Philadelphia 76ers: Will Elton Brand’s aggressiveness at trade deadline pay off?

James Ennis III, Tobias Harris | Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)
James Ennis III, Tobias Harris | Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Philadelphia 76ers were far and away the most active team in the NBA this season in terms of roster transactions. They acquired Jimmy Butler from the Timberwolves back in November and then acquired more length and shooting prior to last Thursday’s trade deadline.

Aggression wins in sports.

Putting your chips on the table and saying “We are all in” is what pays off the most, and it is not just in basketball.

Look at what the Cleveland Cavaliers did during last season’s trade deadline. They picked up shooters and defenders while unloading players who were not contributing well. It helped bring them to the NBA Finals, even though they got swept.

They have also done it in past years with players like J.R. Smith and Kyle Korver.

The Los Angeles Rams went on a free agency binge last offseason and they found themselves in the Super Bowl.

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The Houston Astros traded for pitcher Justin Verlander in August 2017 and wound up with a World Series trophy two months later.

The theme continues. The organization who takes their shot is the one most likely to be rewarded.

Elton Brand seems to think that way. He traded Robert Covington and Dario Saric for Jimmy Butler just about 10 games into the season. As soon as the Timberwolves made him available, Brand and the Philadelphia 76ers pulled the trigger.

It turns out his gun had more ammo right before last Thursday.

While the saga of Magic Johnson‘s Lakers offering acres of Beverly Hills to the Pelicans in pursuit of Anthony Davis took over headlines, the 76ers made the biggest moves of all.

A team that needed improvement with spacing got it. They traded for All-Star snub Tobias Harris to complement a team with two All-Stars and another snub. It helps that the deal also included Boban Marjanovic and Mike Scott, two very credible bench players.

But what does this trade mean?

It means that the 76ers now have the most talented starting lineup outside of Silicon Valley. It means that they have every element of elite basketball in their main five.

They have ball movement, shooting, defense, length, size, and depth.

The Sixers put the NBA on notice this weekend with impressive home victories over the Denver Nuggets and the Los Angeles Lakers.

They had their whole starting five hit double figures in points Friday night and were a Ben Simmons botched dunk away from seven players hitting double figures Sunday afternoon. When it came time to hit big shots and make key defensive stops, they made the plays that last year’s squad would have failed to do.

Eastern Conference fans are in for a wild second round of the postseason but the Philadelphia 76ers might have put themselves ahead of the other three main competitors.

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The Milwaukee Bucks acquired Nikola Mirotic from the Pelicans. It will be interesting to see if he effects floor spacing enough in the playoffs when officials become more lenient and the game becomes more physical.

Giannis Antetokuonmpo’s one weakness is the outside shot so he will need more space to operate.

Sixers fans know all too well about defenses clogging the paint in playoff games.

The Toronto Raptors traded for Marc Gasol after the former Defensive Player of the Year was put on the trade block by the Memphis Grizzlies. He adds a mid-range game along with elite passing for a big man. They are a force to be reckoned with and probably have the most depth in the East.

The team ultimately lives and dies on Kawhi Leonard‘s health but thankfully for them, there are no back-to-backs come playoff time.

The Boston Celtics did not make any transactions. There issues are not related to lack of any particular element. For them, it is more about chemistry issues minutes management from head coach Brad Stevens.

The Sixers made the biggest splashes. Let alone the Jimmy Butler trade from three months ago, they were hyper aggressive last week.

Tobias Harris was the Western Conference Player of the Month for October and November as he had the Los Angeles Clippers in playoff position at the time.

Boban Marjanovic is the largest player in the league and he allows Joel Embiid to get some rest minutes without putting the Sixers in a hole down low. Having him on the second unit is big and backup point guard T.J. McConnell will have no issue finding him in the post.

Mike Scott is a solid 3-and-D player who can hit some big shots.

Former first overall draft pick Markelle Fultz was sent to the Orlando Magic in exchange for Jonathon Simmons; a lengthy player who can provide valuable defensive minutes when needed. All of Sixer Nation wishes the best for Fultz but it was time for a new beginning for the injury-plagued guard.

Elton Brand appears to be confident in his moves. To paraphrase, he said he expects this team to reach the Eastern Conference Finals.

He also said he plans on keeping this group together for the near future as well.

The Philadelphia 76ers have a tremendous opportunity to reach their first NBA Finals since 2001 and cure some of the Allen Iverson nostalgia.

Heavy favorites to win their third straight title, the Golden State Warriors will have their hands full with this Sixers bunch should they meet in June.

The Sixers marched into Oracle Arena Jan. 31 and came away with a statement road victory against this team. The Warriors had no answer for Joel Embiid on the glass as The Process racked up 20 rebounds.

The size is a mismatch in favor of the Sixers. That is the longest and largest starting lineup in the league. It has the potential to also be the best defensive starting lineup in the league.

The Warriors have the clear edge in shooting, experience, star power, and would have home court advantage in a potential series.

But let us not get too far ahead of ourselves. There is still the All-Star break and then several rounds of postseason basketball to worry about in a jam packed Eastern Conference.

Two of the four teams will have to go home earlier than expected.

Let us enjoy this new-look 76ers team as we creep closer and closer towards the playoffs.

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Let us see if aggression pays off this time.