Free agency is right around the corner. Things have already started to get wild as the Los Angeles Lakers have kicked things off with a bang by trading for Anthony Davis. While the Lakers set the tone out West how does that affect things out East? It’s a lot to dive into. For starters, Jimmy Butler will test free agency. Kyrie Irving is leaving Boston. And it’s also expected that Brooklyn will sign Irving and if so will not resign D’Angelo Russell. If that’s the case here’s why the 76ers should be all in on Russell.
Free agent frenzy
It’s been reported that Uncle Drew has narrowed his decision down to two teams. The Lakers and Nets. However, Irving has already signed with Roc Nation Sports so it seems to be a foregone conclusion that Irving will be playing his home games at Barclays Center next season. DLo is coming off a breakout season. He averaged a career-high 21.1 points per game along with 7assists.
He helped fuel the Nets to their first playoff appearance since 2015. The former Laker is nominated for the Kia Most Improved Player award and also secured his first All-Star selection. The former Ohio State Buckeye put to bed some old perceptions about him. Back in LA, there was the “snitch” story and beef with Lou Williams. But in Brooklyn Russell stepped up and embraced the spotlight. He was a leader for a fairly young team and even though they were eliminated by the 76ers in 5 games they played a competitive series.
Russell and Simmons reunion?
Ben Simmons and DLo played high school basketball together at Montverde Academy. The two helped lead the team to a 45-2 record and two national championships. Simmons was drafted first overall in 2016 while Russell was selected second overall in 2015.
While there are decisions to be made on Tobias Harris and Butler I believe the Sixers should prioritize maintaining Butler if possible and then going all in on Russell. Yes, Simmons is the point guard but the Sixers desperately need another person who can create shots. If this team adds Russell it improves spacing and gives them a dangerous weapon to use on offense.
Let’s say the Sixers add DLo and max out Jimmy Butler. There starting lineup could look like this.
- PG: Ben Simmons
- SG: Russell
- SF: Butler
- PF: Mike Scott
- C: Joel Embiid
This is just a potential lineup assuming Butler returns. They then let Harris go elsewhere. This lineup would then allow JJ Redick to come off the bench and provide scoring in the second unit. It will also allow for either Simmons or Russell to always be on the court to have a primary ball handler out there. With the attention that Embiid already requires you now have three people on the court who can create their own shot. It also would allow Simmons more room to operate 1 on 1 and teams would not be able to clog the lane.
All in on DLo
Look at the teams Lebron James has also had. You can also look at teams like the Bucks and Rockets as well. Lebron as the primary ball handler but you have to respect the shooters on the perimeter so it’s hard to double. Same with the Bucks. Giannis is not a shooter. However, with perimeter shooters around him, it allows him to terrorize teams in the paint or if you focus on Giannis it leaves shooters open. The Bucks were the second-best three-point shooting team in the league in terms of attempts and makes.
Point is this would allow Simmons to handle the ball and then have Russell, Butler, and Scott or whoever else space the floor and then you have Embiid down low. If you double one person you will pay the consequence. Just over a week away from free agency and the draft on Thursday we await the first domino to fall as Kyrie, Butler and Kawhi make their decisions. Should the 76ers be all in?