It is widely accepted that the Philadelphia 76ers have a punchers chance to make the NBA finals based on sheer talent, but no one is favoring them to take out the Eastern Conference.
However, someone who would almost certainly put them over the top is Anthony Davis. The catch is, it would take parting with Ben Simmons to get him.
Simmons is no doubt an incredible player in the league, but he can’t shoot the basketball. We saw how much this can be exploited when Brad Stevens and the Boston Celtics used Simmons’ lack of shooting to take him out of the game in the second round of last year’s playoffs.
The trade for Jimmy Butler put the 76ers on a clock, and was the official end the ‘the process.” That leaves less time for Simmons to develop a shooting ability. Flipping him for Anthony Davis would, in my opinion, make the 76ers instant favorites to be the Eastern Conference champions.
DeMarcus Cousins was regarded as the best big man in the game when he joined forces with Davis in New Orleans. The two became one of the deadliest duos in the league, all before Cousins went down with a ruptured achilleas.
It seemed Davis was alright with taking a step back in order to achieve team success, which I believe would be the same case if the 76ers were to pair Davis and Embiid. Replacing Simmons with Davis would give the 76ers an advantage over every team in the league. The pair would draw most of a team’s attention, leaving an All-Star in Jimmy Butler with as much freedom as he has ever had. It would also give J.J. Redick more opportunity to find open looks.
Providing Markelle Fultz returns, it wouldn’t be crazy to add him back in to the starting line-up. As a good playmaker and defender, it would make him a good fit in the starting role. Although Fultz isn’t much better of a shooter than Simmons, he‘d have a far lesser role in the offense. This leaves TJ McConnell to continue thriving in his spark plug role off the bench.
The 76ers could throw out a potential starting line-up like this:
G – Markelle Fultz
G – J.J. Redick
F – Jimmy Butler
F – Anthony Davis
C – Joel Embiid
And sure, there is no certainty’s that this team would work, but it gives them the greatest chance to win a championship, or multiple.
Now to the side of the Pelicans. They get a 21-year-old superstar who can be their second chance and help them become a potential playoff team. Pairing a Simmons and Jrue Holiday backcourt would arguably be one of the better 1-2 punches in the league, especially on the defensive end. Provided the Pelicans search for a better second unit, Simmons could put the Pelicans in a better spot than they have been with Davis in their seven-year run.
If Elton Brand calls Dell Demps and puts Simmons on the board, I’m sure it would be a far better offer than any team could throw together, including the limitless assets held by Danny Ainge and the Boston Celtics.