The Philadelphia 76ers and GM Sam Hinkie took a huge risk by drafting immensely talented (and injured) center Joel Embiid after already having Nerlens Noel on their roster. The team seems to be content with where they are as they stack assets while looking for ways to acquire even more. But the financial flexibility of Philadelphia’s franchise realistically allows them to decide when they want to take a leap forward.
With the Sixers kicking the tires on deals for Houston Rockets‘ Jeremy Lin, it is obvious that the Sixers are not opposed to making moves. And with the Indiana Pacers possibly looking to free up cap space to re-sign Lance Stephenson, Roy Hibbert could be on the market.
Most of the moves I have speculated about involve the Sixers making deals that would bring them closer to a playoff berth — none more so than this one.
The Sixers can package Embiid or Noel with Thaddeus Young and easily pry him away from Indiana. Hibbert would give the Sixers a proven rim protector, allowing them to play much more aggressive perimeter defense. This would help increase the effectiveness of Brett Brown‘s up-tempo style of play. Hibbert would rebound and dish it to Michael Carter-Williams, who would be more than happy to run out and attack.
The Sixers are fine pushing the pace, at 103.4 possessions per game, but Philly’s defense could use lots of help. They had one of the worst defensive field goal percentages in the league by allowing opponents to shoot 47.1 percent on average. When Hibbert specifically defended the rim, the Pacers gave up just 41.4 percent.
Hibbert is by no means built to run, but he would be instrumental in helping the Sixers run the classic fast-break, as imagined by the greats like Red Auerbach. Big man rebounds, passes to the lead guard and the lead guard runs with players flanking him on the wings. For a young team looking to take the playoff leap, playing fast minimizes the pressure placed on each individual player’s performance.
Philly head coach Brett Brown previously worked for the San Antonio Spurs, so he is excellent at getting players to understand their roles. Once you are comfortable with your role you can flourish as a player. Hibbert had shown lots of improvement before his dramatic statistical fall off a cliff in the playoffs.
With a player whose play depends so much on confidence to succeed, the Sixers would be an ideal landing spot. The Pacers would be able to land a young center to plug into their system. They would obviously be taking a step back, but they would be getting a player with a loads of potential.
The Pacers were a team built through the draft, and the Sixers could be the same. Paul George grew over his first few years in the league with Hibbert as his running mate. This has resulted in All-Star selections, All-NBA teams and even serious MVP buzz at the beginning of the season. With Hibbert on the squad Carter-Williams could take a similar leap.
This is a move that could help push the Sixers over the top in a weakened Atlantic Conference.