Now that we know Kevin Durant is remaining in Brooklyn, Donovan Mitchell is a Cavalier and Doc Rivers got his veteran big in Montrezl Harrell, the weeks leading up to training camp (Sept. 27) should be relatively quiet.
Sources have told Liberty Ballers that the Sixers do not have interest in a player like Jordan Clarkson, and a surprise player would have to become available for a trade to occur between now and opening night. The team is comfortable with its roster heading into camp.
With all that said, I threw out the bat signal for mailbag questions and you folks had some good ones. Let’s get to ‘em!
Hey Paul, which player new player do you think will make the biggest impact? Do you think Doc will still stay away from the younger players?— Andres Torres (@TAndres456) September 5, 2022
To your first question, I think it’s unquestionably P.J. Tucker. The defensive versatility, toughness and shooting (as well as some sneaky good stuff off the bounce) are going to be welcomed additions to a team that could use all of those things. For years it felt like the Sixers lacked guys that were just basketball players — meaning they can do a little bit of everything on a basketball court and not just a specialized skill. De’Anthony Melton and Danuel House Jr. somewhat fit that mold as well. With respect to players like Matisse Thybulle and Furkan Korkmaz, who have excelled on one end of the court, it’ll be nice for the Sixers to have players that have weaknesses but not weaknesses that will make them unplayable come playoff time.
For your second question, I think the signing of Harrell partially answers that. I don’t want to belabor the excellent points already made by our Dave Early and Bryan Toporek, but there is likely no one happier that Harrell is a Sixer than Doc Rivers. It’s hard to envision a postseason scenario where Harrell struggles and Doc pulls the plug, which is concerning. You have to give Rivers credit for going with Paul Reed last postseason over DeAndre Jordan as the primary backup five though. And Harrell should give this team a big boost during the regular season. Another wrinkle to this: James Harden recruited Harrell. It’s clear Harden wanted a veteran, elite roller and Harrell is most definitely that. When a player of Harden’s stature sacrifices money in order to facilitate roster moves, it’s only fair for him to have a say.
When I look at the “younger players” on the roster, I’m not sure any outside of Reed will be viewed as viable options to Rivers. Joel Embiid will inevitably miss time and you’d have to imagine Reed splits those minutes with Harrell. I’m not sure what the team’s view of Charles Bassey is, honestly. He did struggle in summer league, but better guard play might’ve helped him. I continue to be a fan of Isaiah Joe and think he fits the 3-and-D archetype better than any other 10th-man candidate, but I don’t believe Doc agrees. Jaden Springer still has a very long way to go on the offensive end of the floor.
Who’s better and who’s on the team longer? Bassey or Bball Paul— Banky Edwards (@davedeuces) September 5, 2022
As a Kevin Smith fan, I enjoy your name and avatar.
This is a really difficult question to answer. As a five, I would’ve told you I liked Bassey more last season, but Reed clearly offers more versatility. Rivers has said on several occasions that he believes Reed’s NBA position will ultimately be the four. I’m not sure that helps him see the floor this season with veteran options like Tucker, Tobias Harris and Georges Niang in the mix. Reed plays with a ton of energy and provides a boost on the offensive glass, components that could separate him and get him burn. I would like to see Bassey get NBA minutes with legit NBA guards like Harden and Tyrese Maxey. Alas, that doesn’t seem like it will happen.
As I already mentioned, the acquisition of Harrell likely means Reed won’t get as many minutes as anticipated. It also puts Bassey’s roster spot in jeopardy as a player on a partially-guaranteed deal. Given that, I’d have to think Reed’s long-term prospects with the Sixers are better. I like both players and think they both have a shot to be rotational players — here or elsewhere.
Could Furkan be packaged with a pick to pick up another young player (possibly another wing)? If so, are there any possible targets— BigJewWineDrinker ✡️ (@AbaddonMark) August 31, 2022
As I mentioned in the intro, the Sixers are comfortable with their roster as it stands. With that said, the most obvious avenue to a trade is moving Korkmaz and/or Thybulle. There was obviously a lot of trade buzz around Thybulle during the draft — especially as it pertained to Eric Gordon — but nothing came to fruition.
While the Sixers were open to trading Thybulle, they didn’t want to give him away. The same can be said for Korkmaz. Neither player’s name will elicit much excitement from the fan base right now, but both players have had their moments. Thybulle has made the All-Defensive Second Team as a reserve two years in a row. Korkmaz had a brutal 2021-22, but he was coming off two seasons where he shot a combined 39 percent from three on just a tick under five attempts a game. Both players are on reasonable contracts, a big part of the reason both would make sense to be moved.
At this point, a trade would seem much more likely at the deadline. Ideally, if you’re looking at wings — which I believe is the right thing to look at given their scarcity — it will be players on expiring deals on teams that won’t be contenders. I’ve seen the name Terrence Ross thrown out there, which does little for me. I feel similarly about Kelly Oubre Jr. Maybe someone like Justin Holiday could make sense if the Hawks struggle, but I’m not sure he’s much of an upgrade over House. All of this to say, I think it makes sense to see how this roster shakes out and see where your potential holes are — but I personally would like a player like Clarkson that could provide extra ball handling and microwave scoring off the bench.
Do you think we’ll see less of an emphasis on 3’s and more on drive and get fouled aka traditional 3 point plays, or will Harden, Maxey etc be firing away?— ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ (@gregor2283) August 31, 2022
Threes, threes and more threes. For starters, that’s just where the game has been headed and I don’t see it going back any time soon. Secondly, for the Sixers, it’s likely more important for them than most teams to take and make threes given their best player is Embiid.
And with those two players in particular, please, fire away. Maxey wound up finishing third in the NBA in three-point percentage on a healthy volume (4.1). You see how the threat of Maxey’s shot makes his speed even more dangerous. He was able to burn Toronto’s ultra-aggressive defense in the first round of the playoffs pretty regularly. I expect him to keep expanding his range and fire when open.
As for Harden, you absolutely want him taking a high volume of threes. His step-back shot sort of revolutionized the game and made him one of the most dangerous offensive players of all time. If healthy, he should have the torque to hit on a much better percentage of those this season. Similar to Maxey, Harden’s ability to make threes makes him infinitely more dangerous, especially in the pick-and-roll. I will say Harden has to be way more willing to take catch-and-shoot threes. It was jarring to see the ball swing his way off Embiid doubles only for him to pass it up. That has to change if that superstar duo hopes to succeed.