The most advantageous aspect of carrying a roster with little to no talent is that almost any addition will look suspiciously like an upgrade. Player development often gets confused with the idea of playing several young players a lot of minutes and the truth is that some players never improve and some lose confidence against superior NBA opponents.
A team like the Philadelphia 76ers, though, has the advantage of being able to provide playing time to prove a player’s worth in the league. Just as Tony Wroten did this year, there are more players in the future who will benefit from being moved to teams lacking roster depth.
There is no way of knowing what the 76ers front office has in store for next season. Will they be trying to field a competitive team or will they be content with another year in the Eastern Conference cellar? Free agency is for dreamers as no worthwhile player is looking at Philadelphia as a landing spot right now. Throwing money at mid-level players worked out horribly for the Milwaukee Bucks this year and is generally seen as a gross misuse of the cap, so it would be surprising to see Hinkie, a renowned analytics man, indulge in the mid-level market.
What I do expect to see, however, are the type of trash-to-treasure bargain deals that acquired Tony Wroten, Royce White and the rights to Furkan Aldemir. White is now on the Kings and Aldemir is still playing for Galatasary in Turkey, but the expenditure on these three players amounts to a heavily protected 2nd rounder to the Memphis Grizzlies (which will never be invoked), a trade exception and cash considerations to the Houston Rockets. All in all, three unwanted players acquired for virtually nothing in return.
These players were either salary dumps for a team looking to make bigger moves (Houston maneuvering to claim Dwight Howard) or an unwanted project drafted by a previous regime (Tony Wroten). There is profit to be had in the impatience of others, not to mention some teams just not seeing the talent they have on their own roster. Tobias Harris was shipped out of Milwaukee last season as a throwaway in the J.J. Redick deal and was a nobody they had drafted in the first round the season before. He proceeded to finish the year in Orlando averaging 18 points and nine rebounds.
With the world’s largest supply of second round picks, you can be sure Philadelphia will be looking at the bottom ends of rosters for these types of oversights. Here are some players who, in my opinion, are candidates to be overlooked in a similar manner this offseason.
Evan Fournier/Quincy Miller – Denver Nuggets
Easily the most accomplished players in this list, I would be very surprised if both Fournier and Miller available. However, Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler both will return to the playing rotation in Denver next season and one of these young guards/forwards will likely get buried in the depth chart. Miller is the more likely candidate, being a less productive member of the rotation. The inefficient but talented 21-year-old could find himself as an odd man out in Denver’s ongoing rebuild to a more traditional playing style under Brian Shaw. While we can never be sure of a team’s priorities, there seems to be no inherent allegiance to members of the Masai Ujiri/George Karl Denver Nuggets of 2013.
Archie Goodwin – Phoenix Suns
Goodwin, a member of Nerlens Noel’s underwhelming Kentucky team in 2013, is still only 19 years old and is the second youngest player in the league right now (behind Giannis Antetokounmpo). Drafted in the bottom end of last year’s first round, Goodwin is an athletic, 6’5″, 2-guard who can’t shoot (12 percent from three-point range!) and whose minutes have decreased every month this year. Whether this is a sign of Phoenix’s increasing urgency in the playoff race or a sign of his poor development remains to be seen. He is in a very similar position to Tony Wroten last year: a big time high school recruit stuck on the edges of a good NBA team having played only one year in college. Phoenix is loaded with assets (possibly four first round picks) and have the potential to make an array of moves this offseason. Peripheral players get lost in the shuffle of big trades all the time and Archie Goodwin fits the Sixers’ style better than most.
Tony Mitchell – Detroit Pistons
The hyper-athletic forward out of North Texas is stuck at the very bottom of the Detroit Pistons roster. With Joe Dumars resigning this offseason, Mitchell will soon become a project from a previous regime. His vast physical attributes are the reason he was drafted and he stands at 6”9 with a 7”3 wingspan and dunk contest-level athleticism. However, he is stuck on a bad team behind players with similar but superior qualities. Detroit has as good a frontcourt as a lottery team can get with the poorly aligned combination of Josh Smith, Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe.
If the new Pistons’ front office is looking to ship out the former regime’s trash, a new team could be in for a steal.
Kyle Quinn/Andrew Nicholson/Doron Lamb – The Orlando Magic Bench
With another high lottery pick on it’s way, the Magic will most likely draft a player who features heavily in the rotation from day one. In this likely scenario, depending on the position of that player, one of Kyle Quinn, Andrew Nicholson and/or Doron Lamb could be jettisoned. The Orlando Magic front office is neither rash nor shortsighted, but there are only so many projects a team can hold at one time. Two years into a rebuild, the urgency will start to emerge for the Magic who should look to make a playoff push next season.
If any of these players are to be had as throwaways, they could work in the Sixers’ rotation. Nicholson especially is the type of old-fashioned post player who could do well alongside a Nerlens Noel style defense-first center.
Tags: Philadelphia 76ers