Philadelphia 76ers Could Target Wings at NBA Trade Deadline

Dec 5, 2015; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Portland Trail Blazers guard C.J. McCollum (3) against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center. The Trail Blazers defeated the Timberwolves 109-103. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 5, 2015; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Portland Trail Blazers guard C.J. McCollum (3) against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center. The Trail Blazers defeated the Timberwolves 109-103. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports /

The Philadelphia 76ers could target wing players at the trade deadline.

One month. On Feb. 18, the NBA trade deadline will arrive and teams will voraciously conjure up deals in order to bolster their lineups or build for the future. For the Philadelphia 76ers, this could be the first deadline in years they could make both of the aforementioned scenarios a reality.

Both in 2014 and 2015, general manager Sam Hinkie made Philadelphia a haven for players with egregious contracts. Teams dumped veterans (Danny Granger, JaVale McGee), and the 76ers reaped the benefits of the sweeteners added into the deals. With the second-lowest salary in the association, per HoopsHype, Hinkie could restock his depleted second-round stash of picks or even pick up another first-round pick.

However, what complicates the projection of Philadelphia’s future deals is associated with the addition of 76ers’ chairman of basketball operations Jerry Colangelo. Instead of continuing to shelve talent for assets, Philadelphia has made two additions to bring in veteran talent within the past month.

With Ish Smith overhauling the Sixers’ offensive attack (16.9 PPG, 7.5 APG, 18.8 PER) and Elton Brand providing evidential veteran support on the bench during games, Philadelphia looks like a changed organization. They might be small but impactful additions, but Hinkie has the chance to upgrade his roster additionally; with long-term benefits.

It doesn’t look to be plausible that Hinkie, and co. now, targets another power forward or center with the abundance of bigs fixated on the roster. Smith, also, has garnered substantial time at lead guard, with his stellar play in just 11 total games. Leaving the wing slots open for targeting, there are young and enticing commodities on the market.

C.J. McCollum

C.J. McCollum, shooting guard of the Portland Trail Blazers, is a relatively young and emerging talent, whose named has surfaced recently in trade rumors. The Oregonian’s John Canzaro believes the fit with electric point guard Damian Lillard isn’t promising long term for Rip City.

"To be clear, I’m not saying “McCollum must go,” here. I like his game. Just not as much as [Portland GM Neil] Olshey does. I’m saying, McCollum’s value isn’t going to be greater than it is in the next two seasons. It’s just not sustainable. Also, I’m saying that this season shouldn’t be viewed as a throw away in which the Blazers roll out the lowest-paid roster in the league and pretend that’s all there is to see."

At 24 years old, the Lehigh product is a viable candidate for the NBA’s Most Improved Player award for 2016. With consistent starting minutes after the departure of Wes Matthews, McCollum has thrived in the expanded role, averaging a career-best 20.4 PPG, 3.7 RPG and 4.5 APG.

In addition, his usage percentage has skyrocketed as a result. Opposite of Lillard, McCollum hasn’t been less efficient this season, despite shooting at a lower clip than last season. His PER (Player Efficiency Rating) and Win Shares have increased, as the third-year guard has been fazed by the increase in minutes.

His stock has unquestionably ascended in the 2015-16 season, but has it plateaued? McCollum currently is sporting the fifth-highest efficiency rate among shooting guards in the NBA and has yet to hit his prime. He’s a dynamic fit, if Philadelphia is interested in the player who played college ball just hours away from the City of Brotherly Love.

The Sixers’ SG contingency ranks last in the NBA in field goal percentage and among the league’s worst in an abundance of other categories. McCollum would be a primary scoring option for a team once devoid of multiple consistent offensive threats.

If Olshey decides to put McCollum’s name out there, it will be interesting to see if he sells high on his 2013 first-round selection. Portland has an undeniable star in Lillard, but has a mix of veterans and emerging talents that lack towering ceilings.

Jahlil Okafor and Joel Embiid appear to be off-limits, unless Lillard is mentioned, but Philadelphia has a copious amount of assets in the form of first-round picks. Their protected Miami and Oklahoma City 2016 first-round picks could be packaged in order to land a talent like McCollum.

It would be a risk to ship off first-round picks for what could be an anomaly of a season that McCollum is putting up, but Philadelphia appears to be fast tracking their future. He’s a bulletproof fit, with scoring capabilities essential to an offensively bereft Sixers unit.

Jabari Parker

Philadelphia isn’t the only team with highly touted players not being able to effectively play with each other. Not many could have predicted the free fall Milwaukee has endured in the 2015-16 season.

The addition of pseudo-star Greg Monroe has given the Bucks a jolt offensively, but their defense has been abysmal (22nd in points allowed, 23rd in defensive efficiency). Pairing Monroe, who regularly played PF in Detroit, with new power forward Jabari Parker hasn’t provided the offensive output that would nullify the defensive inconsistencies.

Parker was regarded, by some, as the next Carmelo Anthony or Paul Pierce, but hasn’t flashed the star power yet. He missed most of the 2014-15 season with a torn ACL and has refrained mightily from shooting the outside jumper. Parker does most of his damage around the basket and the absence of the three-point shot has driven his 48.0 percent shooting from the floor.

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The 6’8″, 250-pound Duke product also doesn’t portray the prototypical power forward build or skill set. He looked the part of a wing in college, but has been thrust into a role that’s become the norm in the NBA.

ESPN’s Zach Lowe articulates the struggle Parker is having defensively on the season which looks to be a wash out for Milwaukee.

"He has struggled horribly with normal duties of power forward defense, which mostly include defending players who don’t have the ball. He has been a mess guarding the screener in pick-and-rolls, flying out into space to cut off a ball-handler and lingering there too long with little clue where to go next."

Parker has yet to shed the negative connotations associated with his defense since entering the league. He was infamously benched in Duke’s opening round loss in 2014 against Mercer because of his defense. The evident weight gain also prohibits Parker from rotating on defense against wings and matching up against bigger fours.

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What’s salvaging his light tower ceiling is the offensive potential he could bring. Averaging 11.4 PPG, Parker’s full potential resides in his ability to make shots from all over the court and at a high difficulty.

For Philadelphia, that’s something arguably worth investing in. You can make the argument that Parker would interfere with the addition of forwards like a Ben Simmons or Brandon Ingram through the draft, but unlike McCollum, Parker’s stock is floors below what it could be.

For the Sixers, Parker’s scoring capabilities would be welcomed at the small forward position. It’s apparent that he’s struggling at power forward and would fit smoother at the 3, rather than in the crowded frontcourt.

A Nerlens Noel-Jabari Parker seems like a logical swap for both teams, with Philadelphia adding in additional assets. Milwaukee is currently lacking a rim protector and the Sixers need to straighten out their rotations and become a more flexible unit. The defensive issues might arise with Parker and Okafor sharing the floor, but both are loaded offensively with rare upside.

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Getting more backcourt help and wings, either via a trade or through the draft this year, is the first step to becoming a more diverse unit capable of perennially competing in a tougher Eastern Conference.