Sixers should be cautious with draft picks at trade deadline

Landry Shamet Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Landry Shamet Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports /

Just a few months into his tenure as the president of basketball operations of the Sixers, Daryl Morey will have to break out his most famous nerdy basketball theory. The five percent theory is when a team has a greater than a five percent chance to win the title, that team should go all out to win, no questions asked.

538 gives Philadelphia an 11% chance at winning the title while most betting sites give the team between a five to ten percent chance. Given those odds and Morey’s philosophy, expect the Sixers to be aggressive at the trade deadline.

The Sixers should be aggressive if the right trade develops. However, given how well the Sixers have drafted with late first-round and second-round picks over the last few years, Morey should be cautious trading away picks for marginal upgrades.

With Shake Milton, Landry Shamet, and Matisse Thybulle as recent success stories, the Sixers should be cautious when exploring trades that involve draft picks.

Since 2016, the Sixers have drafted Matisse Thybulle, Furkan Korkmaz, Tyrese Maxey, and Landry Shamet in the late first round. While none of these players are stars, all have outperformed their draft positions and are solid rotation pieces.

Second-round picks have been more of the same story. Shake Milton has been amazing value for the 54th pick in the 2018 draft and 2020 second-rounders Isaiah Joe and Paul Reed look like future rotation pieces. While none of these players project to be all-stars, they round out a successful rotation.

While Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and Tobias Harris are all on max contracts, it will be very difficult to build out a deep rotation. This would become exponentially harder if the team trades away future first-round picks, especially for old veterans or one-year rentals.

Daryl Morey will have to balance contending now with building a steady rotation for the future. Is trading a future first worth the upgrade that a player like Evan Fournier would provide? Is an aging Kyle Lowry really worth two first-round picks, the equivalent of giving up two shots to find cheap, young rotation pieces? These are the very difficult questions that Morey will have to answer.

The Sixers only have to look two years back to find answers to these questions. The Sixers traded Robert Covington, Dario Saric, and a second-round pick for Jimmy Butler. Butler gave them one elite season before being flipped for Josh Richardson, who eventually got swapped for Seth Curry.

Elton Brand went all-in on those Sixers, and while they got close, it ultimately did not pay off. Long term, you could argue the Sixers would have been better off keeping Roco and Dario.

The Sixers also traded Shamet, two firsts, and two seconds for Tobias Harris, along with Mike Scott and Boban Marjanovic. While Harris has been amazing this season, the Sixers gave up cheap assets for a great but expensive player. Could the Sixers have signed Harris in the offseason or used those assets as part of a package to trade for a true superstar?

Ultimately, as long as Embiid, Simmons, and Harris are on the roster, the Sixers will have a chance to contend. The big three have played well and done their part this season. Now, it is up to Morey and the front office to do theirs. With the Nets and Bucks breathing right down the Sixers’ neck, Morey needs to make the right decisions. Treat those picks like gold, Daryl.

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