As the trade deadline approaches, the Sixers are expected to be very active. What should their trade deadline wishlist look like?
The Sixers currently sit at first place in the Eastern Conference with a record of 24-12. There is a ton to be happy about as Joel Embiid is having an MVP-caliber season. Ben Simmons seems to have taken a step forward in his progression. Tobias Harris has successfully ascended to the third star that the team needs.
While Daryl Morey has done a tremendous job creating space for his stars by adding shooters and finding complementary players, polishing off the rest of the roster is still an important task.
The trade deadline will occur on March 25th, so as the date approaches, here is the Sixers wishlist for the needs that still need to be addressed:
1) Stretch Power Forward
Tobias Harris has been everything the Sixers could have asked for so far this season. Under Doc Rivers, Tobias has transitioned to his more natural role as a power forward. This has proven to be a major success as he is averaging 20.2 points, 7.6 rebounds and had a serious case to be an all-star himself.
Behind Tobias is where the problem comes in as Mike Scott is the only other power forward on the Sixers roster. Scott has had a frustrating season so far as he has battled injuries and minutes restrictions throughout the year.
Despite his success in his recent start, Mike Scott should not be looked at as a guy who should be a lock for playoff minutes. His toughness and attitude are an asset but not enough to overcome his undersized frame and his decreasing quality of play.
The only true big man in the Sixers second unit is Dwight Howard. The Sixers have already been through the ups and downs with Howard so far this season. He has provided energy in spurts off the bench. He has also led to great frustration due to his overaggressive and reckless style of play.
Dwight is a great guy to have on the roster and will do wonders for veteran leadership among the youthful Sixers squad. His value as a true center is important, and his championship experience is noteworthy. However, he lacks scoring polish and shooting ability, which would go a long way in opening things up for the second unit.
At this stage of his career, Dwight’s offensive ability is limited to catching lobs and securing put-back dunks. It is rare for him to move from underneath the basket, limiting his ability to play alongside Ben Simmons as he limits Simmons’ ability to drive to the basket.
This is largely why Doc Rivers has chosen to work with two separate units when making his substitutions. Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid are often paired in their substitutions, which avoids playing Simmons and Howard on the floor together.
If the Sixers can add a floor-spacing big man, that would open up a lineup where Simmons can flourish without Embiid. A lineup without a true big man could also flourish as well as.
Simmons, with his 6’10 frame, is more than capable of guarding an opposing center. It also would add a necessary shooting touch to the struggling second-unit and provide depth behind Tobias Harris.
2) Veteran Backup Point Guard
While he certainly deserves a ton of credit for his work on the defensive end, Ben Simmons is critical to the Sixers’ offense. This was put on full display earlier in the season in a much-up with the Trail Blazers.
Despite being without Dame Lillard, CJ McCollum, and Jusuf Nurkic, the Trail Blazers blew out the Sixers in a game that ended with a final score of 121-105. Ben Simmons was ruled out of the matchup with left calf tightness. This was one of five games that Simmons has missed this season.
In this TrailBlazer matchup, the Sixers offense struggled to ever get in form as the ball looked stagnant. Everyone except Joel Embiid looked to be out of rhythm. The offense starved for the distribution and fast-break energy that Simmons brings to the table.
So far this season, Ben Simmons ranks second on the team in offensive rating. Trailing only Joel Embiid, Simmons adds 10.5 more points per 100 possessions for the team. The DPOY candidate also ranks first in the league in fast-break points to prove his impact on the fast-break.
Shake Milton is the Sixers’ primary back-up point guard. The 6th man is an extremely valuable part of this Sixers team. The bench unit struggled when he missed time due to an ankle injury. But Shake is best used when is creating his own shot and, while he has taken strides as a passer, this is not a natural tendency in his game.
Tyrese Maxey is the truest point guard on the Sixers roster, but he does not appear ready for the condensed playoff rotation. His early success gave hope of an extremely bright future for the rookie. Still, he certainly needs some time to continue to develop.
Maxey is currently shooting 27.3% from beyond the three-point line on 1.7 attempts per game. Until his willingness to shoot and ability to knock down jumpers improves, he is not ready to contribute on a regular basis.
If the Sixers can add a veteran point guard, it would go a long way toward connecting the second unit. This combo-guard-type player would also help to bring out the best in Shake Milton. It is important to have enough guys that can handle the ball as the playoffs approach, and this is an area the Sixers are still somewhat thin in.
Adding an additional guy who could run the offense could also be a key to unlocking Ben Simmons in the half-court. Simmons excels as the ball-handler on the fast-break, but he has found his home underneath the basket in the half-court this season.
The three-time all-star has impacted the game by setting screens and posting up, which has been a positive addition to his game. Seth Curry and Shake Milton have each been serviceable in this role, but finding an experienced veteran to fill this role could prove to increase the Sixers’ half-court potential.
3) Wing Depth/ Perimeter Shooting
There is no such thing as having too much shooting. While the roster overturns in the offseason have gone a long way to improving the spacing, the Sixers still lack perimeter production.
Still, the inconsistent scoring of Furkan Korkmaz and lack of offense by Matisse Thybulle have led to lapses in the bench scoring from this area.
Shake Milton is also currently shooting a career-worst 31.3% from three, which has added to the team’s struggles. Isaiah Joe has also shown flashes of his scoring ability. Still, Doc Rivers does not seem to have trust in him, and Joe was recently sent down to the G-League for the time being. Joe will soon return to the team, but it is unclear what type of role awaits him.
It is entirely possible that the Sixers bench shoots itself out of the cold-streak it went into the all-star break with and climbs the ranking in the second half of the season. But adding another quality shooter could also go a far way in injecting life into the current group of shooters, and upgrading a wing spot could prove valuable.
Since he first took the reigns, Daryl Morey has spoken about wanting to let the team develop and seeing what holes need to be addressed before making moves. Now at the half-way point of the season, it is time to start making things happen via trades or the buyout market that is now beginning to develop.
In Morey we trust.