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18 September 2020

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Three Trades the 76ers Must Consider to Contend in the East

The Philadelphia 76ers made some offseason moves that had the NBA on notice. After falling to the eventual champion Toronto Raptors in the second round, three of their five starters (Tobias Harris, JJ Redick and Jimmy Butler) were all set to be free agents. Jimmy Butler seemed to have little interest in resigning with the 76ers and the organization wanted to get something back for him which lead to the sign-and-trade that led to their acquisition of Josh Richardson, who’s contract goes until 2022 for about $10 Million a year. Then they surprised the league. 5-time All-Star Al Horford declined his player option with Boston to sign a four-year, $109 Million contract with the Sixers. They also resigned Tobias Harris to a max contract worth $180 Million for five years.

The 76ers are currently playing with a starting five of Simmons, Richardson, Harris, Horford and Embiid. On paper that sounds like one of the best starting fives in the league. Many sports analysts and fans alike believed that the 76ers would be legitimate contenders this season.

Jan 20, 2018; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons (25) shoots and scores on a jump shot against the Milwaukee Bucks during the first quarter at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA, unfortunately of Philly, is not played on paper. Despite having some of the best talent and defensive players on the roster, there are two gaping holes in the team’s offense. The team has no three-point shooting. Ben Simmons currently has the best three-point percentage on the team with 40%, however, he doesn’t count because he’s taken a total of five this year. Their next best starting three-point shooter is Josh Richardson. Richardson isn’t a bad three-point shooter, but at 35.8%, that’s not the answer for winning basketball in this era. 

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They also lack shot creators. Ben Simmons is a solid playmaker, but he can’t create his own shots. Tobias Harris and Josh Richardson are good shooters, but they’re not exactly shot-creators either, and their big men Horford and Embiid are more inside players.

Currently sitting in fifth place in the weaker Eastern Conference, General Manager Elton Brand must make some moves before the trade deadline if they want any chance at a title. I’ve come up with three trades the 76ers should consider to make before the trade deadline:

1. Derrick Rose

Detroit Pistons guard Derrick Rose dribbles against the Philadelphia 76ers during the first quarter of a preseason game Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019, in Philadelphia. (Photo: Bill Streicher, USA TODAY Sports)
Source: Detroit Free Press

Currently a candidate for Sixth Man of the Year, Derrick Rose is having his best season since 2011. His contract is no-where close to the level he’s been playing at. Many contending teams could really use his talents for the playoffs. He’s a completely rejuvenated player who’s per-36 minutes match his MVP season.

A realistic trade could look like this:

The main pieces in this trade are Rose, Thybulle and the OKC pick. Many Sixers fans love Thybulle, who’s a promising rookie wing. The 76ers are, however, in win now mode meaning that they need to acquire players to help them win a championship. As good as Thybulle is, Rose is a major upgrade for the bench. With Rose on the team, they can play Simmons at the four and rose can set up his teammates. He’s only shooting 33% from three, but he draws at least two defenders whenever he drives to the hoop, which will get Harris and Richardson more open shots. Rose has been bolstering Detroit’s bench all season and could really boost the 76ers team.

As for Detroit, they are currently looking at a rebuild. Detroit is going to want to stock up on young assets. Matisse Thybulle is having a nice rookie season and has helped out with Philadelphia’s weak bench. Many believe that Thybulle may be a little too much because of how promising he is and could try offering Zhaire Smith. The Pistons may bite on that as well, but they will likely push for Thybulle since Smith is looking more and more like a bust each day he doesn’t play.

2. Bojan Bogdanovic

Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Source: SLC Dunk

Bojan Bogdanovic has always been a great shooter. This year, Bojan is averaging a career-high 20.9 points per game on 41.7% three point shooting while taking seven threes a game. Bojan would provide the much-needed offense that the 76ers currently lack and could really make strides in the Eastern Conference and in the playoffs.

The trade would look something like this:

Philadelphia send Horford over to the 76ers and they move Tobias to the four. Bojan can play the three and that’s a great offensive duo. They will suffer some defensively, but the beginning of the season has made it clear that offense is extremely important. No matter what. They need to make a move to get a good offensive player and Bojan can space the floor very well giving Simmons and Embiid room to run pick-and-rolls.

As for the Jazz, Bojan is having a great season,  but if the Jazz want to contend they can’t have Bojan at the four. Joe Ingles will still start at the three and Horford will play the four, with Gobert at the five. Unlike with the 76ers, Horford would fit better in Utah because Joe Ingles is a great shooter, and Donovan Mitchell along with Conley or Mudiay (depending on injuries) are all capable three-point shooters. Mainly because of Ingles, though, Utah can afford to give up a bit of spacing to get a bigger four to help them in the postseason.

3. Davis Bertans

Dec 5, 2019; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Wizards forward Davis Bertans (42) shoots the ball over Philadelphia 76ers forward James Ennis III (11) in the second quarter at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The 27 year-old Davis Bertans is having a career year with the Washington Wizards. He is currently averaging 15.4 points per game on 43.4% shooting from deep on 8.6 attempts per game. His breakout season has made him a favorable trade candidate for many teams. The Wizards seem to be in no rush to trade Bertans, but given that the Wizards need to be looking to get young talent, the 76ers may be able to nab him.

The 76ers have many young players on their roster not getting roles beneficial to their development left over from The Process Era, and many more second-round picks on the way. The 76ers can use this to their advantage when negotiating with the rebuilding Washington Wizards. 

A possible trade could look like this:

It may seem like the 76ers are giving up a lot for Davis, but the bidding war for him is real. Davis can play the three or four with one of the best strokes in the NBA. He may well be able to make a case for best shooting forward in the NBA. In addition to that, the 76ers don’t have much of a need for young talent anymore. They have great talent on that roster now and have Matisse Thybulle as their exciting young player. They don’t have a need for their second round picks and Zhaire Smith isn’t even in the rotation. Jonah Bolden is having a pleasantly solid year for Philly, but Davis is still a major upgrade. Bertans can take care of backup forward duties and really give the 76ers bench the boost it desperately needs.

The Wizards would love to do this trade because they’re picking up even more young talent. During the offseason, Washington lucked into three young Laker players as part of the Anthony Davis trade. Combining the likes of Moritz Wagner and Isaac Bonga with Zhaire Smith and Jonah Bolden gives this team a legitimate young core for the future. The two second round picks will be an added benefit for Washington as it would give another boost to their rebuild that just 8 months ago, was looking like a lost cause.

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Source: Liberty Ballers

In trade season, very little is certain. One thing that is darn close is that Philadelphia won’t win a championship with the roster they’ve constructed. The front office needs to shake things up if they want to chase that title. This team has not met the expectations given to them and it’s time to change that. Three point shooting, shot creators and bench production are all necessities for this team to improve on. There’s still plenty of season left and the 76ers have plenty of time to turn this season around. These three trades would all be highly beneficial to Philadelphia making a playoff run. They need to do something to get over the hump and really contend. Only time will tell you they’ll do.    

Source for first photo: Radio.com

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