On July 12th, 2013, a trade was made official that sent shock waves through the NBA, Philadelphia, and anyone involved with basketball. That was the trade that sent Jrue Holiday to the New Orleans Pelicans for Nerlens Noel and a 2014 first-round selection. Coming off Jrue Holiday’s first All-Star appearance and the Sixers second consecutive All-Star, this trade didn’t seem real at first. If anyone remembers how Twitter reacted on draft night when the trade was announced, you know what I’m talking about.
Alas, the first move of Sam Hinkie’s tenure as Sixers GM was a thunderous one — trading away the Sixers franchise player. The Sixers would select the future Rookie of the Year with the 11th pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, Michael Carter-Williams, who was selected to be the successor to Jrue Holiday and the new face of the Sixers franchise. Carter-Williams was a diamond in the rough; the Rookie of the Year winner averaged 16.7 points, 6.6 assists, 6.5 rebounds and 1.9 steals per game in 70 games played this season. Carter-Williams shot 41 percent from the floor and 26 percent from deep, showing that he is still an extremely raw product.
Sam Hinkie showed us on draft night in 2013 that he’s not afraid to make a move that will shock the world. Could the next move up his sleeve include trading Michael Carter-Williams?
This is all prefaced by the Sixers landing the fourth or fifth pick in the 2014 NBA Draft (the draft lottery is May 20th). If the Sixers land Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker, this scenario is most likely never going to happen.
Let’s say that the Sixers end up with the fourth or fifth pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. At this slot, Australian point guard, Dante Exum will still be on the board. It’s rumored that Brett Brown loves Exum. Also, remember that Brett Brown coached the Austrailian National Team for many years, so the connection is there. Brett Brown is one of the few coaches that knows Exum and his game.
Dante Exum is a 6-foot-6 point guard from Austrailia, who has a wingspan of 6-foot-9 at 188 lbs. Check out this explanation of Exum’s abilities from Matt Kamalsky of Draftexpress.com:
A 6’6 guard with 6’9 wingspan who appears to have added some 10 pounds of muscle to his frame since last summer, Exum stood out immediately with his speed, fluidity and ball-handling ability. Accustomed to playing the point guard position at the junior level, the strong play of floor general Dennis Schroder required Exum to adapt playing off the ball this week –a challenge he accepted without a second thought in an effort to put his team in the best position to win.
A consummate team player who can do a little bit of everything, Exum still managed to be very effective for stretches in practice and score 16 points on game day despite the significant adjustment he had to make. Perhaps the most impressive thing Exum did throughout the week was get to the rim off the dribble. Without the ball in his hands constantly, Exum wasn’t able to create as much on the offensive as we saw last summer, but still managed to make his presence felt attacking from the wing. Showing a very low dribble, an exceptional burst and the ability to finish above the rim, Exum is a very smooth finisher, but is not afraid to elevate in a crowd and draw contact either.
If the Sixers are in the position to take Dante Exum, a pure point guard, this creates some confusion. If the Sixers draft Exum, then there’s a jam at the point guard position. Certainly, the Rookie of the Year isn’t going to be on the bench and neither is the No. 5 pick, correct?
While Jeff Hornacek showed the NBA that the two point guard lineup can work in Phoenix with Dragic and Bledsoe, this isn’t the case here. Both Carter-Williams and Exum have an unreliable jump shot; while the combination in the back court would be interesting, there would be no spacing on the floor if defenses are going to let both players shoot jumpers. Then, there is less spacing for Nerlens Noel in the paint and there will be no consistent shooters to kick the ball out too, when the double-team comes.
With all of this being said, if the Sixers select Dante Exum in the 2014 NBA Draft, Sam Hinkie could trade Michael Carter-Williams. MCW had an amazing rookie season, but he was still mightily inefficient from the field and Sam Hinkie showed us with the Jrue Holiday trade, that no one is ever safe from being traded.
Sam Hinkie could package Michael Carter-Williams and a second-round pick to move into the 6-through-8 slots in the draft, after selecting Exum. Preferably, to select Indiana power forward, Noah Vonleh. Selecting Noah Vonleh fills the void at the power forward position, while adding a future star in Exum and being able to select a plug in at the two guard or three on the floor. With the NOLA pick, someone like Rodney Hood or Gary Harris could be plugged in. Don’t forget, Thaddeus Young is always there to be a trade chip to add another prospect. With the Sixers have five second-round picks, a lot of wheeling and dealing is going to occur on draft night.
DraftExpress.com has Vonleh being selected with the No. 7 overall selection in the 2014 NBA Draft by the Sacramento Kings. With Isaiah Thomas being a restricted free agent, he could be on the move this off-season. This opens up space for the Sixers to offer Carter-Williams to Sacramento.
The No. 6 slot is held by the Los Angeles Lakers, who are in desperate need of a solid point guard. Steve Nash is getting older by the minute and his injury frequency has been increasing every time he steps on the court. The Lakers are looking for a game changer, but if they can’t land a top three pick, trading for MCW might be the best option to restart their franchise.
At the No. 8 slot are the Detroit Pistons, better known as the team the Sixers beat to snap their 26-game losing streak. Detroit is in a state of flux and could win an award for the most dysfunctional team in the NBA. The Pistons have Brandon Jennings, but he’s not exactly going to be leading anyone to the promise land in his career. Instead of taking someone like Dario Saric, Aaron Gordon or Vonleh into their already loaded front court, the addition of Michael Carter-Williams could be what the Pistons need.
Any team this high in the lottery would be hard-pressed to turn down an offer to receive the Rookie of the Year on their team, which is important to remember. All of these teams have major holes.
So, imagine a starting lineup of Dante Exum, Gary Harris, Rodney Hood, Noah Vonleh and Nerlens Noel. That looks like the All-Rookie Team of 2014, but who could be mad at that? Seriously, it’s something Hinkie could cook up in the draft war room. Having all of those players on rookie scale contracts would also mean the Sixers still have a lot of cap room to bring in a couple of veteran players.
Could the Sixers draft Exum and keep Carter-Williams? Of course and it wouldn’t be the end of the world. It would take some time to figure out, but nothing is impossible. Their combination of length and athleticism would be unmatched in the NBA. However, it’s not insane to think that Carter-Williams could be on the move if the pieces fall into place and the Sixers wind up with the fourth or fifth pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.
Of course, this could all be solved if the Sixers land the No. 1 or No. 2 overall pick in the draft. Until then, I will be making myself go insane with scenarios like this. God bless my soul. GO SIXERS.