After a year and countless transactions, the core of the team that once coasted down a long path of mediocrity is completely dismantled, except for Thaddeus Young. The Sixers combo-forward has been a part of recent reports of a handshake agreement that will send Thad ti Minnesota and in return 2013 first overall pick, Anthony Bennett would be shipped to the 76ers.
Bennett had a historic season in his rookie year, as he had one of, if not the worst rookie season of a first overall pick in the history of the NBA and in my opinion this prposed trade would be detrimental to a growing team. The Sixers, if this trade goes down, would be following their series of recent transactions by betting on pure potential, and gamble that could set the team back for many years to come.
Although adding a potential star seems awfully appealing, considering Young might opt out of his contract after the 2014-15 season, there is one main issue if Young gets dealt; leadership. If the deal happens, the player with the most experience in a Sixers uniform would be Arnett Moultrie and to say he has some character issues is an understatement. Jason Richardson has the most NBA experience on the team by a considerable margin, but after a year-long hiatus due to injury, he is probably not the leader the team is looking for in the locker room.
Considering player development is such an integral part of the Sixers’ upcoming years, lacking a bona-fide leader may very well stunt the growth of the young talent on the team. Michael Carter-Williams seems to be on track to become the leader of this team, but gaining that role might require more than a single year of NBA experience. Young is a devoted, hard-working player and model citizen off-the-court, who could influence the young players greatly. If Young is dealt, Hinkie will have a very hard time finding a veteran with the leadership skills and dedication that Young owns.
Bennett’s season was historically bad, but his good showing in the Summer League leaves us with a curious mindset. The main concern though is that his good showing came in the Summer League, rather than during true NBA action. His lack of a solidified position is also a cause for concern. The term “Stretch Forward” is a misused term when it comes to Bennett as he isn’t athletic enough to guard other 3’s in the NBA. Through college, he often displayed his above-average outside game, including 3-point range, but that was partially due to UNLV’s lack of ball movement. Bennett showed very little of those skills last season for Cleveland. He also does not possess the passing tools that would allow him to efficiently run at the 3.
Additionally, Bennett lacks the dominant post skills and size for him to succeed as a prototypical 4. Though several of the best power forwards in the League have a similar stature, their significantly more developed post skills allow them to pay effectively at the 4. He is pretty solid at grabbing boards as he is not afraid to use his bigger frame to his advantage, so that should be to his benefit at the power forward spot.
Still, to succeed in the NBA, he will need to vastly improve his defense. During the 2013-14 season, Bennett showed he didn’t have a clue on that end of the floor — on the ball or off. Additionally he’ll have to work on his defensive positioning in the post as Bennett had a tendency to get pushed around last year.
Although what he displayed in the Summer League is hopeful, transferring that success to the real NBA brings a significant challenge to Bennett. Obviously it’s a challenge he’ll have to meet if he wants to prove why he was the No. 1 overall selection in the 2013 NBA Draft. But meeting that challenge and proving all the critics wrong will take years and that is why, in my opinion, trading Young for a 2nd year, unproven, out of shape player would damage the future of this team.
The talent on the team has great potential, but dealing leadership to add more rising talent to a potential-ridden frontcourt would prove disastrous. Hinkie needs to take a step back and look at the current state of this team, and imagine the future without proper leadership to help develop the young players and lead them along the right path. Potential is containing the capacity to be great, but exposing it takes help from coaches and veterans. Hinkie really needs to think twice about trading Young, as it could delay the realization of a very bright future.
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