Philadelphia 76ers, have only won two games in the 2015-2016 season. They are without a doubt the worst team in the league and if they continue to play how they currently are, they could possibly be the worst team since the ’97-’98 Denver Nuggets.
What is it that makes this team unable to secure multiple victories? Is it their lack of star power? Or could it be due to missing out on draft picks that would have benefited the team more? Let’s begin by discussing their “wrongdoings.” For the past three NBA drafts, the 76ers settled on three big men, three Centers. While it was okay to require Nerlens Noel, who was actually scouted at the #1 pick but went #7, in the trade with the Pelicans, it was unsure why they ended up with Embiid and Okafor over the next two years.
In the 2014 Draft, Embiid was drafted at the #3 overall by the 76ers, with prospects like Marcus Smart and Dante Exum following him, those two could have helped the Backcourt of the 76ers in current roster, where they currently have Ish Smith and Isaiah Canaan playing the Guards. Even #13 overall pick, 2015 Slam Dunk Contest winner Zach LaVine would have much more of an effect on the 76ers now than Embiid. But a trade of the once thought of future star Embiid for a progressing guard would work just as well.
In the 2015 Draft, Jahlil Okafor was also drafted at #3 by the 76ers. The 76ers were clearly on the path to take D’Angelo Russell, but that pick was taken away as the Point Guard from Ohio State was taken by the Los Angeles Lakers. Although Russell is not putting up the numbers Lakers fans were expecting, who is to say he wouldn’t put up better numbers in the Sixers jersey.
In quick thinking, instead of trading off their pick for some quality players and a later pick, the Sixers took the chance and drafted Center Jahlil Okafor from Duke University. 76ers fans were happy with this draft but did not realize that this meant the Frontcourt was fine, except at the Small Forward position, but the Backcourt still lacked. Now with these three big men as the literal big three of the team, what should the 76ers do in current time to improve their team, being trades, draft picks, or free agency?
Let’s start off with trades, with four players at the Power Forward position, one being Nerlens Noel, that leaves them with three back-up players, most likely not even giving two of them much time to play. These three PFs include Carl Landry (A veteran in the league and the oldest member of the team), Richaun Holmes (A late 2015 Draft Pick) , and Christian Wood (An undrafted rookie). Carl Landry is being paid $6.5 million to play 14 minutes a game, averaging around 9 points and 4 rebounds per game, he isn’t exactly the best player to have backing up Nerlens Noel.
The 76ers should trade this veteran for a guard, maybe someone like Corey Joseph from the Toronto Raptors. The Raptors lack at the PF position and Carl Landry (possibly along with a draft pick) for Corey Joseph would work out for both squads. As for the other two PFs, since they are just rookies they will most likely either show no signs of improvement unless an unfortunate injury occurs to Noel and they get more time to play. This means one of them will most likely not be returning to the 76ers after their contract expires.
The next deal of trades would be at the Guard position, it seems as if Kendall Marshall will be receiving way less minutes with the acquiring of Ish Smith. So he is the first of the Guards to be considered for trading. The 76ers could easily take Kendall Marshall and one of their SGs, let’s say Nik Stauskas, and trade them for two new members of that position or just one. A trade of those two and a maybe even a 2016 Draft Pick would leave the options in plentiful of trades. The best deal to imagine at this time would be Nik Stauskas, Kendall Marshall, and a 2016 Draft Pick to the Dallas Mavericks for Deron Williams. Deron Williams was great as a member of the Brooklyn Nets and even as a member of the Utah Jazz to go further back. He hasn’t found much of his old roots in Dallas but playing back in the Northeast in Philly would help out the 76ers and improve up the Backcourt.
Now onto the drafts, this is why we left out the trades for the SG and SF position. The 76ers have without a doubt, has the highest chances of pulling out with the #1 pick, or at least in the top 3. Let’s just say they have the #1 pick as the mock draft states. No matter who has the #1 pick, they will be drafting LSU star Ben Simmons. Ben Simmons is an amazing SF who is being compared to the likes of LeBron James. The 2016 draft will be just like the 2003 draft, the #1 pick is already decided, and Ben will just sit down and wait for his name to be first called. Adam Silver will read “With the first pick in the 2016 NBA draft, the Philadelphia 76ers select.. Ben Simmons from LSU.”
That is when the Small Forward position is filled. Simmons will lead the team in scoring and the 76ers would be back in the playoffs for sure. But, what if the 76ers get the #2 pick? It is a lottery, but what if the Lakers get the #1 pick? They will take Ben Simmons for sure. No need to fear, Jaylen Brown is another top scouted pick. If he doesn’t go first he will most likely go second despite Brandon Ingram being prospected at #2 pick. Jaylen Brown, of California, is compared to Jason Richardson. Brown is a 6’7 SG/SF with a 6’10 wingspan. He could play both SG and SF which drafting him would leave more options for the Sixers in the Free Agency than Ben Simmons would. But we will stick with Ben Simmons becoming a Sixer.
Now with the signing of Ben Simmons as the starting Small Forward, it is time for Free Agency and the names in Free Agency are crazy, Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Dirk Nowitzki, Andre Drummond. But, those are all players the 76ers need the least. We’ve covered the Point Guard situation, the Small Forward, the Center and Power Forward spots are filled. The last thing we need in the starting line-up is a Shooting Guard. The options for Shooting Guard are great in 2016. Dwyane Wade, Bradley Beal, Demar DeRozan, the list is full of great players. The problem with those three, would be they are most likely to return to their teams due to them liking where they’re at. However DeRozan? There’s a chance he would sign with another team, for the right amount of money. The Sixers do not have a roster member with a salary over $10 million. This gives the Sixers a lot of money in cap.
They could easily chase and offer a max 3 year + 1 year Player Option contract to the three top SGs in Free Agency, and we will believe the Sixers will go for them. As stated before, Beal and Wade would be the two most likely to resign with their respective teams. However DeRozan might be looking to leave. He refused to sign his contract extension, which does mean he is looking to see his worth in the open market. The Sixers have the cap space to sign him, the best they could do his offer him the max contract. This could give DeRozan between $20 – $22 million for 3 years, a player option, and possibly a no trade clause. With the possible signing of DeRozan, the starting line-up would be Playoff quality. But what if DeRozan declines, that would be okay. Jamal Crawford and Iman Shumpert are also in free agency, the right amount of money would lure both of them into the Sixers line-up. But due to Jamal being a bit older, we would say Shumpert will sign. However we are going to stick with DeRozan signing. Due to the amount of money they would still have, signing Shumpert as a back-up would make him great for the 7 spot. As Embiid would be the sixth man for the Sixers. Shumpert and DeRozan would be the only two needed from Free Agency to make the Sixers playoff material again.
Assuming the 76ers have resigned all their expiring deals, the line-up is looking great. The Starting line-up would be as follows:
PG- Deron Williams
SG- Demar DeRozan
SF- Ben Simmons
PF- Nerlens Noel
C- Jahlil Okafor
6- Joel Embiid
7- Iman Shumpert
With these quality players on the team, it would be only a matter of time before the team would be on track again and leading into the 2016-2017 season. The road to the Playoffs would begin. While it may not happen in the first year, in the next couple of years they could be serious threats to the Eastern Conference,. Not necessarily championship material, but good enough to make some more trades and signings to the roster to give them that final push to make it to the finals. All in all, Philadelphia fans are praying for the best in their 76ers, and we all as basketball fans can only hope the 76ers find out what they do need in order to win an NBA ring.
For any teams you would like to be featured in an article next time around, leave your suggestions! I’ll be sure to go through them!