The Philadelphia 76ers may be considered one of this season’s bigger disappointments relative to expectations, but, to their credit, they still boast a 25-16 record and have the league’s No. 12 net rating at +3.1.
That could indicate they may not need wholesale changes this season but smaller upgrades to their rotation. At the same time, questions remain about the team’s overall awkward fit, particularly between Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid and Al Horford, as well as whether or not they can legitimately contend with the lack of shooting they’re getting from their top players.
First and foremost, the Sixers need to add more shooting to their rotation. It’s clear Philadelphia knows that too, as most of the trade rumors coming out of there are regarding the team looking around the Association at floor-spacing wings.
On the season, Philadelphia attempts the sixth-fewest three-pointers in the NBA and knocks them down at a mediocre clip of 35.5 percent, the No. 17 mark league-wide. The weird thing is, at home, the Sixers knock down triples at an elite 37.6 percent rate, which would rank second in the Association if that was their actual success rate on the year, but on the road, that number plummets to 33.5 percent, which would be fifth-worst in the NBA.
That could have something to do with their roster being made up of streaky shooters who get hot when they have the home crowd on their side, and get icy cold when facing adverse conditions.
An upgrade at backup point guard could also help out Philadelphia, as the Trey Burke/Raul Neto combo is pretty inconsistent; landing another improved playmaker might allow Simmons to play off the ball a bit more, too, where he’ll be able to excel as a screen-setter and cutter, two areas he’s added to his game recently.
POTENTIAL TRADE CANDIDATES
One thing the 76ers do have going for them on the trade market is the fact they have pretty decent assets – the easily movable kind – on their roster, including Burke, Neto, Furkan Korkmaz, James Ennis and Kyle O’Quinn, who are all cheap, relatively productive role players. For salary-matching purposes in a potential larger trade, those kinds of contracts come in handy.
As far as Philadelphia players more focal to theoretical trades, if the Sixers do try and swing a huge move and don’t want to deal anyone in their starting 5, opposing teams will undoubtedly be most interested in rookie 3-and-D specialist Matisse Thybulle, who is shooting 42.1 percent from three this year and averaging 2.7 steals and 1.5 blocks per 36 minutes.
Second-year guard Zhaire Smith could also garner some interest, but his development appears to have been severely stunted by missing most of his rookie year with injury, and he doesn’t look anywhere near as promising as he did when he was just a prospect. Smith has yet to see a minute of NBA action in 2019-20.
POTENTIAL TRADE TARGETS
There have been a few players connected with Philadelphia on the trade market recently. Among them, former Sixers fan favorite Robert Covington, Malik Beasley, E’Twaun Moore and Glenn Robinson III, as well as two Detroit Pistons guards, Luke Kennard and Langston Galloway.
There’s clearly a pattern here, as all of those players are above-average to plus-shooters, and would help the 76ers become more a threat from beyond the arc.
There’s also been scuttle about Marcus Morris, who is averaging a career-high 19.1 points this season and shooting nearly 47 percent from three for the rebuilding New York Knicks, being a trade target of Philadelphia’s, though he would be by far the most expensive of the bunch, and would cost the Sixers at least Thybulle, if not some draft capital, too.
Other guys who could be interesting targets for Philadelphia and might actually be moved ahead of this year’s trade deadline include Bogdan Bogdanovic, Jeff Teague and DJ Augustin, one sharpshooting 2-guard and two reliable backup point guards who can knock down threes.
As of Jan. 15, every player on the 76ers’ roster is eligible to be traded.
The only restriction they have as far as trades go is they can’t deal Ennis without his permission, as his contract has a Bird Rights-related no-trade clause on it.
Draft picks are considered the most premium assets teams can send out, or acquire, in trades.
Odds are, at least for 2020, Philadelphia won’t have much to offer teams draft asset-wise, as their first-round pick is going to the Brooklyn Nets unless the Sixers shockingly miss the playoffs, while the first-rounder the Oklahoma City Thunder owe Philadelphia might not transfer since it’s 1-20 protected. Even if it does transfer this summer, there’s a lot of uncertainty surrounding that pick right now, which could turn teams off from trying to acquire it.
They do have multiple second-round picks lined up for the 2020 draft and beyond, though, and can still offer teams future first-round picks, of which they own all of them.
You can follow Frank Urbina on Twitter: @FrankUrbina_.