A new season is upon us, and with it comes plenty of intriguing storylines. From massive traves and superstar uncertainty in the East to a West perhaps the deepest it has ever been, here is an early season NBA Power ranking.
Far-Fetched Friday: These Players Get Traded Before Ben Simmons
By: Khaqan Khan
It's a Far-Fetched take because all signs point toward a Ben Simmons trade this off-season. Ben Simmons, on offense, during the last 4 minutes of a playoff game, goes against everything Daryl Morey believes about basketball. Morey has never been shy and is all about getting multiple stars on one team. Under the current evaluation, Ben Simmons is not a star but is young, talented, and touted enough to trade for one. Who that is remains unclear right now, but if there's one thing we know about the NBA, it is to expect the unexpected.
Welcome back to Far-Fetched Friday, where every Friday we give you a bold prediction that we believe will come to fruition. This Friday, we look at the most polarizing player in the NBA.
The situation in Portland with Dame is the headliner, but don't forget about Brandon Ingram in New Orleans or Bradley Beal in Washington as other possible big-name players on the trading block. As the season nears its conclusion, keep your eyes open for coded articles, cryptic tweets, and Woj-bombs in the middle of the night.
But there is also a world where the Sixers see what they have with Simmons. Maybe after a dedicated off-season, Simmons does show the ability to stay on the court late in games or shows enough to raise his trade value back up. I believe the Sixers will choose to sit back until preseason and let other teams come to them. However, there will be trades, and I think these players are more likely to get traded before Simmons this off-season.
1. Colin Sexton
This might be a surprise to casual fans because Sexton is coming off a career year where he averaged 24 ppg on 47% shooting, but there's more to winning basketball besides scoring. His basketball IQ, passing, and his defense have been widely criticized. A report came out during his rookie year that he doesn't know how to play basketball. But also, who can forget this moment where he caused Kevin Love to have an on-court meltdown? There have also been rumors that his teammates do not like playing with him. Reports have said that opposing teams would taunt Cavs players by telling them Sexton won't pass them the ball.
These aren't exactly early signs of greatness, but to be fair, he is only 22 years old, he has improved year to year, and he really seems to give a shit. However, I'm not totally convinced the Cavs are 100% confident Sexton can be the starting two-guard on a contending team. I mean, they did draft Darius Garland a year after drafting Sexton originally as a point guard. The Cavs have the 3rd pick this year and could possibly get Jalen Green or Jalen Suggs. They already have the Kevin Love contract on their books. They're going to have to pay Jarrett Allen this offseason. So it makes sense to break up the undersized backcourt while Sexton's trade value is still high.
2. Pascal Siakam
A Siakam trade first became a possibility when he and Nick Nurse exchanged some damning words in a heated argument during the season.
The Toronto Raptors are at an interesting fork in the road. They have money tied up to a roster that will probably get you in the playoffs but probably will not get you to the finals. There is also uncertainty around their franchise leader Kyle Lowry who becomes a free agent this offseason/ Now they sit with the 4th pick in the draft, wondering what direction they should go. Restart young, or trade the 4th pick to maximize the roster.
My guess is they will retool their roster with young talent to go along with Gary Trent Jr and OG Anunoby but trade the older Pascal Siakam. The trade offers thrown out are the Warriors mid-lottery picks and James Wiseman for Pascal Siakam, which makes sense for both teams. The Warriors get an established all-star who can switch on defense. The Raptors get the center of the future and a chance to add more young talent to the roster while moving off Siakam's contract.
3. Kyle Kuzma
Kyle Kuzma + Talen Horton-Tucker + a 2021 second for Damian Lillard? Who says no?
No, but in all seriousness, with heavy money tied to Lebron James and Anthony Davis and no other assets to deal out, the only other way the Lakers can improve is by trading Kyle Kuzma. For as much hate as he gets, Kuzma is still a quality rotation guy in this league. He can shoot the three, and every now and then, he can put the ball on the floor and get his own shot. Most importantly, he has shown improvement and a willingness to defend. A player like that at his height will always have some value. I also think, in a better situation, he can be more consistent.
The Lakers never really did him any favors. It always seemed he was on a short leash with them. I was in the camp that they should have given him more of an opportunity during the season to build up his confidence for the playoffs.
What the Lakers could get for him depends on what is out there. There's no traction on this, but I think a trade for Terrence Ross makes sense. The Lakers get a veteran heat check scorer off the bench, and the Magic get younger and could probably get a second-round pick. Say a team like the Magic acquire Kuzma. They could showcase him for half a season to build his trade value up before flipping him to a contender like the Bucks, who could use his shooting and versatility coming off the bench.
This NBA off-season is setting up to be an entertaining one with many teams looking to improve their rosters and many players looking to find better situations. You'll have franchises like the Knicks and the Bulls trying to get to the next level. Teams like the Jazz and Trail Blazers are doing some deep soul-searching. All the contenders are trying to retool in preparation to face the juggernaut that is the Brooklyn Nets. Players like Brandon Ingram wanting their own team, or players like Buddy Hield who want a change of scenery.
I could keep going, but the point is, every single team in the league has trades to make.
It's going to be wildly entertaining for basketball nerds like me to see all the moves made.
But going back to my original point, I get the sense the 76ers will wait to see how the rest of the league shakes up and how much improvement Ben Simmons shows before trading him, especially if they feel like waiting could land them a superstar like Damian Lillard.
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