Philadelphia 76ers 2014 NBA Free-Agency Big Board: Top Targets Post-Draft
Sam Hinkie is a patient man.
On June 26, the Philadelphia 76ers general manager turned the third- and tenth-overall selections in the NBA Draft into Joel Embiid and—after a bit of transactional jujitsu—Dario Saric.
The two young men have very different skill sets, but one very consequential thing in common: It’s almost certain that neither will play in the NBA in 2014-15.
Embiid is likely to miss the season with a fractured navicular bone in his right foot while Saric is contractually obligated to play his pro ball in Croatia for at least the next two years. For the 2014-15 Sixers, help is not on the way.
This considered, it seems unlikely Philadelphia will make much noise on the market this summer.
What’s the point?
For a team so wholly committed to building through the draft—through the lottery—there isn’t much utility in adding immediately helpful players in free agency. Not yet, anyway.
For, say, the Chicago Bulls, improving by six or seven wins could mean the difference between an Eastern Conference title and another lost season. For the Sixers, it just means a lower draft pick.
So the tank is on for Philadelphia. Again.
That said, the Sixers will have to do something in free agency. There are games to be played—and lost—and a group of young men will have to be in uniform to do the playing and the losing.
Here are a few of the young men the Sixers may consider.
The rest of the people don't know who Daniels is.
Which is fine. That's something close readers are going to notice about most of the Sixers' free-agent targets.
They're nobodies. Young, hungry, unproven, brimming with potential, the whole world ahead of them. At least the first three of those things. So, basically, guys like Troy Daniels.
TD, as Sixers fans may come to call him, was actually pretty productive once he got a late season call-up to Houston from the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, the Rockets' D-League affiliate.
In 75 regular season minutes in 2013-14, the sharpshooter scored 42 points and hit 12 of his 25 three-point shots.
Then, in the postseason, he was darn-near excellent. In 68 minutes spread across four games in the aforementioned Blazers' series, the 22-year-old (Daniels won't turn 23 until July 15) shot 52.9 percent from the floor and posted a win shares per 48 minutes of .209, per Basketball-Reference. The latter figure led the Rockets.
"He competes," Rockets' coach Kevin McHale told the Associated Press after Daniels' Game 3 heroics against Portland. "He dives on the floor for balls. He's a tough kid."
Daniels' appeal to Philadelphia stems not just from his production but its context. The Rockets play fast, love to shoot threes and regard mid-range shots with disdain. Under Hinkie, former Houston assistant general manager, the Sixers have done the same.
Daniels is very much a fringe prospect, but in Philadelphia, this long shot is worth a shot.
Jae Crowder turns 24 on July 6, and he's already proven himself to be a steady, capable rotation player for the Dallas Mavericks, a reasonably good basketball team. This bodes well for his future.
Crowder made a significant, though kind of covert, jump from his freshman to sophomore seasons in the NBA.
In 2013-14, his field-goal percentage jumped from 38.4 to 43.9, his true-shooting percentage ticked up to 55.1 and his win shares per 48 minutes improved from .055 to .089, per Basketball-Reference.
Crowder is in no way a fun or impressive basketball player to watch. Aesthetically, he's a non-entity. But somehow, his team plays better when he's on the floor. He's like a poor man's Shane Battier—bought secondhand on eBay from a seller with a less-than-stellar rating.
Consider the apt analysis of Mavs Moneyball's Hal Brown:
But, somehow, the Mavericks score at a rate of 108.2 points per 100 possessions with him on the court, 1.1 points better than they do on average. The Mavs defend, too, at an almost elite rate of 98.3 points allowed per 100 possessions when he's on the floor: a staggering 7.1 point improvement over the team average. He has the best net rating of any player on the team who has had a statistically significant amount of playing time (which then excludes Devin Harris from the conversation). Dallas score 9.9 points per 100 possessions more than their opponent while Jae is on the floor...and they allow 3.2 points more than they score with Jae on the bench, per NBA.com.
His numbers are good. Hinkie likes numbers. He's young. Hinkie likes young players. He should be cheap. Hinkie doesn't want to spend any money.
We may have a match here.
Jordan Hamilton is not an exciting name. (Careful readers are likely noticing a trend here.) But he has a few things going for him.
He's young (he won't turn 24 until October), cheap (he's earned a little more than $1 million in each of his first three NBA seasons) and played for the Rockets. Those are three things that make Hinkie's heart go aflutter.
More good stuff on Hamilton: The 6'7" forward is a career 35.8 percent shooter from three-point range, and with his occasionally feisty D, projects as an interesting three-and-D project.
On defense, Hamilton’s numbers from mySynergySports are solid. He doesn’t get lost, makes timely help rotations whenever needed, possesses awareness that’d make James Harden blush (on second thought, this isn’t hard to do), and has assumed various assignments throughout the season, taking on Ricky Rubio one night and Luis Scola (for a brief stretch) the next. I guess you could call that versatility.
He isn’t a psychological pest like Tony Allen or Avery Bradley, but Hamilton does a sound job forcing his man to take jump shots off the dribble (except, according to lots of footage, when that man is Lance Stephenson).
He's not a star, of course. But in a few seasons, when he's entering what might be his prime, Hamilton could be a solid veteran-role player on a contending Sixers squad.
Greg Oden and Michael Beasley
Greg Oden and Michael Beasley didn't work out for the Miami Heat. The two combined for 30 minutes of floor time in the postseason, which gives you a general sense of the regard with which Erik Spoelstra held them by the time Miami's season wrapped.
But though the outcome was a bummer, the process was right. And if there's one thing we know about Sam Hinkie—and there may actually be only one thing we know about Sam Hinkie—it's that he's crazy about the process.
The Heat took a smart gamble with the pair. Oden and Beasley, disappointing careers aside, are still big-time talents who are young enough to turn their careers around. And a year later, they still are.
Oden, 26, and Beasley, 25, might not contribute much right away in Philadelphia, but the No. 1 pick in the 2007 draft and the No. 2 pick in the 2008 draft, respectively, would get an opportunity to rebuild their games under the tutelage of the Sixers' whip-smart coaching staff in a low-pressure environment.
What's in it for Philadelphia? Oh, just a crack at solving the riddle—and reaping the benefits of said solving—of two high-upside players who were better last season than is widely understood, even by, apparently, their coach.
According to Basketball-Reference, Beasley posted the highest true shooting percentage of his career while Oden notched a win shares per 48 minutes figure that was 19 percent better than league average.
If Oden and Beasley resurrect their careers in Philly, the Sixers get a pair of really capable rotation pieces for when they're (finally) ready to contend. If the pair fails to do so, well, more ping pong balls. Heads they win, tails they tie.
Okay. There's one player we can sort of say with some kind of confidence that the Sixers are looking at this offseason: Avery Bradley.
According to Yahoo's Marc Spears, the Sixers have put in a call to Bradley's people to gauge the guard's interest in joining the worst team in basketball.
Philadelphia's curiosity is reasonable. Bradley is 23, plays defense with lunatic intensity and hit 39.5 percent of his three-point shots last season. These are some mighty fine traits.
Still, Bradley seems an odd fit on the Sixers at this early stage of the franchise's rebuild. Simply put, he might not be quite good enough to justify his salary the market will bear. Liberty Ballers' Michael Levin put it like this [sic]:
He's certainly better than most of the guard options the Sixers have on their roster, but I'm not sure he's better enough to spend the kind of money it'll cost to get him, at least for this particular team. He would be a fun compliment to Michael Carter-Williams, though, and seeing as the Sixers have the money to spend, maybe using an MLE-esque deal on Bradley isn't the worst thing.
Avery Bradley: not the worst thing.
Oh well, there's always next season, Sixers fans. Or 2017.