When the Philadelphia 76ers traded away veteran Spencer Hawes to the Cleveland Cavaliers at the trade deadline, they weren't expecting a huge haul in return. At the time, the fanbase was elated that the center was dealt for just a pair of second-round picks. The fact the 76ers also received two players at the end of Cleveland's bench was an added bonus. Those two players were Earl Clark and Henry Sims.
Clark was immediately bought out by the organization, his $4.25 million salary apparently worth more to the 76ers in a buyout than actually having him on the court. Henry Sims, on the other hand, has been given the opportunity to compete.
According to HoopsHype.com, Sims is making $788K this year and is not under contract next season. The 76ers will have a decision to make regarding his future with the team, but Sims has proven he has earned another deal—whether in Philadelphia or somewhere else.
Far from a finished product, Sims brings a diverse skill set to the table head coach Brett Brown should be able to utilize in his rotation. As the roster stands now, Sims has played his way into being the first big off the bench and backup for rookie center Nerlens Noel when he returns from his injury.
Sims went undrafted out of Georgetown in 2012. He saw action in two games with the New Orleans Hornets, tallying four points in just five minutes of play. He signed with Cleveland in September where he floated back and forth between the Cavaliers and the Canton Charge, their D-League affiliate. He averaged two points in just over eight minutes per game in Cleveland before being traded to Philadelphia.
Sims has blossomed since the trade. He's averaging 11.8 points and seven rebounds in 26 minutes per game. His per-36-minute stats put him at 15.8 points and over nine rebounds per game, via Basketball Reference. That's where established veterans like Greg Monroe (15 points and nine rebounds), Pau Gasol (17 points and nine rebounds) and the 2014 version of Tim Duncan (15 points and nine rebounds) are currently producing with similar playing time.
He's nowhere near the talent level of those guys, but that doesn't mean the 6'10" Sims with his 7'4" wingspan can't be of value to the 76ers going forward.
In this highlight against Sacramento, Sims can be seen running the floor and finishing strong on the fast break. He catches the ball in stride from point guard Michael Carter-Williams, outruns defenders and finishes clean at the hoop.
He's active on both sides of the ball. His rebounding is aided by his aggression and athleticism. He's constantly around the basket, routinely outmaneuvering and outhustling DeMarcus Cousins and Jason Thompson. His energy, not his technique, is the foundation of his game and what allows him to be a solid rebounder.
His offensive output is still very much reliant on his ability to finish at the rim and attack from inside the restricted area. He's currently shooting just 50 percent from inside the paint, a number that will go up with some refinement and added post moves. He's shooting 47 percent overall during his 23-game run with the 76ers, and as you can see from his shot chart, has been doing pretty well from the right side. He's shooting 50 percent on mid-range jumpers from that space. If he can keep that shot consistent and improve around the rim, he can become a viable offensive option.
In a March 22 game against Chicago, Sims snagged a career-high 15 rebounds to go along with his 18 points. He drove against Carlos Boozer and finished at the rim with both hands, which is impressive for a young big. He repeatedly showed touch on jump hooks from the post.
Even against the much better defender Taj Gibson, Sims beat him with a nice up-and-under move, receiving the entry pass with his back to the basket and proceeding to go to work. He's also an adept passer, routinely finding the open man.
His best game of the season came in Boston earlier this month when he scored a career-high 24 points and pulled down nine rebounds. He confidently knocked down a mid-range jumper from the top of the key, sank 14 of 18 free-throw attempts and caught a ball on the bounce in transition and finished the fast break, showing his versatility.
Brown said it best when analyzing Sims' career night for reporters, per Christopher Vito of the Delaware County Daily Times:
“He was in a bull mode, a really aggressive attack mode,” Brown said of Sims. “He’d bury his head and try to get to the rim at all costs. In the first half, I thought he’d rush things when he was at a block. When he turns and faces things, he can catch and go, and play out of a dribble-handoff game at the top of the key area. He has a surprising first step and a fantastic mentality. With that it produced an aggression attack.”
He needs to work on his body control offensively. Sometimes he puts together a nice post move and finishes with touch, other times he soars for an offensive rebound and throws up a wild layup attempt. He seems to have a natural-looking stroke, but he needs to make that a consistent threat for opposing defenses (which is a theme for most on this team), especially if he and Noel are on the court at the same time. If that jumper isn't consistent, the two of them could cause spacing issues offensively.
No one knows what general manager Sam Hinkie will do with his roster come next season, but Henry Sims has earned the chance to come back. He's a solid big off the bench who can provide energy, rebounding and hustle. His best days are ahead of him.