The Philadelphia 76ers’ wild offseason (in the Bleacher Report fantasy league) pushes on.
With the NBA season on hold, Bleacher Report continues to operate its fantasy basketball league. The Philadelphia 76ers, currently helmed by fake-GM Ross Schwaber, have made a series of high-stakes trades. The roster has shifted focus entirely.
We have already written about two blockbusters. One in which Tobias Harris and Josh Richardson were swapped for Buddy Hield and Harrison Barnes, and another in which Al Horford was shipped to Houston for a package revolving around Eric Gordon and Austin Rivers.
A bevy of other players were involved in those trades, marking a seismic shift in the Sixers roster. To make matters even more complex, Schwaber double-dipped in the trade machine and pulled off a third blockbuster.
(Cleveland also receives the No. 22 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft)
Obviously, it would require significant leg work for the real-life Sixers to arrive at a Kevin Love-for-Harrison Barnes swap. In the context of this fantasy roster, it certainly evokes mixed emotions. On one hand, Love is clearly a superior talent. On the other, Barnes might be a cleaner fit.
The Sixers’ starting five probably shakes out like this.
JOEL EMBIID — KEVIN LOVE — ERIC GORDON — BUDDY HIELD — BEN SIMMONS
BENCH: Austin Rivers, Nemanja Bjelica, Alec Burks, Matisse Thybulle, Glenn Robinson III, Isaiah Hartenstein, Cory Joseph, Kyle O’Quinn, Norvel Pelle, Raul Neto, Chris Clemons, Marial Shayok
On paper, the offensive fit is clear. Hield and Gordon are high-volume shooters and Love can comfortably space the floor. This lineup probably doesn’t play to Love’s foremost strengths, but in this setting, Love is no longer the No. 1 option. It’s similar to his situation next to LeBron James and Kyrie Irving in Cleveland.
The Sixers have successfully surrounded Embiid and Simmons with shooters, a rare and impressive accomplishment given the actual front office’s recent track record. Love’s contract is far from ideal, but it’s certainly not in the same vein as Al Horford’s contract, who he is indirectly replacing.
Fit concerns come into play on defense. Love has played power forward most of his career, so this isn’t much of a change on his end. He is, however, better suited to the center position, and smaller opponents could exploit Love’s slow-footedness on the perimeter.
Philadelphia thankfully has the tools to pick up Love’s slack. Embiid is an all-world backstop on the rim, while Simmons and Matisse Thybulle are two of the NBA’s most prolific free safeties. The Sixers have the personnel to cover a lot of ground.
In the end, this deal is largely positive. Love is a signifiant step up talent-wise from Barnes, and he can more aptly fit the role Horford was initially meant to fill last summer. Love can not only coexist with Embiid at power forward, but he’s also a strong fill-in at center when Embiid sits. Nemanja Bjelica (who came over in the Horford trade) and Simmons can fill the other available minutes in the frontcourt.
If no further blockbusters are on the table, this is a solid outcome for the fantasy league Sixers. Harris and Horford are no longer on the books, and the Embiid-Simmons duo now has a multitude of high-level shooters on the roster. Brett Brown should have little issue making the new pieces work.
From a raw talent perspective, Philadelphia has probably taken a step back. When it comes to forming a cohesive basketball unit, however, this is undoubtedly a step up.