For the second straight season, Elton Brand has struck in the wee hours of the night leading up to the trade deadline, filling two dire needs for the Philadelphia 76ers.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what the Philadelphia 76ers needed heading into the 2020 trade deadline. Only Josh Richardson can really create at all three levels, and only Furkan Korkmaz (who was barely in the Sixers’ offseason plans to begin with) and Mike Scott (who has been putrid this season) can be relied upon to take catch-and-shoot threes.
Both those holes were filled early Thursday morning. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Sixers are adding both a scorer and a shooter, both from the same team, and both of whom were linked to the Sixers for several weeks leading up to the deadline.
Two roster spots will have to be made for the newcomers, so we’ll see how the front office handles that later today.
The 6’6″, 214-pound combo guard Alec Burks was known for several years as the one Jazz player who didn’t play enough. He was a productive scorer and capable shooter when he did hit the floor, but he only eclipsed 1000 minutes in three of his seven full seasons in Salt Lake.
Last season he was part of two trades, both of which were more about his contract than his on-court value. His longest stint of 2018-19, with the Cleveland Cavaliers, saw him put up 11.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game on below-average efficiency.
A lot of that can be attested to the context of playing for those putrid Cavaliers. The lineup he appeared most frequently in was with: Rodney Hood, who didn’t take off until he was traded to Portland; Cedi Osman, a good role player who isn’t lifting up a bottom feeder; Collin Sexton, a rookie last year who was historically bad; and Ante Zizic, who can only get 9.9 minutes a game on this season’s Cavs.
Therefore, the Golden State Warriors said “why not?” and inked him to a one-year minimum deal. It was undoubtedly a hit, as Burks is having a career season, averaging 16.1 points and 3.1 assists on acceptable efficiency.
He’s had to create a lot for Golden State in the minutes sans D’Angelo Russell; 43.9 percent of his shots have been pull-ups, i.e. he’s had to manufacture a lot of offense for himself, per NBA.com. He can also run a pick-and-roll better than anyone on the current roster, generating 0.92 points per possession as the PNR ball handler (71st percentile, per NBA.com).
He will immediately step into a spark plug role for the Sixers, where he can initiate for others and get buckets when the offense stagnates. He may even be counted on to create at the end of games. Ideally, he becomes the backup point guard who can play on or off the ball, soaking up minutes at both the 1 and 2.
Glenn Robinson III had a stint with the Philadelphia 76ers in 2015, so Process trusters are sure to remember him. The 6’6″, 222-pound wing is known for one thing: shooting. Robinson won’t be counted on to play crunch-time minutes or take a Korkmaz-esque amount of threes per game, but he makes the most of the chances he gets.
Other than his rookie season, Robinson has shot 38.1 percent on 1.8 attempts from three over the last five seasons. Take out his outlier 2018-19 season with the Detroit Pistons, and that figure bumps up to 39.6 percent on 2.0 attempts. Just this season Robinson is hitting 40.0 percent of those shots on a healthy 3.5 attempts per game. In case anyone’s still skeptical, a good indicator for shooting reliability is free throw percentage, and Robinson’s over the last five seasons has been solid at 77.1 percent.
That shooting will be welcomed in Philly. He won’t play outside his role, and will take advantage when opportunities present themselves. He and James Ennis will soak up the back-end wing minutes, and may even compete in a “quiet tournament” with Korkmaz and Matisse Thybulle for playoff minutes on the wing.
The cost to acquire these two players was surprising. Considering the Philadelphia 76ers’ desperation to fill these needs, most expected a higher asking price than three late second round picks. The picks Philly is sending to Golden State are: the Dallas Mavericks‘ 2020 second, which is currently slotted 49th overall, per Tankathon.com; the Denver Nuggets‘ 2021 second, which is certain to be low; and the Toronto Raptors‘ 2022 second, which figures to be low as Pascal Siakam continues to ascend.
Burks is almost guaranteed to be in the playoff rotation, and Robinson will push for a spot while filling an immediate need. The price of adding these two was pretty low, making for an ideal set of upgrades for a team which finds itself low on premium assets.