3 free agent guards the Sixers should target

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Philadelphia 76ers’ Daryl Morey listens to a question during a news conference at the NBA basketball team’s training facility, Wednesday, May 17, 2023, in Camden, N.J. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

The Philadelphia 76ers offseason has not gone exactly as planned. They started the offseason off perfectly, getting the exact coach that they were targeting in Nick Nurse. Everything after that appeared to be not going exactly as planned.

The Sixers were unable to trade into the second round as they had long been rumored to be trying to do. James Harden opted into his player option on his contract but demanded a trade. Georges Niang got a payday from the Cleveland Cavaliers. Shake Milton bolted for the Minnesota Timberwolves. Even Jalen McDaniels found a contract with the Toronto Raptors. 

While Philadelphia’s offseason hadn’t gone exactly to plan, the Sixers were able to make some positive moves. Out of the draft, the Sixers were able to snatch up Summer League hero Terquavion Smith, future dunk contest champion Ricky Council IV, and Azuolas Tubelis on two-way deals. They were able to bring back Paul Reed on a three-year deal and come to agreements with Patrick Beverly, Mo Bamba, and Montrezl Harrell. Despite these additions, the Sixers still need to fill out the roster. Here are three guards that the Sixers should look at.

Jaylen Nowell

Jaylen Nowell has the most upside of any guard on this entire list. He’ll only be 24 years old next season. He just played a career-high 65 games at a career-high 19.3 minutes per game. He also recorded career highs in points per game (10.8), rebounds per game (2.6), and steals per game (0.6). That being said, there is a reason that he remains unsigned this far into free agency. Nowell’s efficiency from beyond the arc plummeted this past season, going from 39.4% from deep last season to 28.9% from deep this season. 

On the other hand, he makes up for what he lacks in consistency in raw athleticism and potential. Nowell has been an excellent finisher through his first four years in the league and will likely continue to be elite in that regard.  While Nowell more than likely won’t be a star player in this league, he could very well be worth taking a chance on at this stage of free agency. How many 24-year-old guards fresh off of their career-best season statistically are available right now? Not many.

Terrence Ross

Terrence Ross may not be the flashiest signing at age 32, but he is a solid option for the Sixers at this stage of free agency. Last season Ross played in 63 games. Forty-two games for the Orlando Magic and 21 games for the Phoenix Suns. He averaged 8.3 points per game on 43.0/36.8/79.4 shooting splits for both teams combined.

In Orlando, Ross was stuck on a team that was sitting in the lottery. He was averaging 8.0 points, and 1.3 assists per game for the Magic, getting stuck behind the likes of Jalen Suggs, Cole Anthony, Markelle Fultz, and others.  After a buyout let Ross choose his next team, he made his way to the Phoenix Suns, where he bumped up his average to 9.0 points, 2.0 assists, and over 3.0 rebounds per game.

He may not be the flashiest player that the Sixers could go out and sign, but he proved last year that there is still plenty left in the tank for Ross to be a solid contributor at the shooting guard position for the Philadelphia 76ers this upcoming season. While he may not be the player he was 2-3 seasons ago, Ross is still a veteran who could provide valuable leadership and mentorship to the Sixers’ young guards.

R.J. Hampton

R.J. Hampton is similar to Terrence Ross’ story. He also seemingly fell out of the guard rotation of the Orlando Magic, was waived, and found playing time and improved his numbers on his new team. In Orlando, Hampton appeared in 26 games, playing less than 14 minutes per night. He averaged 5.7 points per game for the Magic on 43.9/34.0/83.8 shooting splits. After his release by the Magic, Hampton signed with the Detroit Pistons, where he was able to play nearly 19 minutes a night.

In Detroit, Hampton was given his first real opportunity to prove himself in a long while. He averaged only 7.3 points per game but was able to use his increased playing time to show off his three-pointing proficiency. He canned 36.5% of his shots beyond the arc on 3.0 three-pointers attempted per night.

While Hampton may not be a game-changer signing for Philadelphia, he is only 22 years old and provides a low-risk, high-reward scenario for the Sixers. If he is able to regain even a semblance of his 2020-2021 self, where he averaged 11.2 points per game, the Sixers would have an absolute steal of a player. If Hampton can’t recover back to that form, at least the Sixers will have a player at the end of the bench, ready to go in at a moment’s notice.