76ers' Complete Guide to 2021 NBA Trade Deadline
That shows the impact made by new top executive Daryl Morey and head coach Doc Rivers. It highlights the MVP-level play of Joel Embiid, the All-Star steadiness of Ben Simmons, the quiet-but-critical strides made by Tobias Harris and the instant returns on the offseason investment in floor spacers.
But none of these qualify as reasons to sit out the trade season, which is on from now until the March 25 deadline. Given Morey's past activity levels at this time of year, the Sixers don't need to be told this.
Their roster can be improved. Yes, they might be atop the Eastern Conference standings, but they have just a two-game cushion on the third-seeded Milwaukee Bucks. Philly's plus-3.3 net rating (eighth overall) also suggests this club could be closer to really good than great.
Greatness is within striking distance, which should make this a fascinating trade season. Let's break down all the relevant information on where Philly currently stands.
Embiid is playing brilliantly (30.2 points on 52.1/41.6/85.6 shooting), Harris has never been better (20.2 on 51.3/40.2/88.7), Simmons can erupt on any night (six games with 20-plus points) and the Sixers still rank just 14th in offensive efficiency.
That speaks to by far the biggest need with this roster: a high-level perimeter shot-creator. Philly can get bogged down in the half court, and when this team needs to make something out of nothing, there aren't enough players who can find their own shots or create them for others.
Despite sitting 15th in three-point percentage (36.5), the 76ers are just 28th in three-point attempts (10.6). The issue isn't necessarily a lack of shooters, but rather a player who can create opportunities for the spot-up snipers. Philly needs another player who can break down defenders off the bounce, get into the heart of the defense and kick out to open shooters once the defense collapses.
Beyond that, the 76ers don't have many itches to scratch. A stretch big could diversify the second team offense and teams can never have too many two-way wings, but shot-creation is the clear target.
As far as contenders go, the Sixers are in a pretty good spot when it comes to trade assets.
Teams that perpetually operate in championship-or-bust mode can sometimes run short on draft picks and prospects. Neither is the case with Philadelphia.
The 76ers have all of their future first-round picks, save for the 2025 selection (top-six protected) sent to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Danny Green-Al Horford trade. Philadelphia also owns the New York Knicks' second-round pick this year and the most favorable 2023 second-rounder from the Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Hornets or Brooklyn Nets.
On the prospect front, the Sixers could turn some heads by dangling defensive stopper Matisse Thybulle or rookie scoring guard Tyrese Maxey. Both are in the rotation—though Maxey's starting to slip out of it—so it would take a big deal to pry either loose.
If there is a potential concern with Philly's trade assets, it's the lack of money-matching salaries. The Sixers have a sizable expiring contract with Danny Green ($15.4 million), but what he provides in shooting, defense and playoff experience would be hard to replace in a trade.
It shows the willingness to chase a star, of course, but do the Sixers want any star or did Morey want that star in particular? Perhaps that's a moot question, since there might not be any marquee talents on the market.
Toronto Raptors icon and Philadelphia native Kyle Lowry became the most interesting potential target when Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer said the 76ers were a "potential trade destination" if Lowry wanted a split from his current club. Save for a Bradley Beal trade, there might not be a better solution to Philly's shot-creating problem.
But it's hard to say whether the Raptors are even considering moving their floor general. It's also no less difficult to decipher how the Sixers would clear enough room to take on Lowry's expiring $30.5 million salary. If both hurdles could be cleared, though, that's a move that would vault Philadelphia into the shortest list of heavyweight contenders.
Moving down the pecking order, George Hill looms as a viable alternative if Lowry is unavailable. P.J. Tucker and Nemanja Bjelica are potential ways of scratching the stretch-big itch. Should the Sixers hunt for extra shooting, that could put Terrence Ross and perhaps former Sixer JJ Redick in the crosshairs.