Philadelphia 76ers: Chris Paul isn’t the only OKC point guard to watch

The Philadelphia 76ers should keep a very close eye on the OKC situation.

With the departure of Billy Donovan, the writing is on the wall for OKC’s immediate playoff aspirations. It appears a rebuild is inevitable, and that would start with Chris Paul getting traded this fall. We have written innumerable times about CP3 and the Sixers, which should absolutely happen if Elton Brand can pull the requisite strings.

If the Sixers cannot get CP3, however, there’s another talented guard in OKC who could be more attainable. His name is Dennis Schroder, a former top-20 pick who emerged as a Sixth Man of the Year candidate last season. In fact, he was my pick for the award.

Schroder spent a couple years as a go-to option in Atlanta before the joining the OKC second unit in 2018. After an unimpressive season behind Russell Westbrook, he came alive in 2019-20, playing an integral role in OKC’s run to the No. 5 seed out West.

For the Sixers, Schroder would check quite a few boxes. He’s a reliable shot creator on the perimeter — a crafty ball-handler who can maneuver his way to pull-up jumpers or slick finishes at the rim. He shot a career-high 38.5 percent from deep on 5.0 attempts per game last season, and he found ample success playing next to other playmakers in CP3 and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

Schroder could rejoin the starting ranks in Philadelphia. His decision-making can get erratic during some stretches, but he gives the Sixers a much-needed boost of shot-making, as well as someone who can break down the halfcourt defense. Expect a high dosage of pick-and-rolls in a hypothetical partnership with Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and Tobias Harris.

Philadelphia needs someone with Schroder’s speed and spunk. He plays hard, he can press turbo to get to the rim, and he’s a genuine point guard — a rarity in Philadelphia these past few seasons. Schroder is not without his lulls and his problem areas, but on the whole, he’s a tremendous fit on a half-decent contract.

Schroder is owed $15.5 million before hitting free agency at the end of next season. He’d be a short-term commitment who, if circumstances allow, could re-sign on a reasonable and affordable long-term deal.

The small issue with a Schroder trade is, well, the mechanics. It would likely require the departure of Josh Richardson, as Adam Aaronson perorated for The Rights to Ricky Sanchez. While Schroder is undeniably the better fit, I’m not sure he’s the better player. And while Schroder is quite good defending the point of attack, Richardson is — again — better.

On a more logically constructed roster, Richardson can still do a lot of good for Philadelphia. If the Sixers can move the likes of Al Horford and Tobias Harris, I wouldn’t mind hanging on to Richardson. He too is on a very affordable expiring contract and could, in the right financial climate, be re-signed to a team-friendly deal.

If the Sixers cannot shed the Horford and Harris deals, however, then Schroder may make the most sense as someone who can breathe life into a stagnant halfcourt offense. He’s a much better playmaker than Richardson, and his quicker decision-making would greatly boost the Sixers’ flow.

It’s not terribly hard to get behind a Schroder–Milton–Harris–Simmons–Embiid starting five.