The NBA trade deadline has come and gone, and the Philadelphia 76ers are better off than they were before. The Sixers managed to swing a deal with the Golden State Warriors for Glenn Robinson III and Alec Burks. They aren’t big names, but they’re just enough to walk away as a clear winner of the trade deadline.
While teams such as the Cleveland Cavaliers, Minnesota Timberwolves, Atlanta Hawks and Warriors may have landed higher-profile players, what the Sixers needed was bench production. Furkan Korkmaz had been the Sixers’ leading bench scorer at 9.3 points per game, and Philly ranks 27th overall in bench scoring.
In Robinson, they gained a player averaging 12.9 points and 4.7 rebounds while shooting 48.1 percent from the floor. Robinson is also shooting 40.0 percent on 3-pointers, so he’ll be bringing stellar shooting off the bench along with a big body to defend and rebound.
While grabbing Robinson was nice, adding Burks was even bigger. With Josh Richardson still nursing an injury, Burks can offer relief to a position in need. With the Warriors this season, Burks averaged 16.1 points while hitting 40.6 percent of his shots and 37.5 percent from 3-point territory. This was a much-needed addition to a team ranked in the middle of the pack in 3-point accuracy.
Both players were playing with no shot at the playoffs. Now they have something to play for and for a city that will embrace them if they can continue to play at a high level.
While some Sixers fans were hoping Elton Brand would find a trade partner for Al Horford, Brand didn’t make any drastic moves because he knew the team was still jelling and has high potential if everything comes together. Injuries, new faces and high expectations have derailed their rise to the top of the Eastern Conference. This is still a dangerous team, though, as evidenced by their 23-2 record at home. They will be even better with these new additions.
Have the Sixers become complacent? Yes, but what they needed was a shot in the arm. The team has been at their best when Ben Simmons has been all over the court. When Joel Embiid was out for nine games, Simmons took over and showed what he can do as the lead dog. Can he get back to that? Well, he has no choice, and adding more shooting to the roster should open up things for the Sixers star.
Still, how can we say the Sixers won the trade deadline when players such as Andrew Wiggins, Andre Drummond, and D’Angelo Russell were moved? That’s a simple answer.
Wiggins went to a Warriors team fighting for the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. He will score points, but the team has no shot at the playoffs and he still has that awful long-term contract. He’s a question mark moving forward as the Dubs try to return to glory in the future.
Drummond is headed to a Cleveland Cavaliers team fighting with the Warriors for the worst record in the NBA. The big man is a terrific rebounder, but he could become a free agent in the summer if he doesn’t exercise his expensive $28.8 million player option for 2020-21. Even if he does stick around, his inconsistent effort level is problematic for a player who will likely be making a lot of money.
Russell is a great scorer, but he’s now on a Timberwolves squad at the bottom of the Western Conference. Will his presence start a remarkable run this season? Almost certainly not, and there are major defensive questions about Minnesota’s core.
The Los Angeles Clippers (Marcus Morris), Houston Rockets (Robert Covington), and Miami Heat (Andre Iguodala, Jae Crowder, Solomon Hill) also made moves as they try to win a title, but they weren’t as important as what the Sixers pulled off given needs and what was given up. What other contenders made a splash? The Boston Celtics stood pat. The Los Angeles Lakers did the same, and so did with the Bucks.
It will still take some time for this to play out on the court, but adding two solid offensive players to plug your weakest hole is what the trade deadline is all about for contenders. The Sixers didn’t lose anything of great value to them because they had a ton of second-round picks at their disposal, so those didn’t mean much since they’re in championship-or-bust mode. Philly also got a second-round pick back by trading James Ennis to the Orlando Magic.
The Sixers did what they needed to do at the trade deadline, so now they must come together as a team and try to reach that high ceiling.