Currently slotted just outside the top three in the Eastern Conference at fourth, it’s hard not to call the Sixers season a success so far. Joel Embiid is playing at an otherworldly level- keeping pace in both the MVP and DPOY race. Becoming more acclimated to NBA speed, Ben Simmons is averaging 19.3 PPG, 8.15 RPG, and 7.4 APG in his last 15 games and J.J Redick still can’t miss from deep. Additionally, the team is currently third in assists per game and fifth in rebounds per game.
Not everything is exactly sunny in Philadelphia (I couldn’t resist ̄_(ツ)_/ ̄), however, as the team is severely lacking production from their second unit. Averaging a lowly 24.4 bench points per game, the Sixers are desperate for a spark plug or two off the pine.
“Our bench just needs to be better,” backup guard T.J McConnell said after the Sixers narrowly edged the 9-30 Phoenix Suns. “It’s flat-out unacceptable for real.”
After the reserves contributed a putrid 20 points, I couldn’t agree with McConnell more. Although it’s not necessarily out of the ordinary for playoff teams to get a lower output from their reserves due to star players scarcely coming off the floor, the Sixers woes are bordering pathetic. The team desperately needs to add difference-makers off the bench and will likely have to look towards the trade market to find them. While there aren’t a ton of slam-dunk options available, there are still quite a few players Philly could realistically acquire. Let’s take a look at five reserves the Sixers could acquire before the deadline:
1) Courtney Lee (NYK)
A career 38% shooter from deep, Lee has seemingly fallen out of favor, and the rotation, with the rival Knicks. Lee has been listed as a DNP in three of New York’s last four games and has only topped 20 mins three times in fifteen games since returning from injury. The sharpshooter would be a welcome addition in Philly and wouldn’t cost much to acquire. It remains to be seen if the Knicks are interested in helping their Atlantic division adversaries.
2) Wayne Ellington (MIA)
Speaking of scarcely used sharpshooters, Ellington has suited up in just four games since December 4th and may be in line for even less playing time once Dion Waiters returns to the rotation from injury. After splashing an impressive 39% of his long ball attempts last season, Ellington has produced at a comparably high clip again this season- converting 36% of such attempts this season. Similarly to Lee, it shouldn’t take much to acquire the 31-year old journeyman, but could pay huge dividends for the Sixers.
3) Robin Lopez (CHI)
While it would be awesome if Embiid were able to play all 48 minutes, it simply isn’t possible. Philly desperately needs a rim protector off the bench and Lopez certainly fits the bill. Stuck on the rebuilding Bulls, Lopez is wasting in Chicago and would be much better served on a playoff contender. The Bulls are reportedly interested in dealing the veteran big man and I’d expect Sixers GM Elton Brand to make a call or two to his former franchise.
4) Frank Kaminsky (CHA)
Sticking with big men, Kaminsky would be an interesting acquisition for the Sixers. He doesn’t offer much aside from his shooting ability (career .34 3P%) but could spell Mike Muscala as a serviceable stretch big if given the opportunity.
5) Dennis Smith Jr. (DAL)
Probably the player with the heftiest price tag as far as net trade value, Smith Jr. surprisingly finds himself on the trade block after a promising rookie season. Smith Jr. is an athletic marvel with a ton of upside and would mitigate the blow if Fultz never figures it out. The Mavs asking price is a bit hard to gauge, but the Sixers should move quickly if it isn’t too steep.