Could the 76ers Find Their Missing Pieces in a Trade With the Kings?

NBA: FEB 07 Kings at Clippers
LOS ANGELES, CA – FEBRUARY 07: Sacramento Kings Guard Tyrese Haliburton (0) celebrates with Sacramento Kings Guard Buddy Hield (24) during a NBA game between the Sacramento Kings and the Los Angeles Clippers on February 7, 2021 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, CA. The game was played without fans due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)

There have been whispers connecting the Philadelphia 76ers to the Kings for a possible Ben Simmons destination for quite some time. The west-coast team seems like a great place for Simmons, and with the Kings in a state of flux following the recent firing of Head Coach Luke Walton, there is a great amount of smoke surrounding the situation. The Sixers recently secured a win over the Kings in their previous game, with many keeping a close eye on the matchup between Fox and Maxey.

Despite struggling with his shooting touch as he was 8-22 from the field, Maxey led all scorers in the matchup with 24 points. Fox was not far behind him with 23 points of his own, and the two showcased their impressive pace of play. With the Kings’ franchise seemingly prepared for change, De’Aaron Fox was not the only player putting on his audition. Buddy Hield erupted for 14 first-quarter points and ended the game with 21 points off the bench. He also seemingly shared a chuckle with Doc Rivers toward the end of the game:

What the Sixers Would Get in De’Aaron Fox

Since the search for a potential Ben Simmons trade began, the Sixers have been targeting a top-tier “difference-maker” in exchange. De’Aaron Fox seems to be in the category slightly below this. He has made strides forward each year of his career and had a career-best 25.2 points and 7.2 assists last season. Fox is 24-years-old and hopefully still has room to grow, but he will always be a slasher who relies on his speed at his core.

The biggest red flag with De’Aaron Fox is the lack of shooting. This is right at the top of the checklist when looking at targets in a Simmons trade. Fox has had a particularly poor shooting performance so far this year and is currently connecting on 24.4% of his three-pointers on 4.3 attempts per game. He is a 31.9% three-pointer shooter over his five-year career, with 37.1% as the highest percentage he has ever scored at in a season.

While it would be cool to pair the two fast-paced Kentucky guards, Fox has more overlapping qualities than complimentary when comparing him to Maxey. It would be a blast to watch the duo run the fast break as each player has an argument for the fastest player in the NBA. If the Sixers elect to pull the trigger, it would be the belief that this duo’s ability to push the pace and attack the basket paired with the half-court success of Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris would be effective.

Fox has the tools to be a very good perimeter defender but has had lapses at certain times. Much of this is attributed to how much of the offensive load he was responsible for in Sacramento. Fox would likely be a better defensive backcourt partner than Seth Curry, but this is not a high bar to live up to. It also is pretty clear that the three of them would be unable to play together due to their roughly 6’3 frames and the defensive concerns that come with this.

Is Buddy Hield an Attractive Option?

Buddy Hield has been another guy connected to Sixers rumors for quite some time. With career averages of 16 points per game on 40.5% three-point shooting, Hield is up there with some of the best shooters in the NBA. He lets it fly at an impressive volume, and this season he is attempting 10.7 three-point attempts, which he is shooting at 39.6%.

The 28-year-old has never played on a winning team, and there is a stigma that there is a correlation to this. While he connects at a high rate, Hield is a volume shooter who needs his looks. In the recent Sixers matchup, Hield tied the Kings for most field goal attempts and shot 6 more three-pointers than any other member of the Kings with 11 total attempts on the night. For the most part, this would be refreshing to see on the Sixers roster, but it is worth noting that Hield is not a guy that sacrifices his shots.

There also has been some improvement shown in the shot-creation ability of Buddy Hield this season. Hield would be a defensive upgrade over Seth Curry (although Hield is also not known for his defense) as well as a more willing shooter. Surrounding Joel Embiid with floor spacers is crucial to the Sixers’ success, and Hield is one of the best in this category.

What Sixers Would Still be Missing

Adding Fox and Hield would certainly make the Sixers better, but it does not seem to be the move that will get them over the championship hump. Neither one of these guys is to go-to guy to get a perimeter bucket toward the end of the game, and the team desperately lacks this. It is also concerning that both Fox and Hield seem like useful players, but this has not translated to success for the Kings.

While the lack of ball-handling and passing has been pointed out as the biggest factors that have been missing in the absence of Ben Simmons, defense is going to become increasingly important as the postseason gets closer. Simmons was a major asset defensively in the postseason, and the team will almost certainly take a step back in this area without him. Matisse Thybulle is excellent but has even greater offensive deficiencies than Simmons, although not in as obvious of areas.

As the season has progressed, the potential trade targets have shifted slightly. The growth of Tyrese Maxey has minimized the need for a guard as he has exceeded all expectations early on. The more glaring hole on the team seems to be a shot-creating wing who is effective defensively as well. The Kings are still certainly a team to watch moving forward in connection to a Simmons deal. Even if a Fox and Hield deal is not the one, they very well could get involved in a three-team deal to satisfy everyone.