24 October 2020

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Could Blake Griffin be a 76er Next Season?

Just one year ago, Blake Griffin had led the Detroit Pistons to the #8 seed in the playoffs. He himself was coming off what many consider to be the best season of his career, a season that earned him All-NBA Third Team honors. In that season he had averaged 24.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 5.4 assists. He also shot 52.5% from two and 36.2% from deep on 7 attempts per game. Had Blake Griffin been on a winning team, the case for MVP could have been quite strong.

At one point, Blake Griffin had willed the Pistons to the #6 seed when what everyone thought would happen all season finally happened: Blake Griffin had torn his meniscus.

After his injury which sat him the last few games of the regular season, Detroit dropped to the #8 seed where they were annihilated by Giannis and the Bucks in one of the most humiliating sweeps of the decade.

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Blake did play the last two games against the Bucks while still injured and managed to put up 24.5 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists, but that would be the last of the Blake Griffin to have been seen as of now.

Detroit Pistons forward Blake Griffin (23) attempts a layup as Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) defends during the second half of Game 4 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series, Monday, April 22, 2019, in Detroit. (Carlos Osorio / Associated Press)
Detroit Pistons forward Blake Griffin and Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmp were butting heads all night in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Blake would miss the start of the season and after 18 games, would be out for the season to recover from the injury that never fully healed. Blake’s stats during those 18 games dropped to 15.5 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 3.3 assists and he shot 43.9% from two and 24.3% from deep.

Detroit’s season, which they began with heavy optimism in the hoped of getting a #6 or #7 seed were lost. They really proved how essential healthy Blake Griffin was to their team last year with their performance this year.

With the uncertainty around Griffin and his health and if he’ll ever play at that level again, and his massive $110 Million left on his contract, it looked like the Pistons would be in an abyss for a long time.

That is, unless someone is desperate enough to take a chance on the 31-year-old Power Forward. 

Allow me to introduce to you: The Philadelphia 76ers. 

Embiid changes Twitter avatar to crying face | theScore.com
Steve Russell / Toronto Star / Getty

The 76ers were coming off a game-seven Conference Finals loss to Kawhi Leonard and the Raptors. With Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons so young for how incredible they are, many thought that they would only improve from there.

Unfortunately, they did the opposite. Once their core of Ben Simmons, JJ Redick, Jimmy Butler, Tobias Harris, and Joel Embiid was switched up and is now Ben Simmons, Josh Richardson, Tobias Harris, Al Horford, and Joel Embiid.

Of their five new starters, four of them have either regressed or shown no sign of much-needed improvements.

Ben Simmons’s scoring had actually regressed a bit as well as his rebounding, Josh Richardson’s three-point shot disappeared, Al Horford lost all of his offensive skills, and Joel Embiid went from an MVP candidate to a regular all-star. Only Tobias Harris has lived up to the expectations that were set on him at the beginning of the season.

The biggest issue with the 76ers is their complete lack of three-point scoring. Tobias Harris is currently their best shooter, shooting just 36.2% from deep. Although that is a pretty solid clip, having that as your best shooter in today’s NBA is a death sentence.

Because of this issue, the 76ers fell from what was once supposed to be the team to end Giannis, to a team holding the #6 seed in the East that may not even get out of the first round.

With the trade deadline all but passed, the 76ers are going to need to make a change this offseason.

Philadelphia 76ers v Detroit Pistons
Leon Halip/Getty Images

Many can look at Al Horford as their largest reason for the 76ers’ recent failure since he was supposed to come in, shoot threes, and play great interior defense. His interior defense has declined and his three-point shot disappeared. What’s worse is that they had just signed Al Horford to a four-year $109 million contract last offseason, meaning they’ll be stuck with him until he is 37.

The 76ers do have hope, however. They need an upgrade at Power Forward and have plenty of leftovers from ‘The Process’ to try and move him, but they are still in a win-now mode which may limit their options.

This has led many, including Greg Swartz from Bleacher Report, to believe that the 76ers should pursue Detroit’s Blake Griffin. There are a lot of options for a trade between the two Power Forwards, but here are some options that make the most sense:

  • 76ers Receive:
    • Blake Griffin
  • Pistons Receive:
    • Al Horford
    • 2020 second-round pick (Via Atlanta)
    • 2022 first-round pick (lottery protected)

This is basically a straight-up trade that sends Blake to the 76ers while the Pistons get a few draft assets and take on the much inferior Al Horford.

This trade really does work out for both sides, though. The 76ers acquire a Power Forward that should be able to stretch the floor if he can even bring back 75% of what he was in 2019. The one-two punch of both Simmons and Griffin driving the ball into the lane and then kicking it out will be marvelous to watch. 

Meanwhile, it may seem like the Pistons are getting a horrible contract, but they actually would have a use for Horford. The Pistons traded Drummond so they do not currently have a Center, meaning Horford can go back to his more comfortable role. What’s more, is that they now can start rising star Christian Wood at the Power Forward since they won’t have to play Griffin. They also get Atlanta’s second-round pick which as of now is #34 in the draft. They also get a likely future first-rounder down the road as they are in the midst of a rebuild.

Another possibility is Greg Swartz’s three-team trade that he posted on Bleacher Report.:

  • 76ers Receive:
    • Blake Griffin
  • Pistons Receive:
    • Myles Turner
    • Jeremy Lamb
  • Pacers receive:
    • Al Horford
    • 2020 first-round pick (Via Detroit)

This trade also, in all honesty, works great for at least two of these teams.

The 76ers still get Blake Griffin so absolutely nothing changes from the first trade.

The Pistons get their young Center in Myles Turner and a solid shooter in Jeremy Lamb, however, the odds of Detroit giving up their pick this year is unlikely. Although, if they acquire Turner, they won’t really need their pick. The Pistons had made it clear that they are, at the very least, highly interested in signing free agent Fred VanVleet, and with Turner, they’d their two biggest holes without needing a pick. This could also mean their starting five would be:

Fred VanVleet, Bruce Brown/Luke Kennard, Sekou Doumbouya, Christian Wood, and Myles Turner.

Imagine the athleticism on that team. Doumbouya, Wood, and Turner are all incredibly athletic and have all had monster dunks before. They’d also either have a great defensive or a great offensive backcourt as VanVleet is good at both and then Kennard and Brown specialize in the opposite side.

The Pacers meanwhile will get a veteran presence in Horford, who could be their sixth man or starting Center, and they get what’s likely to be a top-five pick that they could use to draft someone like Obi Toppin or James Wiseman as Sabonis excels as both a Power Forward and a Center.

Detroit Pistons forward Blake Griffin (23) in the second half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, March 26, 2019, in Denver. The Nuggets won 95-92. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
David Zalubowski/Associated Press

Blake Griffin’s future is shrouded with mystery, both on how he’s going to play, and what team he will play on. Either way, a change needs to happen for both the Pistons and the 76ers, so it makes sense that they’d help each other to change. We will wait in agony for the season to return and then monitor every move in the offseason to see how these to franchises (hopefully) switch things up.

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