesting they should have traded Jahlil midway through his rookie season averaging 17 and 7? Why? That would have been really dumb.
Trade Noel while he looked like a future DPOY candidate?... he still does.
I told everyone over the Summer that it didn't make sense to trade anyone until they had a chance to evaluate a number of things. That's exactly what Philly has been doing.
They had to see if Embiid was healthy. They also needed to wait to see if any of these guys could play together. They needed to figure out what their greatest needs were. They needed to make some guesses about how the upcoming draft can impact those needs (they can potentially have two top 5 picks in a guard-heavy draft).
Because of injuries early on, they didn't get a chance to even look at Embiid + Okafor until last month. They played a handful of games together. From my perspective, it didn't really work. While that was certainly predictable, it was important that they took a look at it before making a trade. What if it DID work? Twin towers have worked successfully in the past for teams (though it was a different generation).
They haven't had a chance to even look at Embiid + Noel until this past week. With Noel finally healthy, they shared a handful of minutes together in their win vs the Timberwolves. This was a long-awaited pairing that NBA fans have long been curious about. Theoretically, on the defensive end, Noel + Embiid would be the ideal pairing between the 3 bigs, because Noel is far more mobile than Okafor. Theoretically, on the offensive end, Noel + Embiid would be the ideal pairing between the three bigs because Embiid has range to stretch the floor (something none of the other two pairings have). In the handful of minutes they played against Minny, it was actually pretty encouraging. They made up for each other's weaknesses and shared the ball offensively. Likewise, in the handful of minutes they shared against Boston, it also looked pretty encouraging. Noel got a dunk off an Embiid assist, Noel stole the ball, Embiid was still able to make an 8 footer without having a clogged lane. It was an interesting look... one that I assume they will keep looking closely at as the trade deadline approaches.
Last night was a big game for Noel's trade value. He had inarguably his best game of the season. He had 13 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 blocks and 2 steals in only 25 minutes with 6-8 shooting. His contributions helped his bottomfeeder team remain close against a top 7 Celtic team. Frankly, that game was a up-close reminder to teams like the Celtics who have had interest in him - that he's still a potentially game-changing defensive big. He's extremely mobile and lengthy. His offense is weak, but the 22 year old kid was able to knock down a mid-range shot and showed he can generate offense off offensive rebounds and alleyoops. Considering the narrative over the past few months has been that Noel is an injured malcontent who can't help the 76ers win - his recent play (especially last night) went a long way towards showing that #1 - he's still the fantastic defensive prospect we know him to be, #2 - He's healthy right now, #3 - There didn't seem to be any attitude problems on display (in fact Joel Embiid has recently called him his best friend) and #4 - There might still be a long-term role in Philly for him.
Colangelo recently backed up a lot of the things I tried to explain to people here over the Summer. It made no sense for them to move one of those guys until they had a chance to evaluate a number of things. He also recently backed up my comments that making a trade for the sake of making a trade is pointless. If they don't get an offer worthwhile, they are better off doing nothing. Lastly, he backed up my opinion that this is a very fluid situation. A week ago everyone was pretty convinced Noel was in the dog house and on his way out. This morning we wake up with a new reality where Noel just had a tremendous game and might actually have a promising future playing on that team. Meanwhile, Okafor is in the DNP zone. Perception is changing daily.
But let's take a honest look at where we are.
Jahlil Okafor is just 21 years old and his per-36 numbers this season of 17.1 points, 7.7 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.8 blocks with 51% shooting still show the same player he was last year. Both his offensive and defensive rating have improved this season. If you're a team interested in adding an tradition offense-first big, your opinion of Okafor should be roughly the same as it was last season. He's still a prospect that could develop into a great player.
Nerlens Noel is just 22 years old and his per-36 numbers in an incredibly small sample size (9 games in limited minutes) of 20 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.5 steals, 2.2 blocks with 64% shooting reflect a player who at worst is the same dynamic defensive role player he was the past two seasons... at best, it's a player who is actually making notable improvements to his offensive game. If you had interest in Noel before, only his contract situation would give you pause on having interest in him now.
So I leave you with two final thoughts.
#1 - I don't think Boston and Philly are a match for Noel. First, I don't think Boston would be willing to part with the assets that would make it worthwhile for Philly. Second, while many outside both teams still feel a Smart for Noel trade would be logical, Smart doesn't make sense on Philly. They need shooting. Lastly, I've done the math and while it seems we could still offer a decent contract to a player like Hayward this Summer in the small window between giving Noel the QO and matching any offer he receives, last I checked adding Noel would kill our chance of offering a max contract to a player this Summer. That might be a dealbreaker. Targeting Okafor might still work financially, but Noel understandably is seen as a better fit given his defensive abilities. So the bottom line is that I'm looking at this stuff from the perspective of an NBA fan who doesn't really see an outcome where my Celtics stand to benefit.
#2 - For those of you convinced of Okafor and Noel's "trash" trade value, consider the following hypothetical... You're in charge of Philly. There's an obvious big man log jam on that team. Joel Embiid appears to be the transcendent prospect everyone hoped him to be. Building around Joel is the obvious future for your club. Ben Simmons is still minimally a couple weeks away from playing, but he too might be a transcendent prospect. Simmons is an elite passer who presumably will be creating offense for his team similar to a point guard. His shooting leaves much to be desired right now. It's clear your team is going to need shooters around him (hence why you've recently gone out and acquired a player like Ilyasova). The best move seems to be dumping one or both of Okafor and Noel and you can easily assume the target is any guard that can shoot.
Let's assume the best possible offer for a guy like Noel literally is a bench warming young guard like Terry Rozier. Rozier is averaging 5.6 points, with 37%/32%/69% shooting. Questionable how a guy shooting those percentages is going to help, but let's pretend that's the best offer for Noel. According to fans here, Philly should take that just for the sake of making a trade. You're in charge of Philly... do you do it? Before you answer, let's say hypothetically the Laker pick actually conveys. Philly picks in the top 3 and selects a desperately needed elite guard with star potential (Fultz, Ball or Smith). With the Laker pick let's say the pick falls around 7th and they take a sharpshooting guard like Malik Monk. Where does Terry Rozier now fit in that lineup? Isn't he now getting like 15 minutes per game at most? How would 15 minutes from Rozier off the bench be better than 15 minutes from Noel off the bench?