Trade Deadline could be the Saving Grace for the Philadelphia 76ers

Amid adversity, Elton Brand booty called the Golden State Warriors and helped the 76ers acquire two very low-maintenance role players for a harmless cost. 

The Philadelphia 76ers are falling victim to a handful of undiagnosable problems, juxtaposed by a slew of disheartening losses. Following an embarrassing loss to the bottom-dwelling Atlanta Hawks, Philadelphia earned a road loss against Boston and barely showed life in Miami.
 
Because of a faulty system (courtesy of Brett Brown) and an awkwardly-fitting roster (constructed by a novice general manager), the underachieving Sixers have been publicly criticized of late.
 
 
Philadelphia’s once playful locker room seemed to avoid the public eye, but the national media’s constant scrutiny of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons has grown immense. Furthermore, Philadelphia’s allocation of money in the summer of 2019 drew widespread criticism.
 
Present-day, Philadelphia has over $500 million tied into four players, yet resides at the sixth-seed in the Eastern Conference. 
 
Despite external noise potentially bleeding into their locker room, with the addition of internal problems arising, Philadelphia can still salvage their season. The February trade deadline is often a saving grace for many organizations, and Philadelphia ensured that they did not let this opportunity pass. 
 
The 76ers acquired both Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson III from the Golden State Warriors in exchange for draft compensation. Brand managed to obtain two very effective role players for a very low-risk package, which allowed for more flexibility at the deadline. 
 

Even sweeter, Brand defeated their division rival Celtics in the sweepstakes for Burks and Robinson. 

While the two are not monumental additions, they can greatly benefit Philadelphia’s often stagnant offense. 

Alec Burks 

Burks is a nine-year veteran who has appeared in the playoffs twice in his career. The 6-foot-6 wing has a wide array of skills that will help to diversify the 76ers’ half-court offense. 

Burks’ quick and high release allows him to create windows of opportunity against opposing guards, helping him shot over 37.0% from long range in five different seasons. Burks is crafty within the perimeter, moving off-ball, handling, and exploiting mismatches. 

Burks’ blend of length and shooting capabilities allows him to hunt and attack size disparities in opponents, break defenders down, and shoot in space. He is one of the leaders among guards in post-up point scoring with 28 points there this season. 

The 28-year-old Burks can be used in a multitude of ways for Philadelphia, both on and off-ball. Burks is posting 1.21 Points Per Possession on handoff opportunities (2nd-most/NBA) while turning the ball over a minimal amount.

He amassed 53 points coming off of screens in 2019-20, which is more than the totals of Josh Richardson, Luka Doncic, and Damian Lillard. Burks’ 37 points by way of cut is a few points shy of DeMar DeRozan‘s total, despite cutting less often than him.

Major Bench Help

This type of production will be useful in Philadelphia’s second unit. That unit is currently scoring the third-least points/game league-wide. However, Burks will likely not be hunting mismatches when sharing the floor with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, because this will further contribute to the 76ers’ logjam in the paint.

Burks’ offensive game will be very useful for Philadelphia and not difficult to integrate. Burks does not move off-ball as frequently as Robinson, but nonetheless, delivers at all three levels on the floor and can handle the rock.

Ben Simmons has played well alongside a ball-handler in the half-court, and Burks is equally as cable of fulfilling this role as Josh Richardson. He should be an offensive focal point off of Philadelphia’s bench, but when playing with their crown jewel(s), he will help space the floor.

He is even well-equipped as a shooter, nailing 41.4% of his corner three-point attempts this season. Additionally, Burks is sinking over 50.0% of his pull-up jump shot attempts and hitting catch-and-shoot three-point attempts with precision.

In correlation to Philadelphia’s offensive scheme, Burks is shooting 38.3% on catch-and-shoot three-point attempts this year. This is his sixth season meeting or exceeded that mark. 

Glenn Robinson III

A former friend of the “Process-Era,” Robinson has come full circle and returns to the 76ers a different player. Although circumstance propelled Robinson to relevance this season, he logged a career-high 31.6 minutes per game with Golden State, 11.6 more minutes than his previous high.

Robinson impressed in his tenure with the Warriors. He scored a career-high 12.9 points/game on a career-high 48.1% shooting from the field. 

This is Robinson’s third season shooting 39.0% or higher from beyond the arc. He’s also set new career-highs in total assists, steals, and three-pointers made this season. His catch-and-shoot three-point percentage has climbed to 40.1% in 2019-20, which marks his fourth season shooting that successful there.

Surprisingly, Robinson has been wildly efficient in the fourth quarter for the Warriors this season. He’s logged 326 minutes in the final quarter, posting a 57.1% three-point percentage. That is tops in the NBA of players to attempt a minimum of 30 three-point shots.

His offensive rating of 109.3 in the fourth quarter ranks higher than the ones posted by LeBron James, Trae Young, and even Russell Westbrook

Robinson is athletic enough to play the two or three positions at 6-foot-6. On top of that, he should complement Philadelphia nicely in transition. He dribbles under control and does a lot of the little things on the basketball court right.

He too can shoot from the corners but has an impressive 46.0% mid-range field-goal percentage over the previous two seasons (in which over 75.0% of those shots are unassisted this year). Robinson figures to contribute to the Sixers’ bench depth and provide a spark in the second unit. 

Goodbye, James Ennis III

The Sixers stockpiled too many wings that contribute in similar ways. This is likely why the team parted ways with James Ennis as opposed to others. Zhaire Smith could benefit from Ennis’ departure, but the 76ers’ bench has a relatively new identity. Philadelphia could be an intriguing destination for players that are bought out. That remains to be seen, however.