Disclaimer: Before you get further ahead, please be aware that I am in no way suggesting the 76ers should trade Joel Embiid. I personally believe that Simmons and Embiid should be allowed more time to figure things out. In no way, shape or form am I proposing that they trade Joel Embiid. Ok, now you may continue.
Ben Simmons had a breakout game of sorts against the Cleveland Cavaliers on December 7th, where he put up a career-high 34 points, three rebounds, and seven assists. He shot 12-14 from the field, 9 of 12 from the free-throw line and even made his 2nd career three-pointer.
Fans were quick to notice that Simmons’ best game of the season came in a game that Joel Embiid didn’t play in. It was the most aggressive that Simmons had played all season. He was attacking the rim, played tenaciously on defense and looked like a freight train in transition. Of course, Simmon’s stellar performance shouldn’t have come as a surprise.
Without Embiid in the paint, Simmons had the keys to the offense and the Sixers played at an exciting fast pace. The 47-point blowout win caused fans on Twitter to debate whether the Sixers might be a better and more exciting team without Joel Embid. That resulted in a fun night where fantasy trades involving Embiid were tossed around left and right. In the end, the Sixers PROBABLY won’t trade one of their franchise guys. However, just for a second, let’s say they did. What would be a realistic trade that would net the Sixers a fair return for arguably the best center in the NBA?
The Trade Proposal:
Atlanta Hawks receive: Joel Embiid, Zhaire Smith
Philadelphia 76ers receive: John Collins, Jabari Parker, Kevin Huerter, Allen Crabbe, 2022 2nd round pick via ATL
Why it makes sense for the Atlanta Hawks
Frustration has been mounting from within the Hawks organization, according to a report from Shams Charania of The Athletic. The frustration apparently led to an emotional scene in the Hawks locker room involving Trae Young. Also reported was that a team official told Trae Young that he would be “getting some help soon”. Could that help come in the form of Joel Embiid?
Trae Young is putting up All-Star numbers, averaging 28.4 points, 4.1 rebounds and 8.2 assists while shooting 46% from the field and 38% from deep. No one, not even the Hawks, could have predicted such an early breakout for the second-year guard. The Hawks sit at 6-18, which is good for only 13th in the Eastern Conference. Many had high hopes for the Atlanta Hawks entering this season. While injuries and suspensions have held out key players like Kevin Huerter and John Collins, the Hawks are still missing a second star to pair next to Trae Young. Trading for Joel Embiid would do just that.
Embiid is arguably the best center in the NBA and a proven 2x All-Star. Last season, he averaged 27.5 points, 13.6 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.9 blocks per game. He’s had a bit of a down season this year, only averaging about 22 points and 12 rebounds. However, he is still one of the most impactful players in the league.
The Atlanta Hawks biggest weakness is at center. Acquiring Joel Embiid would fix that immediately. He would give the Hawks a dominant two-way force who would demand double teams in the post and protect the rim at all times. Embiid would be the perfect partner for Trae Young and vice versa. Young is a superb passer and a serious three-point threat, something that makes the current pairing of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid so awkward.
Embiid is also only 25-years–old. He would still fit the timeline of the rest of the Hawks young pieces like Young (21), De’Andre Hunter (22) and Cam Reddish (20). That is a very talented young core who would be able to be much more competitive than the current iteration of the Hawks.
While losing John Collins and Kevin Huerter will hurt, adding a player of Joel Embiid’s caliber would more than make up for it. Having the opportunity to add a bonafide star is too good to pass, especially when your star guard is desperate for help.
Trading away Jabari Parker will weaken the power forward position a bit but the wings on the team such as De’Andre Hunter and Vince Carter should be able to make up for some of those minutes. The Hawks would also be receiving Zhaire Smith in the proposed trade, a young prospect with a lot of potential, if given the appropriate role and minutes. All in all, the Hawks would be cashing in some of their young players for a proven All-Star caliber player in Joel Embiid and the price is more than worth it to finally give Trae Young some help.
Why it makes sense for the Sixers
Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid have never been a perfect fit and they probably never will be. Even if Ben Simmons becomes an average three-point shooter, their playing styles don’t fit well together. Embiid needs touches in the low post and is a bit of a ball stopper but he is so good at scoring in the post that the entire Sixers offense revolves around him. Simmons is a slashing playmaker with limited shooting ability who loves to run in transition and set up teammates on the perimeter for easy jumpers.
His inability to shoot makes it extremely easy for defenders to sag off him and double team Embiid without having to worry about him taking a jumper. Embiid makes it difficult for the Sixers to play fast and takes away a lot of room in the paint for Simmons to operate. See why they just don’t work well together?
Trading away Embiid would be a tough pill to swallow. He is the crown jewel of Philadelphia but if they are insistent on moving him and handing the team over to Simmons full time, then a package netting them John Collins, Kevin Huerter, Jabari Parker and Allen Crabbe is about as good as they can get.
John Collins is currently serving a 25-game suspension for violating the league’s Anti-Drug Program. However, being in a locker room with guys like Al Horford and Tobias Harris should help him mature.
Collins is a walking pogo stick, putting players on posters every other night and swatting shots with ease. Before being suspended, Collins was averaging 17 points and 8.8 rebounds as well as 2 blocks per game. He was shooting 52.5% from the field and 47.4% from 3, although that percentage is probably an anomaly since he shot around 34% in his previous two seasons.
Collins would give the Sixers a rim running power forward with some shooting touch who could run right alongside Ben Simmons and the rest of the team. Al Horford would slide to center and the Sixers starting lineup would still remain among one of the best in the league.
Kevin Huerter would be a welcomed addition as well. He was out for quite some time with a shoulder injury but in the 12 games he’s suited up, he’s averaged 8.5 points to go along with about 3 rebounds and assists. Huerter is a marksman from deep, shooting higher than 38% from deep over his young career. He would bring a much-needed scoring spark off the bench and would give the Sixers a nice secondary playmaker to pair alongside Ben Simmons.
Jabari Parker would be a nice piece to insert into the second unit. Although not a prolific shooter (27.6% from 3 this season), he can still score in bunches. He’s averaging 16.2 points per game this season and has stepped up in the absence of John Collins. Allen Crabbe is a decent bench player as well and would give the Sixers another shooter off the bench.
This is one of the few trades that would make sense for the Sixers if they ever decide to move on from Joel Embiid. The Hawks need another star to pair next to Trae Young and the Sixers need more talent that suits Ben Simmons’ strengths. It’s a match made in fantasy trade heaven!
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports