Why a Damian Lillard trade to the 76ers makes the most sense

Damian Lillard, 76ers - Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Damian Lillard, 76ers - Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports /

Damian Lillard’s resounding trade request out of Portland is undeniably one of, if not the biggest storyline in the offseason. And while the superstar guard has made his preferred destination as clear as day, the Philadelphia 76ers certainly tout a tremendous selling point for his services as a potential landing spot.

The Trail Blazers and the Heat, whom Lillard has repeatedly interjected as his target, are currently at a standstill. Portland is justifiably asking for a fortune for the All-Star, which is still tied down to four more years under his current deal. However, Miami has yet to meet such asking price, not wanting to bid against themselves with Lillard not showing enthusiasm on any other destination so far.

That being said, Philadelphia — not Miami — presents the most attractive situation for Lillard. Here’s why.

Why the Philadelphia 76ers make the most sense for Damian Lillard

Event at the ripe age of 33, Lillard remains an elite player. Last season, he tallied a career-high 32.2 points per game — a mark good for third in the association behind Joel Embiid and Luka Doncic. Clearly, the longtime Trail Blazer can take any title hopeful even stronger in the arm’s race.

Miami, fresh off an NBA Finals appearance, arguably gives Lillard the best chance at winning his first chip. However, the Sixers should belong to the same tier, if only for both clubs possessing the same level of talent despite the comparative difference in accolades.

Philly has Embiid, the reigning Most Valuable Player, an up-and-coming star in Tyrese Maxey, who can easily thrive as Lillard’s backcourt partner, and a slew of battle-tested veterans such as Tobias Harris, PJ Tucker, Patrick Beverley, and De’Anthony Melton, among others. With James Harden now on the way out, Lillard will have the same amplitude that the former enjoyed and should not face any hurdles in still being as productive as last season.

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The 76ers’ play style also present a more seamless integration for Lillard. Philly’s offense is built on the dynamics between Embiid and an efficient, ball dominant guard. Harden — the facilitator-first variant — was rock solid next to the MVP, but has often faced backlash for being overtly passive at times. That shouldn’t be a problem for Lillard who, despite not being as proficient as a playmaker, has still been one of the league’s best in generating dimes in addition to being an unbreakable scorer from literally anywhere.

In comparison, Miami’s offense under Erik Spoelstra — notwithstanding personnel — has always had an egalitarian sheen to it which made natural table-setters like Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo flourish. While definitely effective, it’s not the best on-court design for Lillard, who was in the 90.9 percentile in efficiency in isolation situations last season. Ultimately, the numbers point to a more clearly defined offense such as the Sixers’ making more sense for him.

For all the reasons stated above — and in addition to the fact that the 76ers can offer a more appealing package to the Trail Blazers for Damian Lillard, especially via a three-way trade involving Harden — Philadelphia should be a more attractive landing spot. Hopefully, the superstar guard can grown amenable to the prospect of landing with the franchise and a deal eventually transpires.

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