Sitting atop the East, the Sixers are in a great position and already have one of the most balanced rosters of any 76ers team in the past 20 years. However, there are still minor adjustments that could be made to put the team in an optimal position as the playoffs approach. Let’s look into who could be on the move on the current roster.
Sixers roster locks
Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons
These two cornerstone pieces have rightfully been labeled as the focus of roster construction and that should continue to be the case. Joel Embiid has played himself into one of the true contenders for MVP and Sixers staff and fans should be nothing short of ecstatic of the player he has developed into.
Ben Simmons will continue to be one of the most controversial figures in Philly sports and while frustrations in the lack of evolution in his game are sure to continue, the fact of the matter is the Sixers are a better team when he is on the floor.
After missing out on the James Harden sweepstakes, it seems pretty certain the Sixers will ride out the season with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons as the faces of the team. This year’s supporting cast has been brought on to maximize their skills and it would be disappointing to break up Simmons and Embiid without giving them a legitimate chance to win this year.
As the third member of the “Holy Trinity,” Tobias Harris has been excellent this year. Averaging 20 points per game and shooting a career-high 41.6% from beyond the three-point arc, Tobias has quietly created a legitimate all-star case for himself and has been the reliable offense that this Sixers team has needed throughout the season.
Doc Rivers deserves a ton of credit for his ability to find the best way to use Tobias Harris in the offense. Harris is at his best when he plays simple and decisive, and he has made these changes consistently throughout the season. The main criticism with Tobias is predictably how large his contract is, but he has been the exact player that the team has needed all season and the most consistent player on the roster.
Seth Curry and Danny Green
There was so much talk this offseason about adding shooters to surround Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons and this pair were perfect solutions to solve the spacing issues. Seth Curry is gradually coming back to earth after his red-hot start to the season but has played a major role for this team and it is still worth noting how exciting the developing chemistry between Curry and Joel Embiid was prior to the positive Covid test.
Danny Green is probably the most under-appreciated player on the Sixers roster. Yes, he is 33 years old and has undoubtedly lost a step or two in his lateral quickness. Yes, he makes running look more difficult than just about any professional athlete ever and it sometimes seems as bricks are attached to his feet. However, Danny Green has some of the highest basketball IQ out of any player in the league. He seemingly has never out of position on either end of the floor and he does a lot of little things that go unnoticed by most.
If the Sixers decide to ruffle some feathers and make a big-time trade, it is likely Danny Green will need to be tossed in to make the money work as he is carrying a $15 million cap hit this season. It also should be noted that it is no coincidence Green has won back-to-back championships with two different teams and he has filled a valuable role with the Sixers already this season.
Unlikely to Move
The 24-year old guard has been one of the most pleasant surprises of the entire Process era. Averaging 14 points per game on 24.4 minutes played this season while being the 14th highest-paid player on the Sixers is a bang-for-buck deal that is tough to replicate.
Shake has struggled lately and is continuing to recover from his ankle injury which has held him out since injuring it in the Kings game. Regardless, Shake has proven to be an extremely important part of this team and will play a valuable role down the stretch. It is notable how much different the second unit has looked since Milton’s injury and how necessary his scoring burst is. Largely as a result of his absence the bench unit scored just 25 points in last night’s loss to the Jazz.
The honeymoon period with Dwight Howard has certainly ended as the limitations in his game have certainly shown face. His effort and energy have still been there, however, Dwight has become increasingly reckless with his fouls especially on the offensive end. A staple Dwight stat line that can be expected on a nightly basis now falls somewhere along the lines of 10-15 mins, 2 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 fouls.
While adding an additional bench big should certainly be a priority, it is unlikely Dwight will be on the move. The 8-time all-star and 3-time DPOY agreed to a one-year veterans minimum deal with the Sixers prior to this season with seemingly not a great deal of interest among other teams. The leadership and mentor role Dwight will play will continue to be valuable and hopefully, he can learn to control his fouls at least a little better as the year progresses.
Flashback to the start of the season and Matisse Thybulle seemed extremely likely to be traded. Furkan Korkmaz was the clearcut favorite for filling the wing minutes off the bench and Matisse has not taken the step forward offensively that the team could use.
However, in recent games, Matisse has gone a far way in proving his value with the team. Thybulle has become one of Doc’s true assets as he is able to be thrown out on the court and make an impact on the defensive end right away.
This was first seen in the havoc Thybulle brought on at the head of the zone along-side Ben Simmons in the win over the Pacers. It seems this strategy is one Doc likes as he even has used Matisse in a man-to-man role on guys like De’Aaron Fox. In a pseudo opposite 6th man role where he comes in and provides all defense, Thybulle may end up an important piece down the stretch.
Tyrese Maxey has an extremely bright future in the NBA and hopefully with the Sixers. He has stepped up to just about every challenge thrown at him including scoring 39 points as a primary offense option as well as looking comfortable coming off the bench as a rotational piece.
However, it has been seen in recent games that when the lineup gets squeezed to a smaller rotation, the Kentucky rookie is often who finds himself the odd-man-out. Maxey has played 10 or fewer minutes in 4 out of the last 8 games and is simply not getting enough playtime to maximize his development.
On a different team, Maxey would likely be looked at as a player shouldering major minutes and possibly even in the running for Rookie of the Year. I am sure, ideally, Daryl Morey would like to hold onto last year’s first-round steal, however, if there is a bigger-ticket player the Sixers are looking to attain then Maxey is likely the most attractive trade piece for opposing teams.
Doc Rivers does not seem to have faith in making Maxey a part of the regular rotation as is. The Sixers also have reportedly been in the market for a veteran PG to add to the rotation and this would cut into Maxey’s time even more. With the Sixers looking to bolster the lineup postseason success, it is possible that a conversation is had about flipping Maxey for a veteran.
The 4th year product of Turkey has played a valuable role on this Sixers team. His irrational confidence and relentless trigger provide a necessary spark off the bench. While still not superb, Furkan has also shown signs of promise on the defensive side of the ball.
Doc Rivers and many members of the team have also has spoken very highly of “Korky” throughout this season. Furkan is likely not a player that the team will be eager to trade, however, his tradeable contract and solid play this year may lead to some inquiries from another team.
There have been high hopes for Isaiah Joe since he was promised to be selected by the Sixers prior to the draft. the 6’4 guard is known for his shooting and even in limited minutes this season he is still averaging 3.6 three-point attempts per game.
Joe impressed in the extended minutes he received due to many of his teammates missing time due to contact tracing. The former Arkansas man carries a cap hit of just under $900,000 for this season and he remains under contract for 2 more years after that.
While he has played well in stretches this year, Isaiah Joe is not yet ready for playoff minutes. It also works against the 21-year-old is looking to grow into the type of player that the Sixers already have in Furkan Korkmaz.
Sixers trade candidates
It is always tough to like a player for his personality more than his actual on-court production, but this is certainly the case with Mike Scott. While I love the attitude and toughness that he adds to the team, Scott is simply not good enough to play crunch-time playoff basketball.
The career-highs of 7.8 points and 3.8 rebounds on 41.2% from 3 were a pleasant addition in his first stint with the Sixers. Scott had failed to reach those numbers before in his career and he was unable to replicate them in his full season with the Sixers the following year. Scott has missed 18 games with a knee injury before returning for the past two games. He also holds a $5 million contract which makes him extremely tradeable if attached to draft picks or a cheaper contract, such as a rookie deal.
Tony Bradley is solid. He has done a decent job stepping in when Joel Embiid has been unable to go and even has filled the starter role due to Dwight Howard not fitting well with the starting unit.
Overall he has been averaging 4.1 points and 5 rebounds in just under 12 mins per game. A former 1st-round-pick out of UNC and just 23 years-old, Bradley still seems fairly well regarded around the league. He also had a contract that could be attached to picks or a cheaper deal and may still hold enough talent to get a deal done.
Terrance Ferguson and Vincent Poirier
Both Terrance Ferguson and Vincent Poirier have been held to under 25 minutes played this year. Outside of the emergency bench depth that he provides, it is still confusing why the Sixers elected to keep Vincent Poirier over Justin Anderson at the start of this season.
Regardless, both Ferguson (3.9 mil) and Poirier (2.6 mil) could both be used as salary-fillers in an upcoming deal.
Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire