The 76ers have now fallen to 11-6 on the year, firmly placing themselves at the “5th seed”. For a team that has championship aspirations, this is obviously not where people expected them to be. Although early in the season, the secret is seemingly out. This Philadelphia 76ers team is flawed. While we could sit here and argue the effectiveness of stars like Ben Simmons or Joel Embiid, the biggest weakness this team has remains a far simpler one.
The Sixers rank 19th in three-pointers made, 17th in three-point percentage, and 20th in three-pointers attempted. As the new age of basketball takes over and teams are now winning championships solely based on the three, this is an issue that needs addressing.
After losing their leading three-point shooter this past offseason (JJ Redick), the team hoped to internally find a replacement. Turkish born wing player Furkan Korkmaz provided a brief spark to start the season. However, in the team’s last eight games Korkmaz has seen his 3P% stabilize at a very mediocre 29.5%. Korkmaz’s lack of consistency sees him being more of a hindrance on the court than an asset.
Sixers General Manager Elton Brand had a very busy trade deadline last winter. Seeing as the team is already hitting some roadblocks, expect him to continue his aggressive approach. With that said, here are a few names to keep your eye on.
Squash the Beef: Marcus Morris Sr.
Earlier this season Embiid and Morris Sr. almost got into a fight. Later this season they could be teammates. Morris is currently sitting at a career-high 5.8 threes attempted per game, while also knocking down the long ball at an absurd 51.0% rate. Morris not only provides the obvious efficient floor spacing that the Sixers need, but his impressive size (6’ 8”) gives him the ability to be a strong defender/rebounder. The Knicks are terrible, to put it bluntly, they’ll be looking to sell at the trade deadline.
Splash Move: Bogdan Bogdanovic
Easily the most accomplished player on this list, Bogdanovic would come with a hefty price tag. The Serbian forward is currently averaging career highs in points, 3P%, 3PM, steals, and assists. Despite his obvious talents, both as a shooter and overall ballplayer, the Kings aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Moving off of the 27-year-old for a handful of Philly prospects may just be in their best interest.
Another Big: Moritz Wagner
“Mo” Wagner makes the least sense for this current Sixers team but would add a unique aspect to the squad. A center who started his career with the Lakers before being shipped off to Washington DC, he’s seemingly reinvented himself in his sophomore year. His 3P% has risen 20% up to 48.6% and his scoring average has jumped nearly 8 whole points. Adding another big man to this already “big-heavy” roster seems strange, but his ability to knock down an open jumper should be enticing to Elton Brand.
Back to New York: Wayne Ellington
Entering his 11th season, many thought Ellington would be targeting a contender as his next team. However, he signed with the Knicks, seemingly interested in playing a larger role on a rebuilding roster. However, seeing as his minutes have dropped to a low he hasn’t experienced in six years (15.1), he may be re-thinking that decision. Ellington’s career 3P% sits at 37.9% and his veteran leadership would no doubt help the Sixers young locker room. As previously mentioned, the Knicks will be looking to trade away players, and similar to Morris, Ellington will most likely be on that list.
This Sixers team is not complete. The idea that they can run with this current group and contend with the best teams in the NBA is wishful thinking. The Philly farm system is loaded with young talent that the team isn’t using (Zhaire Smith, Jonah Bolden, Shake Milton), shipping some of these guys away for some shooting is the most obvious “win-now” move the league has seen in a long time.
Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports