Joel Embiid, Richaun Holmes, others react to Bryan Colangelo Twitter story

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Back in September, Kevin Durant had some explaining to do when it was figured out he had a burner account he used to defend himself and criticize other players. Now, that’s now not even the wildest, weirdest Twitter story of the NBA season. This league has gone insane.

Sixers GM Bryan Colangelo may โ€” and we emphasize “may” because, despite a mountain of circumstantial evidence, this is not proven โ€” have had five Twitter burner accounts he used to defend himself, criticize players on his team, take shots at former GM Sam Hinkie, goad Sixers media and push them toward stories, and generally vent. Which would be an incredibly stupid thing for a person in a position of power to do, but then you look around the world at other people in positions of power and say, “maybe he would, stupid is winning the war.”

The Sixers Richaun Holmes was laughing.

Joel Embiid, the Sixers’ star and one of the targets of some of the accounts, had some fun joking around on Twitter about this, but then added this.

It would be. Which is why other executives around the league seem to have doubts.

That said, there is a lot of circumstantial evidence here, both in terms of who was followed by the accounts, the timing of some things, and (as Woj reported) that much of what was said on these accounts mirrors things Colangelo allegedly said to other executives and people around the Sixers.

Nobody is sure what to believe. Check out Trevor Booker‘s timeline.

Other people from the NBA just had fun with it.

76ers look dangerous when adjusting for playoff rotations

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Kyrie Irving significantly affected the Celtics’ record this season. Isaiah Thomas held a defining role on the Cavaliers for a while. Tristan Thompson played plenty for Cleveland, too.

But Irving (injured) and Thomas (traded) will have nothing to do with Boston’s and Cleveland’s playoff fortunes. If Thompson falls from the Cavs’ postseason rotation, neither will he.

Yet, any season-long metrics โ€“ including win-loss record โ€“ commonly used to predict the playoffs factor in those players. So, Iโ€™ve found how many points per 100 possessions teams score and allow when five players projected to be in the postseason rotation are on the floor together.

This is hardly a perfect measure. Teams rarely announce their playoff rotations, so weโ€™re left with my predictions of which players will receive regular playing time in the first round. The minutes distribution among players in the adjusted rating can vary from what itโ€™ll be during the playoffs. This doesnโ€™t take into account opponent quality. Some teams have larger samples than others. Home-court advantage is not considered.

But I find it useful, another data point among the many necessary to evaluate the upcoming playoffs. It shows how the players we project to see on the court the next couple weeks have played together, without someone else affecting the chemistry.

Hereโ€™s each teamโ€™s offensive, defensive and net ratings adjusted from the regular season to counting only lineups that include five players projected to be in the first-round playoff rotation (using nbawowy! to calculate):

Eastern Conference

3. Philadelphia 76ers

  • Offensive rating: 110.6 to 110.1
  • Defensive rating: 106.1 to 99.4
  • Net rating: +4.5 to +10.7

1. Toronto Raptors

  • Offensive rating: 116.1 to 118.5
  • Defensive rating: 107.8 to 108.2
  • Net rating: +8.3 to +10.3

7. Milwaukee Bucks

  • Offensive rating: 111.1 to 116.7
  • Defensive rating: 111.4 to 109.1
  • Net rating: -0.3 to +7.6

4. Cleveland Cavaliers

  • Offensive rating: 115.0 to 116.4
  • Defensive rating: 113.9 to 109.1
  • Net rating: +1.1 to +7.3

8. Washington Wizards

  • Offensive rating: 111.2 to 113.4
  • Defensive rating: 110.6 to 108.1
  • Net rating: +0.6 to +5.3

6. Miami Heat

  • Offensive rating: 108.2 to 112.1
  • Defensive rating: 107.8 to 107.4
  • Net rating: +0.4 to +4.7

5. Indiana Pacers

  • Offensive rating: 111.2 to 111.7
  • Defensive rating: 109.7 to 108.0
  • Net rating: +1.5 to +3.7

2. Boston Celtics

  • Offensive rating: 109.7 to 106.6
  • Defensive rating: 105.9 to 104.1
  • Net rating: +3.8 to +2.5

Western Conference

1. Houston Rockets

  • Offensive rating: 118.0 to 124.3
  • Defensive rating: 109.1 to 112.1
  • Net rating: +8.9 to +12.2

5. Utah Jazz

  • Offensive rating: 109.5 to 111.9
  • Defensive rating: 105.3 to 100.7
  • Net rating: +4.2 to +11.2

6. New Orleans Pelicans

  • Offensive rating: 111.2 to 115.2
  • Defensive rating: 109.7 to 105.3
  • Net rating: +1.5 to +9.9

3. Portland Trail Blazers

  • Offensive rating: 111.2 to 113.6
  • Defensive rating: 108.5 to 108.1
  • Net rating: +2.7 to +5.5

8. Minnesota Timberwolves

  • Offensive rating: 115.1 to 116.5
  • Defensive rating: 112.9 to 111.4
  • Net rating: +2.2 to +5.1

7. San Antonio Spurs

  • Offensive rating: 109.6 to 112.4
  • Defensive rating: 106.5 to 108.1
  • Net rating: +3.1 to +4.3

2. Golden State Warriors

  • Offensive rating: 115.1 to 109.0
  • Defensive rating: 108.6 to 106.7
  • Net rating: +6.5 to +2.3

4. Oklahoma City Thunder

  • Offensive rating: 112.9 to 114.2
  • Defensive rating: 109.3 to 111.9
  • Net rating: +3.6 to +2.3

Observations:

    • The 76ers’ projection doesn’t include Joel Embiid, who expects to miss Game 1 against the Heat. Replace Richaun Holmes with Embiid, and the 76ers’ offensive/defensive/net ratings jump to 116.9/98.6/+18.3. Wow!
    • These rankings could overrate the 76ers, though. Their schedule softened late, after Ersan Ilyasova and Marco Belinelli arrived post-buyout. Counting those two in the postseason rotation could skew the sample.
    • Nearly all teams annually see their net rating improve once adjusted for the playoff rotation. This year, three teams get worse with the adjustment. All three โ€“ Celtics (Kyrie Irving, Marcus Smart, Daniel Theis), Warriors (Stephen Curry) and Thunder (Andre Roberson) โ€“ are missing key players due to injury.
    • The adjustment pegs four lower seeds ahead of their first-round opponent โ€“ Bucks over Celtics, Jazz over Thunder, Pelicans over Trail Blazers, Spurs over Warriors.
    • Utah became a different team once Rudy Gobert got healthy.
    • The Pelicans projected postseason rotation is especially tight. They might need to rely more on lesser players than projected here, lest they risk getting worn down.
    • Whichever team drew depleted Boston was clearly in (relatively) good shape. The Bucks might be the best of the teams โ€“ also, Heat and Wizards โ€“ that were in the running.
    • I expected the Cavaliers to improve even more with the adjustment. Isaiah Thomas trying to play his way back into form was so destructive for them. Perhaps, LeBron James dialing it up will be enough for them to win the East again.
    • The Rockets’ offense will be awesome. They’ll miss Luc Mbah a Moute defensively.

Report: Sixers hope Joel Embiid will only miss one playoff game

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Joel Embiid has yet to have surgery to repair his fractured eye socket, the swelling has to go down before he can go under the knife. His absenceย has changed the Eastern playoff race โ€” a few days ago there was talkย of the Sixers passing the Cavaliers for the three seed and having a reasonable path to the conference finals, now they may not be able to hold off the Pacers and keep home court in the first round. And if Embiid is not back for that first round…

Want some good news Sixers fans? Want some hope?

The Sixers are optimistic that Embiid will only miss one playoff game,ย maybe two, if everything goes right, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN said on the NBA Countdown show today. That is on the short end of the 2-4 week timeframe for these injuries, it would require everything going right โ€” he gets surgery this weekend, it’s not more complicated than they think now, there are no setbacks in healing โ€” but it’s possible.

With Embiid back, and if he can step in and quickly be close to his old self, the Sixers become a real threat in the postseason. While Ben Simmons may be Rookie of the Year, and they have good fit role players such as J.J. Redick and Robert Covington, it is Embiid that makes it all work. When Embiid has been off the court this seasonย the Sixers are 15.2 points per 100 possessions worse. When Embiid is sitting the Sixers defense goes from elite to about average, and the offense falls and becomes one of the worst in the NBA.

That’s not a formula that lasts long in the postseason.

The Sixers will try to plug the hole with some combination of Amir Johnson, Richaun Holmes, and Dario Saric at center, depending on the matchup, but the Sixers need Embiid back to have any real shot in the postseason.

Which is why this report matters. Hope, it’s the best of things.

Three Things to Know: Jahlil Okafor gets his chance. What will he do with it?

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Every day in the NBA there is a lot to unpack, so every weekday morning throughout the season we will give you the three things you need to know from the last 24 hours in the NBA.

1) Jahlil Okafor gets his chance. The #FreeJah movement got what it wanted on Thursday โ€” Jahlil Okafor has been traded, and landed in about as good a situation for him as could be found, Brooklyn. The trade is Okafor, Nik Stauskas, and the Knicks 2019 second-round pick to Brooklyn, while Philly gets Trevor Booker.

The Sixers needed to move on from Okafor, the former No. 3 pick, he was not part of their future and was wasting away on their bench. Okafor did not play well next to Joel Embiid (in limited minutes) or Nerlens Noel, who also is gone. Okafor has a throwback game that is not the direction the NBA has moved with its bigs โ€” he doesnโ€™t have to be guarded more than 10 feet from the rim, he plays below the rim, and he struggles defensively both in space and protecting the paint. But he can score around the bucket.

Okafor is going to get his chance in Brooklyn, there are minutes to be had because the center spot is thin (Tyler Zeller has been starting, Jarrett Allen could be part of the future but is a project, and Timofey Mozgov is basically out of the rotation). The question is what will Okafor do with his second chance? He has to prove he can be an efficient scorer โ€” through his career in Philly his true shooting percentage of 53.9 is basically league average. He has to be a better playmaker passing out of the post when doubled, and he has to be stronger on the boards. Assuming his defense is what it is at this point and not going to improve much, he needs to show he can be the efficent offensive force we saw at Duke, not the rather meh player heโ€™s been at the NBA level. Guys like Zach Randolph and Enes Kanter have made nice careers playing below the rim and not defending much in the NBA, but they are incredibly efficient on offense. That’s what Okafor needs to be. Do so and he will find a nice contract next summer (probably in Brooklyn). Donโ€™t and the market for him will be slim.

I like this trade for Philly, Booker adds solid depth up front off the bench. The Sixers didnโ€™t give up much โ€” neither Okafor nor Stauskas was part of their future โ€” and they get another proโ€™s pro veteran who can come in, play with energy, be a glue guy and help them both make the playoffs and be a difficult out once there. Pair him with Richaun Holmes off the bench and you have a solid rotation that works for Philly.

2) If this Lakers/Sixers game is what we see in the NBA Finals in four or five years, Iโ€™m good with that. This game was fun, played at a good pace and with long, young athletes figuring their game out. There was a lot to like. The young and playoff-bound Sixers had Ben Simmons with a triple-double (12 points, 13 rebounds, 15 assists) although he turned the ball over four times and didnโ€™t do a great job getting the Sixers into their game plan and sets early in the clock. Joel Embiid was a beast with 33 points. Robert Covington (19 points) and Richaun Holmes had good games for the Sixers as well, but Philly came out flat (down 13 in the first quarter) and, like a lot of young teams, tends to play to the level of their competition. Philly has lost back-to-back games to the Suns and Lakers, the kinds of games playoff teams win.

With the Lakers, Brandon Ingram is turning the corner. He wants to be the teamโ€™s closer, and showed why Thursday on national television.

As for the game winner, we all thought Lonzo Ball was going to take this shot, right? With the game tied 104-104, Brandon Ingram passed the rock to Ball who was wide open in the right corner โ€” where Ball is 0-of-6 shooting on the season. Ball said earlier in the season he would have taken the shot, but this time he drove past the Joel Embiid closeout, got close to the paint and sucked all five Sixers defenders in with him โ€” then Ball whipped the pass to a wide-open Ingram at the arc. Ingram shot it like a closer, like the guy with the killer instinct he wants to be.

Iโ€™ve written here before in recent weeks (and posted on Twitter) that Ingram is making big strides. Heโ€™s still got to get stronger, but heโ€™s confident now and uses his length and more strength than people realize to get his shot. He had 21 points in this game (on 21 shots) and still goes more in isolation than I would prefer, but he is starting to develop into the key cornerstone piece the Lakers hoped for.

3) And the Oscar goes toโ€ฆ Andrew Bogut for the flop of the season so far. Either this was a great flop, or Andrew Bogut was shot by the second gunman in the grassy knoll. Either way, no way he went flying like this based on the contact involved โ€” but it worked. Bogut got the foul call.

Reports: Jahlil Okafor, Nik Stauskas traded to Brooklyn for Trevor Booker

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Jahlil Okafor is going to get his chance to prove he can contribute in the NBA.

For their trouble, Philadelphia is going to get some veteran depth up front.

The Sixers are sending Okafor and shooting guard Nik Stauskas, plus a second-round pick, to Brooklyn for veteran power forward โ€” and impressive dunker โ€” Trevor Booker, a story broken by Zach Lowe of ESPN.

Okafor has been on the trade block for more than a year, the Sixers finally found a deal they like. This was a good deal for both teams.

It’s good that Okafor, the No. 3 pick in the 2015 draft (one spot ahead of Kristaps Porzingis) who has battled injuries and an NBA game that has moved away from his skill set. Okafor is a project, he doesn’t have much shooting range nor can he defend very well (in space or at the rim). He plays below the rim. He may not be the star that he was projected to be, but in Brooklyn Okafor will get a chance to show he can get buckets around the rim and out of the post, and that he has a role in the league. There is potential for him in an Al Jefferson/Zach Randolph kind of role (likely off the bench).

Brooklyn also gets a shooter in Stauskas who was out of the rotation in Philly (with J.J Redick and Timothe Luwawu getting run ahead of him). The Nets are rebuilding, and taking a flier on a couple of former first-round pick is the kind of gamble they should be taking. The Nets now have two of the top three picks from the 2015 draft, they got D'Angelo Russell from the Lakers last summer.

Philadelphia is eyeing the playoffs, and Booker gives them a solid big man off the bench that they can pair with Amir Johnson and/or Richaun Holmes. Booker is a glue guy who plays with energy every night โ€” exactly the kind of veteran the Sixers have tried to surround their young core with. The Sixers get better in the short term with this move.