Ben Simmons City Edition 20-21

After rumors circulated for some time regarding young Atlanta Hawks wing Cam Reddish’s availability in a trade, a shoe finally dropped in Atlanta as they look to reshape themselves amid a disappointing season. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Duke product and Philly native is headed to New York:

On the surface, it’s an underwhelming deal for the Hawks. They trade a top-10 pick in the 2019 draft who has shown promise for a top-10 pick from the 2018 draft, whose backside has been glued to the bench in New York for the better part of his career, and a first-round pick that could potentially convert into a pair of second-round picks if not conveyed before 2026, according to Wojnarowski.

Upon further review, the deal makes a little more sense. Atlanta had a logjam of wings on its roster and didn’t intend to pay Reddish what he thought he was worth at the expiration of his rookie deal. They got back a draft asset that they can use as a sweetener in other packages as the trade deadline draws near.

Given the price the Knicks paid for Reddish, there is a sect of Sixers fans who are distressed by Philadelphia’s failure to capitalize on that opportunity. It’s not unreasonable frustration. The Sixers sorely lack athleticism on the wings. But despite a career-high in usage, the forward is nothing of a playmaker. Cleaning The Glass shows that Reddish is quite a good defender at the forward spots, and he led the Hawks in deflections per game this season.

Reddish has shown linear progress as a scorer throughout his first two-and-a-half seasons in the NBA. However, the occasional highlight-reel move sticks with viewers more than the numbers do, it seems. Reddish is connecting on 37.4 percent of his triples (70th percentile for forwards). But, he’s hitting on just 41.9 percent of his twos (dreadful). His effective field goal percentage is in the bottom-20th percentile for forwards. Beyond that, his true shooting percentage is below the league’s average, so he’s not getting to the free throw line despite his size and athleticism. All of these fancy numbers quantify that Reddish is neither an efficient shooter nor an efficient scorer at this stage of his career.

His shot distribution favors the three-point line. That theoretically fits what the Sixers need on the wings. Behind the three-point shooting, there’s a healthy balance of midrange attempts and shots at the rim in his diet. The problem is that Reddish is only converting 30 percent of his midrange looks (20th percentile) and 57 percent of his shots at the rim (29th percentile).

So, the 22-year-old is basically only effective shooting threes right now. That isn’t to say his ceiling isn’t high. He has shown promise in creating space off of drives for self-provisioned scores and has very smooth mechanics. If given enough reps, he should grow into a fixture for any offense. But, the Sixers just aren’t at a spot where they can wait for young wings to grow over multiple seasons.

But this takes a trade chip off the board in a potential Ben Simmons deal to Atlanta. The Hawks still have a plethora of guards and forwards — such as Bogdan Bogdanovic, Danilo Gallinari, De’Andre Hunter, Kevin Huerter, and John Collins — who could interest Philly. Hunter seems unlikely because he’s a defensive-minded forward capable of stepping out and stretching the floor. He can theoretically do exactly what the Hawks need at a more cost-effective price.

Bogdanovic is a wonderful fit. But, he’s often sidelined with injuries and only has one more season left on his contract. Gallinari is another strong fit. But, he only has one season left on his deal, too. Unless it’s a complex three-team deal, it’s hard to envision a two-team scenario where both of them are going up North in a deal that satisfies Philly. Huerter supplies some shot-creation abilities and is a capable scorer at 6-foot-7. He’s an ideal secondary piece in a deal.

John Collins

The really interesting piece in Atlanta is John Collins. He’s an above-average playmaker for a big. But for fans who continuously complain about Tobias Harris’ shot profile, Collins operates mostly at the midrange and rim levels. So, he’s taking similar shots to what Harris takes. The difference is that Collins’ output across twos and threes is quite strong. He profiles as an exceptionally-efficient shooter and scorer. The more important question might be whether or not his upgraded offensive fit outweighs his uninspiring defense

Even if the Sixers were to entertain a deal for Collins, that likely means they have to find a package to send Tobias Harris out. Harris just cannot play small forward, and Collins is most definitely a power forward or small-ball center. Perhaps not-so-coincidentally, rumors suggest that the Sixers have conveyed an interest in trading Harris recently.

As far as Simmons is concerned, he would immediately improve their 28th-ranked defense. With Trae Young as the featured shot-creator and ball-handler, Atlanta would ostensibly weaponize Simmons as a screen-and-dive playmaker in their half-court offense. My skepticism comes with the Hawks’ religious usage of Double-Drag actions with Young. If you have Simmons on the floor, you can’t run Double-Drag with he and Clint Capela. One of your bigs must be able to space out to the three-point line and shoot.

Perhaps moving Collins out for Simmons would enable the Hawks to move Hunter into the starting power forward spot. But, Simmons isn’t a small forward. So, perhaps the plan would be to turn Simmons into a small-ball center (which, hasn’t worked when tried in Philly) and ship Capela out (who, Jake Fischer reports, is unavailable in trade talks). Maybe they plan to bring Simmons off the bench. But, I have trouble believing that Rich Paul would be satisfied with one of his featured clients playing that role on a team that is below .500.

Simmons remains a target for Atlanta ahead of the trade deadline, a source told The Painted Lines. Simmons would have no qualms with going to the Hawks. Collins has been discussed as part of the framework heading to Philadelphia in trade talks.