The Philadelphia 76ers’ trade deadline acquisitions will probably earn bigger roles as the season progresses.
Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson III cost the Philadelphia 76ers a package of second-round picks at the trade deadline. While it’s only a half-season rental, the value was still strong for a team in desperate need of reinforcements. Both Burks and Robinson figure to contribute in the postseason.
Up to this point, Brett Brown has been hesitant to heap a big workload on his new additions. He has instead leaned on players who were already on the roster — Matisse Thybulle, Furkan Korkmaz, and Shake Milton — when orchestrating the second unit. Burks and Robinson have played significant minutes, but neither has been featured to the degree many of us expected.
Prior to the trade, Burks averaged over 16 points per game in Golden State. Robinson fell just short of 13 points per game. They both carried significant weight for a bottom-feeding Warriors team. The lack of comparable touches — even if in fewer minutes per game — has led to understandable frustrations.
Brown is under no obligation to use Burks and Robinson. The Sixers have them under contract, and those contracts do not stipulate a certain volume of work. It’s unfortunate for Burks and Robinson, who were in line for sizable raises next summer, but I would expect plenty of suitors to line up regardless. Their work in Golden State is still fresh in many minds.
The Sixers have more invested long-term in Thybulle, Korkmaz, and Milton, who could prop up the second unit for years to come. Philadelphia is cash-strapped for the foreseeable future, which means cheap talent is at a premium. Cultivating the young and affordable wings on the roster makes a great deal of sense.
With that said, the Sixers do have a clear and long-publicized goal to compete for a championship. A number of other team-building failures — Al Horford, first and foremost — have put that goal in jeopardy, but Philadelphia still has the star-power to make noise in the postseason. Burks and Robinson can presumably help in that setting.
For all the noise surrounding Korkmaz and Thybulle this season, I’m far from convinced either one is ready for postseason basketball. Thybulle is still a hopelessly limited offensive player who can’t hit ocean from the beach away from the Wells Fargo Center. Korkmaz is inversely terrible on defense, even if his shooting stroke has obvious utility in Philadelphia’s offense.
Teams will exploit Korkmaz mercilessly in the playoffs. He will get targeted on switches similarly to J.J. Redick the past two seasons, only Redick is probably a better defender. Thybulle is someone defenses can possibly ignore on the perimeter, something Philadelphia can ill-afford.
If Brown is forced to adjust in the postseason, an obvious adjustment is to increase the workload for Burks and Robinson — two consistent shooters who can aptly defend and create off the bounce. Burks especially has value as a pick-and-roll ball handler and a pull-up threat.
The Sixers acquired Burks and Robinson with an eye toward the postseason. While neither has been fully embraced yet, it’s reasonable to expect an increase in minutes — for both of them — when the games count. They are simply less limited than Thybulle and Korkmaz, not to mention more experienced.