Sixers best potential Joel Embiid co-stars for 2023-24 season ranked


A rock, a hard place or a third option that is equally not ideal? The Philadelphia 76ers are met with a multitude of options for stars to put next to Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey but none of the realistic options are home runs. The balance of the Sixers’ future currently weighs on James Harden’s decision to stay or go.

With Harden’s status of returning to the Sixers still up in the air, Daryl Morey and the front office are constructing backup plans. As the rumor mill churns out more of that scrumptious slop, five star players appear to be in the ballpark for Philly to obtain. This ranking will consist of those candidates the Sixers could likely land this offseason. But before diving into each player, it should be mentioned that no player is also an option.

Sixers should not do a gap year

If Harden leaves, the possibility exists for the Sixers to stand pat, come into the season without a replacement and wait until next offseason (or for the trade deadline for a potentially better option) to fill his void. Treading water would allow the franchise to potentially build up some asset capital and give them a clearer picture of how to move forward before a potentially loaded 2024 free agency class.

Just one question, though: how would the front office sell the players on this, especially Embiid? He is going to be 30-years old and just had his best season, sour ending notwithstanding. Would he feel good being told that the Sixers, after their best regular season in decades, are going to wait for another offseason to replace the best co-star he has ever had and essentially punt on title contention for a year? All of that after he fought through an injury in the playoffs for a third straight season?

The Sixers owe it not only to Embiid to do everything they can to remain in contention but to themselves. Unfortunately, patience is not a virtue they have on their side anymore. If they really want to win with Embiid, they have no business playing it safe or hoping for a pie in the sky. All of the following options, flaws and all, would be better than a gap year.

(Note: landing Damian Lillard would be an incredible coup and Zach LaVine would be pretty solid but both seem likely to demand more assets than the Sixers can/want to give up in a trade, so they are excluded from this exercise.)

5. Bradley Beal

The Washington Wizards may be on the brink of a rebuild and trading Bradley Beal would kick-start that process. Adding the star guard brings an intriguing on-court connection but frightening salary-cap ramifications.

Beal is a great player and could be very productive as the No. 2 to Embiid, a role he is better suited for than a No. 1 in Washington. His ability to shoot, create shots and make the right passes would retain the Sixers’ three-headed offensive attack. However, Philadelphia is not interested in acquiring Beal and making him a long-term building block, according to Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice. The main reason why is almost certainly not because of any deficiencies he has as a player.

The elephant in the room is, of course, the $207 million the Sixers would owe Beal over four years. Trading for Beal, even if the amount of assets sent to the nation’s capital is minimal, locks him into the Sixers’ core. Acquiring him would set Philly up to be among the first teams to face the challenges of the new CBA. And his no-trade clause gives him all the power if the Sixers decided to move on from him.

Taking on one of the worst contracts in the league is extremely risky, yes, but Beal is still very talented. If having him or no one are the only two options, the former is better for the championship-hopeful Sixers.

4. Chris Paul

It’s common knowledge that the Phoenix Suns are preparing to move on from Paul, meaning the aging star should not be too difficult to acquire. The pick-and-roll maestro should pair very well with Embiid and help Tyrese Maxey take a developmental leap. Plus, he’s one of the few available players that can pass as well as Harden. Playmaking is scarce on the Sixers, putting a high demand on that skill.

While Paul’s playmaking isn’t going anywhere and he can still shoot the three, he’s going to be one of the five oldest players in the league next year. At 38-years old and with all that mileage and injury concerns on a small frame, how much would the Sixers trust him to remain a great player? Age is truly catching up to him, placing a massive warning sign alongside his stellar IQ and whatever juice is left in the tank.

3. DeMar DeRozan

There haven’t been rumors directly linking DeRozan and the Sixers but the Chicago Bulls seem likely to shake something up this offseason. DeRozan has one more year left on his deal, making him a likely trade candidate and a potential boost on offense to another team.

DeRozan, simply put, is still a bucket. The 33-year old guard turned forward is a crafty scorer who is unafraid to take clutch shots, draw fouls and is absolute money from his spots. Even as his athleticism fades, the Bulls’ offense was noticeably better with him on the court.

While DeRozan is good, he would bring an overlapping skillset to the Embiid-led Sixers. Three-point shooting and defense are not his areas of expertise and never were, which is a problem for Philly. He’s a very good player that’s battle-tested but also has a bad rap in the playoffs.

2. Fred VanVleet

The Sixers are reportedly interested in bringing in Nurse’s floor general of the past few years. His knacks for shooting and playmaking would look much better with Embiid and Maxey alongside him. Defensively, he makes the most of his small but stout frame. Bringing some championship pedigree wouldn’t be a bad idea, especially in the form of someone still in their prime years.

Although VanVleet has a history of being a good shooter from the outside of the arc, he also has one of being woefully inefficient inside of it. Embiid and Maxey could help open the floor for him but it does hinder his ability to lead the Sixers single-handedly if needed in a pinch. Still, he would be a very solid fit and help smooth the transition for Nurse.

1. James Harden

In the end, the Sixers would be best off by just running it back with Harden.

Despite all the negativity and uncertainty surrounding the Sixers after their latest playoff collapse, they were one game away from the Eastern Conference Finals and had the third-best record in the NBA. Embiid and Harden built fantastic chemistry and became one of the most lethal tandems in basketball. With an upgrade at head coach by the name of Nick Nurse and Morey making more improvements around the margins, an already good Sixers team could be even better.

Of course, the ending of last season showed why Harden is so infuriating. Playoff failures galore, plus age and injury concerns, suggest Harden just isn’t cut out for it. But so long as the Sixers want to win with Embiid, they can’t lose star-level production for nothing.

Although relying on Harden to break through in the playoffs is not at all a great bet, he is the best realistic option the Sixers have.

The post Sixers’ best potential Joel Embiid co-stars for 2023-24 season, ranked appeared first on ClutchPoints.


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