The Sixers' have been notorious for their poor perimeter play these last three seasons. Point guard has been the most glaring crevice in the team's roster construction, but their wing play hasn't exactly been something to write home about either. Once you move past Robert Covington (who, while a wonderful player, can barely string together consecutive dribbles) the depth on the wing has been embarrassing: Jerami Grant is a 4 shoehorned into the 3 position; Hollis Thompson can't defend or do anything outside of shooting; Nik Stauskas is not an NBA-level player; Isaiah Canaan is a 6-foot 2-guard; Sonny Weems lasted about two games before getting cut; JaKarr Sampson has the best tooth gap in the history of the world, but was almost inept on a basketball court.
It's time to bolster that group of players.
I'm of the belief that this is a great draft to supplement Ben Simmons and co. with a few defensive minded shooters at the wing positions, but that shouldn't preclude the team from also diving into free agency. Here are some options for the Sixers to explore signing, especially given their only $26 million on the books as of writing.
(With the exception of Johnson, this list focuses on bigger wings who did not fit into Jake's Shooting Guard FA Primer from last week. If I've left off a player you might want to sign, go check out his piece about potential SG's the Sixers can sign this summer.)
Yes, But Not Happening
1. Nicolas Batum, 6'8, 27 years old
Batum is an awesome two-way wing who will be completely deserving of the max contract he'll be offered this spring. However, he'll get that offer from many teams, and the Sixers are likely to be dead last in attractiveness among those suitors. Nice to dream.
1. Kent Bazemore (BAZE), 6'5, 26 years old, UFA
BAZE has seen his stock skyrocket due to his solid postseason play, and a player whom I thought to be a likely steal for most of the season now looks like it may take an overpay to sign on the open market. BAZE's biggest strength is his defense-- his long arms (6'11 wingspan) and quick feet have made him a pain when guarding 1's and 2's. His ability to guard opposing lead guards would make for an ideal fit with Simmons handling the ball. The team could play a supersized lineup with BAZE at the 1, Covington at the 3, and Simmons at the 4 that still allows them to play 4-out ball.
BAZE's two seasons in Atlanta so a noticeable uptick in his shooting ability, where he made 36% of his 3's in two seasons combined. This has allowed him to become a passable player on offense.
2. Allen Crabbe, 6'6, 24 years old, RFA
With BAZE's value inflated from his postseason play, Crabbe may be the best value on the market. He became an important cog for the Trail Blazers ALMA (After LaMarcus Aldridge), putting up 14-4-2 per 36 minutes with near 40% shooting from 3. His defense is good, but not on the same level as BAZE. He fits nicely into the NBA's pace-and-space mania, fitting the protoype for a 3-and-D wing. He would be a nice fit in just about any lineup.
3. Solomon Hill, 6'7, 25 years old, UFA
Solomon Hill was another young wing on a low-end playoff team who played well on national TV, and may be more coveted today than he was two months ago. Still, as a young-ish wing player who competes on the defensive end and offers some shooting, Hill may be worth an investment for this Sixers' team.
Hill's 3-point shot lags behind Crabbe and Hill, but the hope would be that, similarly to others who have seen an uptick in shot efficiency to match an uptick in shot quality, Hill would be the beneficiary of receiving passes from Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, allowing him to convert open looks at a higher clip than he has shown so far.
Like many Pacers in recent years, Hill's success has come on the defensive end, where his size allows him to play solid perimeter D, sporting a DBPM of 0.8 or greater in each of his first three seasons, and averaging 1.5 steals per 36 minutes in the 2015-16 season.
4. Jared Dudley, 6'7, 30 years old, UFA
The first three players on this list were all about to enter their primes and growing towards becoming their finished products. Dudley is an obvious departure from that. At 30 years old, the journeyman veteran has experienced a full 9-season career, and is likely to see his production slide over the course of his next contract. Still, if the Sixers want to use free agency to pursue veterans with strong locker room presences who can still contribute on the court, Dudley is about as good as it gets.
After a troubled season in LA, when Doc Rivers played Dudley despite well-reported injury troubles, Dudley has spent the last two years in one-season situations with the Bucks and the Wizards. In both cases, his bulk and defense has allowed his teams to slide him up to the 4 while retaining the outside shooting necessary from the wing position. Even as he has moved definitively past his prime, his per 36 numbers of 11 points, 5 rebounds, and 1.5 assists the last two years have been almost exactly his career averages.
As a respected veteran who has been around the league and knows its ups and downs, it's hard to think of a better example for the Sixers' young building blocks. While Dudley had previously commented about an unwillingness to come to Philadelphia due to the team's anemic win percentage, perhaps the change in management will convince him to change his mind.
5. Tyler Johnson, 6'4, 24 years old, RFA
More of a combo-guard than a true wing, Johnson quietly played a key role on a playoff-bound Miami team this season, before a shoulder injury knocked him out for the second half of the season. In two seasons with the Heat, he nudged his shooting percentages to a more than respectable 38% from deep, provides secondary ball handling, and has both the size to guard 2-guards and the quickness to guard 1's. He could be an ideal fit next to Simmons, as well as a productive member of a Sixers' bench unit that is woefully short on ball-handling at the moment.
As a RFA, Miami will have the option to match his contract, but between the expiring contracts for Wade, Deng, and Whiteside, and Bosh's health concerns, Johnson is unlikely to be a top priority for the Heat. Given his half-season absence from teams' periphery, he looks likely to be available should the Sixers want him.
No No No No No No No
1. Harrison Barnes, 6'8, 23 years old, RFA
Look, someone is going to max out Barnes. Teams will need to max him to lure him away from the comforts of the Golden Gate Bridge and all the Warriors have to offer him. In terms of league-wide competition, it's probably smart, in that it will weaken the greatest team of all time. But Barnes is not worth the max contract.
Barnes is a nice player who has definitely been a key contributor to Golden State this year, but he will likely never be more than a third or fourth option on offense, and his defense, while good, isn't propping up a team on its own. A player who tops out as above average on both sides of the ball and can't create for his teammates isn't worth a max contract. Hopefully the Sixers do not get tricked by his lottery pedigree and gaudy shooting percentages off of wide open 3's.
2. Dion Waiters, 6'4, 24 years old, RFA
Oh, god. Please, no. Please NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO.