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Three players the Sixers should target before the NBA trade deadline

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NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at San Antonio Spurs Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

The following guest post was written by Marty Teller. You can find him on Twitter @mwteller.

As us trade nerds move past the anticipation of December 15th and make our way towards the reality of the deadline in February, we all have our eyes on that special someone. While some may think the Philadelphia 76ers just need to tinker a bit, Elton Brand’s primary target should be a second star to put next to Tobias (I kid, I kid). It’s no secret that it’s been a weird season for the Sixers. Every point someone makes about a player or team comes with an equivalent and fair counterpoint. Even the Sixers’ record, a very respectable 20-10, comes with a number of “yes, buts…” Yes, they have beaten the Celtics twice but they also lost to the Wizards. Yes, they curb stomped the Cavs at home but almost lost to the Knicks in New York. After a 13-2 stretch, they’ve now lost 3 straight for a second time this season. The constant dissonance has left many Sixers fans frustrated and checking out their preferred trade machine site (S/Otradenba.com) to find someone that can help.

But what do the Sixers need to fix what ails them? More shooting? Another ball handler? A backup stretch 5?? Robert Covington??? When you factor in the limited financial flexibility the team has this season and beyond, things get a little complicated. I put out a thread the other day to get the ball rolling, but thanks to the good people here at LB, I have a chance to walk you through what I think the Sixers should be looking for and how they may be able to get a deal done. Trades are hard so we’re going to try and keep this simple. I’m going to give you my top 3 targets, based on both what type of upgrade they would present for the Sixers and how reasonable it might be to trade for them. I’m not going to propose any multi-team trades here or argue that they should break up the starting five (I’ll save that for this summer). A couple more quick rules:

  1. Don’t listen to anyone who says things like “he’s actually bad” when talking about a player. There aren’t really any bad players in the NBA. You have to be pretty good to make it in this league. Most of the players that #NBATwitter considers bad are either miscast or asked to do things they shouldn’t be doing in the first place (bad coaching and/or bad roster construction). Which leads us to…
  2. One team’s trash can be another team’s treasure. We saw it last year with Rodney Hood. A mostly nondescript career up until that point, Hood ended up in Portland for two second rounders (and Stauskas!) and was a major factor for the Blazers upsetting the Nuggets in the 2nd round. Hell, the Sixers did this last year with James Ennis III who continues to contribute.
  3. I’m not really looking to trade Mike Scott. Besides angering the Hive, I think the Sixers need addition by addition. Adding one guy who might be able to help the rotation by taking one of our best shooters/”bombahs” away doesn’t really add up for me. I’d prefer not to trade Zhaire either (did you guys see this?), but for the right player, I would.

Alec Burks

NBA: Golden State Warriors at Utah Jazz Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

First up – Alec Burks.

My favorite Alec Burks stat from this year: 4 FTA/gm. This doesn’t sound like much but it would approximate what Ben Simmons shoots in 5 more minutes per game, and would best Tobias, Josh, and Al’s per game averages. This has been one of the most confounding parts of the season, at least for me. A team that was supposed to bully the opposition is 16th in the league in free throw attempts. Outside of Joel Embiid, there isn’t a single player on the team that seeks out contact. Burks does that and has a history of doing that. Earlier in his career (mind you, he is only 28) he had 3 consecutive seasons of over 4.5 FTA/gm. The best part? He shoots them at an 88% clip this year. The rest of the good: 36% from 3 on four attempts per game, 3 assists/per game (to just 1.5 TOV), and 1 steal.

So what’s the downside? Well first off, he’s purely a rental. He comes with no bird rights so whatever you sacrifice you do knowing he probably won’t be here next season. The bigger issue though is Burks’ health. Similar to the aforementioned Rodney Hood, he simply has not been able to stay healthy for a whole season. There was a 3-year stretch in the middle of his career where 42 games was his high mark. However, he’s played in exactly 64 games the last two years. Maybe you can catch lightning in a bottle? Since he’s on a minimum, you could send Trey Burke or Jonah Bolden + (2) seconds – probably one good one (ATL or NYK 2020) and one of the Sixers’ own. The Warriors are pick poor and should be looking to leverage this asset.

Josh Hart

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Brooklyn Nets Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports

Next – Josh Hart.

A favorite of one of my favorite twitter followers, @TScabbia, Josh makes sense on two levels. One, he’s #fromhere, but two, and more importantly, he brings the type of diverse skill set that this team needs. Imagine, adding another guy who can dribble, shoot, pass, and capably defend wings. These players do actually exist, I promise you. The stat that really matters though is this: 38% from 3 this year on 6 attempts per game. The Pelicans season is a dumpster fire and they could go a number of directions between now and February. I believe it will take at least a 1st (top 18 protected?) to get David Griffin’s attention, but because of Josh’s low salary (he has one year left on his deal as well, another positive), I believe that draft capital is the only asset you would need to give up as you could offer Trey Burke back as matching salary, with his contract not fully guaranteed until January 7th . Come home to us, Josh.

Derrick White

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Phoenix Suns Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Last, but not least – Derrick White.

The Spurs NEVER make an in-season trade. However, they’ve never really been in this position where they’re on the outside looking in on the playoff race. People who don’t watch a ton of basketball besides the Sixers will look at White’s stats and wonder what the big deal is. But he’s GOOD. He’s in the Al Horford mold of not really doing anything that jumps off the page, but when you dig in you see that the Spurs were +3.4 points per 100 possessions last year with him on the floor. He shoots it well from 3 (on not enough volume, to be fair) and has great size and instincts on defense. As a point guard, his usage is uncommonly low, which in my opinion makes him a perfect fit for the Sixers and Ben Simmons.

So how do they get him? Contractually, his situation is similar to Hart’s in that he is on his rookie deal still with one guaranteed year left after this one. The Spurs are interesting as a trade partner because you get the sense they may see things differently than other teams. Is Vasilije Micic a prospect for them? Does Furkan Korkmaz have any value to them (when combined with say a 1 st round pick)? I think White may also be one of the handful of guys I’d consider offering Zhaire Smith.

Whatever the Sixers end up doing, it’s clear we need some juice. These 3 players represent that. Your move, Elton.