Spencer Hawes, Evan Turner and Thaddeus Young are all having career years, even while Philadelphia continues to lose games. Philly now has the choice to get rid of some or all of them while they are playing their best basketball, or to hold onto them for the future.
If Hinkie believes that the players currently on the Sixers' roster have what it takes to have major success in the future, then he should hold on to them. If that's the case, though, then what was the point of practically publicly proving that Philadelphia would be tanking this season?
Failing to move any of Philly's three best trade assets would go against everything that Hinkie has been doing and saying up to this point. The next issue comes down to which of the three players should get traded?
Here's a look at each player and my opinion on whether the Sixers should sell high on them while they are playing their best basketball.
The hard part about getting rid of a guy like Hawes is that you can't really knock him on much. He isn't asked to do anything other than be a post defender and glue guy on offense, yet he somehow finds himself averaging 14.8 points, 8.8 rebounds and shooting 49.0 percent from the field, including 44.1 percent from three-point range.
Hawes won't likely be the guy to take over a game, but he'll always be there to keep a team in one.
The Sixers have to both love and be surprised with what he's given them thus far. He's arguably playing like a top-five center in the NBA, and still he's not on many people's radar.
At 25 years old, Hawes isn't anywhere near his future falloff point. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like there's much more that he can be doing, either. Combine the two facts and it appears as though the 2013-14 Hawes is about as good as he'll ever get.
It's for that very reason that Philadelphia should look to move him to another team who could better utilize him in its future. Do your best to look about three years down the road, and ask yourself if you see one where he's helping the Sixers in a way similar to how he is now.
Nerlens Noel's imminent return will push Hawes back to the bench and only hurt his production. Striking while the iron is hot and trading him now is in both his and Philadelphia's best interest.
If one of these three guys is going to be wearing a Sixers jersey after the trade deadline, then it has to be Young.
There's no other option.
Philadelphia needs to be smart about this and look at Young for more than what he's able to do on the basketball court. His intelligence and unselfishness can't be valued enough. He is once again in a situation in which very few plays are run with the goal of getting him the ball, and he hasn't once complained or been distraught over it.
Instead, he gives everything he has and finds ways to contribute despite having a smaller offensive responsibility than some of the other Sixers.
Another reason to keep Young is for how well he can fit into the team's future plans. If everything goes as planned and Philly is able to select one of the top prospects in the upcoming draft, then nothing changes for Young. Apart from the University of Kentucky's Julius Randle, the majority of the best collegiate players are point guards, shooting guards and small forwards. Bringing one in won't push Young back on the depth chart.
In fact, how does a starting five like this sound:
|Michael Carter-Williams||James Anderson/Draft Pick||Jabari Parker/Andrew Wiggins||Thaddeus Young||Nerlens Noel|
There are a variety of reasons why keeping Young would be better than trading him, but two of the most important are his future fit and personality. The Sixers have a future mentor who happens to be extremely productive on their roster and trading him away would be a big mistake.
Only one of the men listed in this article is a must to be traded, and that guy is Turner.
What's the reason? It's actually quite simple: He's the only one who won't have much success if he isn't the focal point of a team. His 2013-14 numbers are almost all career-highs and it's because he is the go-to guy. A large majority of the offense is run with the intent of putting the ball in Turner's hands. It's no knock on him, but there's a good chance of him falling back into obscurity if he isn't able to have this role.
What should the Sixers do with their trade assets?
His first three years in the league consisted of inconsistent play and questions about his value. His average 13.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists during the 2012-13 season were solid numbers, but did nothing toward helping the Sixers win basketball games. Turner was also the second and sometimes third option behind Jrue Holiday and Thaddeus Young.
Fast-forward to the present day and you see he's averaging 19.6 points, 6.7 rebounds and 4.2 assists. His scoring is up because the offense is being run through him, and he's taking 4.3 more shots per game. If Turner went back to being one of the secondary options, then all signs would point toward a big decrease in both production and play.
The problem with Turner is that he isn't too valuable unless he's the No. 1 guy. He also doesn't do anything overly special when he is given the nod to be the first option.
If Philadelphia is seriously looking to use the 2014 draft to select a future superstar who has the potential to be the face of the organization, then Turner has no business being in the team's plans. He's not the kind of guy to succeed as the second fiddle.
Turner's game has certainly hit a new high. It's now time for the Sixers to capitalize on his success and focus on building a future with stronger pieces than they currently have.
All statistics in this article are accurate as of games played through Jan. 4.