The Sixers have been one of the best teams of the 2020-21 NBA season, as dominant play from Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and a great supporting cast has lead Philly to a 1-seed with a 30-13 record more than halfway through the season.
Despite being one of the best teams in the league right now, the Sixers have a number of needs they could address at the trade deadline, which is on Thursday at 3 p.m. ET.
The news on Embiid’s injury is encouraging, as it appears to just be a bone bruise that he can recover from in a few weeks, according to Stadium’s Shams Charania.
Our #NBA Insider @ShamsCharania shares details on Joel Embiid's injury and more on the @sixers. pic.twitter.com/qstC1uLJff
— Stadium (@Stadium) March 21, 2021
Embiid was playing at an MVP level before the injury, as the former Kansas Jayhawk is averaging 29.9 points per game, 11.5 rebounds per game and 3.3 assists on 52.5 percent shooting.
Backup bigs in Tony Bradley and Dwight Howard have been fine in Embiid’s absence, but even when he comes back, the Sixers could use another playmaking big like Nemanja Bjelica, Nicolo Melli, Mike Muscala, or Ersan Ilyasova.
Having Embiid playing at that MVP level puts Philly in the title conversation, but even when he returns from injury, the Sixers could use another ball-handler who can create his own shot and carry the load when Embiid and/or Simmons are out.
While the Sixers are one of the best teams in the league defensively, their offense drops off immensely when either of their two All-Stars are off the floor.
When looking at offensive rating, the Sixers are twelve points worse when Embiid is off the floor (117.9 t0 105.5) and five points worse when Simmons is not playing (113.7 t0 108.3).
After being a key piece for title teams in the past few years, Danny Green has looked like a shell of himself. And with Seth Curry possibly being out for a bit with a high ankle sprain and being inconsistent when healthy, the Sixers are in need another playmaking guard.
Sixers need Shot-Creators
Having Embiid and Simmons on your team and only being an average offensive team is disgraceful, and as Kyle Neubeck of Philly Voice pointed out earlier this month, they have the shooters to make open threes, they just can’t get a ton of great looks.
They would have to give up quite a bit to get a shot-creator like Kyle Lowry or Lonzo Ball, with the former also being heavily coveted by other title contenders, according to the New York Times’ Marc Stein.
Must add here that the prospect of Toronto trading Kyle Lowry, six times an All-Star, still looms as a possibility as the deadline nears.
Lowry made it clear he hopes to retire as a Raptor someday, but sources say interest in the free agent-to-be (Philly/Miami/others) persists.
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) March 21, 2021
While the Sixers don’t have a ton of assets to give up for a guy with the pedigree of Lowry, there’s a lot of cheaper options they can target.
Delon Wright of the Detroit Pistons (10.5 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 5.1 apg) could be a perfect fit, as his ability to get to the rim and find shooters have been on display for a struggling Motor City squad.
Sixers GM Daryl Morey has reportedly been interested in both Wright and George Hill, another veteran point guard who has been good in a lot of big games.
San Antonio’s Patty Mills, who the team has reportedly been interested in since November, could be another option that could provide the Sixers with an offensive spark.
The addition of any of these guards would not only make life easier for the Sixers stars, but it would definitely take some pressure off Philly’s second unit.
While the Sixers bench has been good as of late, outscoring opposing teams’ second units over the past seven games, adding another shot-creating guard can alleviate stress on Shake Milton and Matisse Thybulle.
Wright, Hill or Mills could run the point in crunch time, allowing the Sixers to use Simmons as an elite roll man in the pick-and-roll and freeing up space for the MVP candidate in Embiid to keep cooking.
Adding that veteran presence and taking pressure off the young guys on the bench can elevate the Sixers, upgrading them from a contender to make it out of the East to the favorite to make it out of the East.