1. Utah Jazz
For the third consecutive season, the Utah Jazz were a very solid team, especially when considering they are competing in the brutally competitive Western Conference. And while they managed to break the 50-win barrier for just the third time since the 2007-08 season, they quickly found themselves bounced out in five games in the first round of the playoffs at the hands of the Houston Rockets.
Therefore, while the Jazz have now proven their roster is good enough to make the playoffs, just how much further can they advance?
For the Sixers: In Rudy Gobert, the Sixers are certainly not losing anything at the defensive end of the floor. For the third consecutive season, Gobert was named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team, and is currently the reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year.
While he missed 26 games in the 2017-18 season primarily due to a knee injury, Gobert overall has been highly durable, playing in 81 games in two of the past three seasons. Last season, the 7’1″ native of France averaged 15.9 points and 12.9 rebounds — both career-highs — while also recording 2.3 blocks in 31.8 minutes per game.
The other acquisition in the deal, Donovan Mitchell, would simply provide the Sixers one of the most exciting backcourts in the league. Runner up to Ben Simmons in the 2018 NBA Rookie of the Year voting, Mitchell raised his game to another level in his second year in the league. After starting last season somewhat slowly, Mitchell simply took off as the season progressed, averaging 26.2 points, 4.7 assists and 4.5 rebounds over his final 46 games of the season.
Although he’s one of the most exciting young guards in the league, Mitchell struggled significantly in shooting the ball in this recent postseason run. While his athleticism is not in question, raising the overall consistency of his perimeter shooting will go a long way in deterring whether Mitchell can continue to raise his game.
For the Jazz: In Embiid, the Jazz are receiving the first superstar on the team since the days of Karl Malone. Given their proven difficulties in landing free agents, the acquisition of Embiid — under contract through the 2022-23 season — would provide the Jazz the foundation in which to build the franchise for the years to come. Additionally, the Jazz will be receiving guard Zhaire Smith in order to help fill the void left by Mitchell.
Overall: While each deal mentioned is intriguing, the ability to land two high-quality players at their respective positions means the Jazz transaction would provide the Sixers with the most flexibility and overall depth as they continue their attempt to rise to the very top of the Eastern Conference standings.