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Sixers: Some answers to some tough questions

THERE ARE so many questions surrounding this 76ers team and they are conveyed many times daily to me through Twitter, email and in person. So this week we'll take on the most asked and see if we can shed a little light.

THERE ARE so many questions surrounding this 76ers team and they are conveyed many times daily to me through Twitter, email and in person. So this week we'll take on the most asked and see if we can shed a little light.

Q: Can Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel play together?

A: This question is going to be answered more as the season goes on and not because of familiarity. If you listen to what Brett Brown says, he has been hinting that he might try to move Okafor to the power forward spot. His ideal vision when playing two bigs is having one who can occupy the paint and another who can step away from the basket and shoot consistently from 15 to 18 feet. Neither one is the outside guy right now, but if you had to project who might be better, it would be Okafor with his ability to put the ball on the floor and a decent outside-shooting touch. Noel simply has no ability to score from beyond three or four feet from the hoop. Looking forward, does Brown start thinking toward next season when he envisions Joel Embiid and perhaps Dario Saric added to the mix? Does somebody not fit into the future plans. Will they be trade bait? Moving forward, this is the biggest on-the-court dilemma.

Q: With Jerry Colangelo on board, what does it mean for the team moving forward, especially Sam Hinkie?

A: Many say that losing patience at this point of The Process is going backward and that Hinkie should be allowed to see his vision through. But how much more patience do you need? Hinkie landed Noel and Okafor and Saric and made trades that could bring four first-round picks in June, perhaps two in the top four. What is more patience? Losing again next year? The time to move forward begins after this season. It has to. That doesn't mean that moves can't be made to the future, but they can't all be. It has to start next season. Embiid has to be healthy. Okafor and Noel have to prove themselves. And it may all tie together so nicely if they are able to land Ben Simmons with the top pick. Sure, parts can, and in some cases have to be moved, but it has to be done with the thinking that the winning starts next season. No one around the league thinks Colangelo was brought here to collaborate. Read into that what you will.

Q: Will we see Embiid in a Sixers uniform next season?

A: If we don't, it is a huge hit. The injury is one that has a past with some former NBA players, with some good results and not so good ones. But technology was so much different then, and healing a navicular fracture has come a long way since then. Embiid recently has been getting around without a boot on his foot, and he looks terrific. He is muscular, the form on his shot is pure and he displays an athleticism of a guard. No one can be sure what his game is going to be like, and using Kansas as an example isn't really a good comparison. That was about 30 pounds and a few inches ago. Embiid has played very little basketball since starting the game at 16 and now will enter the NBA after two seasons off and having played just 28 games in college.

Q: Why has Hinkie been so reluctant to get, or stick with, a point guard?

A: You have to think this is the area that really proved the organization didn't want to win games. After a rookie-of-the-year season, Hinkie traded Michael Carter-Williams to the Milwaukee Bucks and got back the first-round pick of the Lakers, which is top-three protected in the upcoming draft and in 2017, then not protected in 2018. There is little doubt Carter-Williams is struggling. There is also little doubt the team would have won more games with him running the show the past three seasons. Perhaps Hinkie didn't see MCW fitting in. Perhaps he thought he was too good when losing was a priority. Not re-signing Ish Smith, who was well liked by teammates and made Noel a much better player, was pretty telling.

Q: Can Brown coach in this league?

A: I lean toward yes. I've said many, many times that judging him over his first three seasons isn't fair because of the lack of talent that has been given to him by the general manager. I've talked to current and former players in San Antonio who can't stop talking about how great a coach and teacher he is. I understand the frustration of fans when plays aren't executed down the stretch of games or certain players are getting more time than they appear to warrant. I question it myself a lot. But when pressed, Brown's answers make sense. The lack of talent just really comes into play so many times that no amount of coaching is going to change the expected result.

Q: Why did the name Mike D'Antoni pop up last week?

A: This is getting a little more strange as the days have passed since it leaked last week. Brown said the team had been talking to the former Phoenix coach for a while and that bringing in someone with his experience is a no-brainer. Others question whether it was Colangelo who started the wheels in motion, as he lives in Phoenix and is very familiar with D'Antoni. Another school of thought is that D'Antoni was the one who put his name out there because he wants to get back to being a head coach, and what better place to look than a franchise that has been so awful for three seasons. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. The Sixers visit Phoenix on Dec. 26. There may be some things going on behind the scenes then.


Who: New York Knicks (12-14) at Sixers (1-26)

When: Friday, 7 p.m.

Where: Wells Fargo Center

TV/Radio: Comcast SportsNet/

The Fanatic (97.5 FM)

Game stuff: This will be the first chance for Sixers fans to see rookie Kristaps Porzingis at the Wells Fargo Center. The No. 4 overall pick is having a terrific season. His line in Wednesday's win over Minnesota was 11 points, seven blocks, six rebounds and three assists.

Who: Sixers at Cleveland Cavaliers (17-7)

When: Sunday, 3:30 p.m.

Where: Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland

TV/Radio: Comcast SportsNet/The Fanatic (97.5 FM)

Game stuff: This is the third meeting between the teams this season, with the Cavaliers winning the first two by an average of only 6.5 points. All-Star guard Kyrie Irving, who broke his kneecap in the NBA Finals, has yet to make his season debut. We'll see if he's available for this one.

Who: Memphis Grizzlies (14-13)

at Sixers

When: Tuesday, 7 p.m.

Where: Wells Fargo Center

TV/Radio: Comcast SportsNet/

The Fanatic (97.5 FM)

Game stuff: There may be no more puzzling team in all the NBA than the Grizz. Just this month they've had impressive wins at Detroit and at New Orleans, yet lost by 37 at home against Oklahoma City and 24 at home against the Charlotte Hornets.

Who: Sixers at Milwaukee Bucks (10-17)

When: Wednesday, 8 p.m.

Where: Bradley Center, Milwaukee

TV/Radio: Comcast SportsNet/

The Fanatic (97.5 FM)

Game stuff: When the Bucks lost in Los Angeles to the Clippers on Wednesday, it extended their road losing streak to 11. Stud center Greg Monroe is hobbled by a sprained MCL in his left knee. Former Sixer Michael Carter-Williams is averaging 11 points and 5.4 assists.


26-for-30: Those are the foul shooting numbers over the past six games for Jahlil Okafor. That's an 86.7 percent clip.

49-for-73: Those are the foul-shooting numbers in the previous 19 games played by Okafor. That's a 67.1 percent clip.

52.0, 46.2, 106: That is the shooting percentage, three-point shooting percentage and the point total for the Sixers in Wednesday's game against Atlanta, a game they still lost by 19 points.

On Twitter: @BobCooney76