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Getty John Collins #20 of the Atlanta Hawks dribbles the ball against Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers.

If only the Philadelphia 76ers could put together the two halves of their season so far. To open the year, Philly was cruising offensively, gathering a top-ten offense before Harden went down with an injury.

But Philadelphia’s had the league’s best defense so far in November, which coincided directly with Harden’s absence.

With everyone clicking, it’s a tantalizing proposition. But what if it could get better? In a proposed trade by Bleacher Report’s Gregg Swartz, it just might. Here’s what Swartz cooked up for the Sixers:

Philadelphia 76ers Receive: F/C John Collins, SG Bogdan Bogdanović

Atlanta Hawks Receive: PF Tobias Harris, SF Matisse Thybulle, G Shake Milton

And here’s Swartz’s rationale on the move:

“Collins is younger, cheaper, carries more upside than Harris and can’t dunk on Joel Embiid anymore if the two are teammates. Adding Bogdanović off the bench gives Philly’s second unit some added scoring and playmaking as well.”

Why Philadelphia Says Yes

Collins has seen a serious dip in production this season, no doubt a result of his minimized role in Atlanta. At 14 percent, the former Wake Forest Demon Deacon’s usage rate has never been lower. Though still a starter, much of the offense has been running through Trae Young or Dejounte Murray, while center Clint Capela is in the midst of a renaissance season of his own, further taking away touches from Collins.

In the months of November (9 games) the Sixers rank:

-1st in Defensive Efficiency
-5th in steals
-5th in opponents pts off turnovers
-3rd in opponents 2nd chance points
-9th in Net Rating
-19th in pace

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Despite the injuries some really encouraging signs of late

— Sean Barnard (@Sean_Barnard1) November 23, 2022

But in Philadelphia, Collins would slot into Harris’ role. But where Collins shines — the paint — is also where the Sixers have run into problems in the past (see: Ben Simmons’ pairing with Joel Embiid). Collins isn’t a three-point shooter by any means: he’s connecting on just 27 percent of his 3.1 attempts per game. But Collins does excel as a screener, which the Sixers could always use more of in a lineup that, on its best day, features James Harden.

Of more interest to Philadelphia might be Bogdan Bogdanovic, the sharpshooting wing who is in the midst of a down season for Atlanta. He’s never shot worse than 37 percent from deep but is just two removed from netting 44 percent of his threes. Bringing Bogdanovic off the bench would fulfill a role thought to be taken by Danuel House. At the moment, though, Bogdanovic is still on the injured list, having not yet suited up yet this season.

It might hurt losing Thybulle, whose defense has been a key reason why the Sixers have clawed their way to the top of the defensive pile in November. But Thybulle is a playoff liability; Bogdanovic scorched the Sixers two seasons ago in the playoffs. Unfortunately, that’s the tradeoff Philadelphia must swing in order to clear Tobias Harris’ cap space.

No Maxey, No Problem for the Philadelphia 76ers

The best news for Philadelphia in this trade is that the Sixers get to keep their star player Tyrese Maxey. Recently, an Eastern Conference executive broke down what the Sixers would have to get back in return for Maxey.

And let’s just say, John Collins and Bogdan Bogdanovic are not those players.

“But they’d need to get a star if they were to package, say, (Tobias) Harris and Maxey together. Not that Toronto would do it but someone like (Pascal) Siakam, an All-Star type of player.”

the biggest supporter reporting for duty. ????????

— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) November 23, 2022

Barring an unforeseen trade for some superstar, the Sixers would be wise to keep Maxey in the fold. He not only represents Philadelphia’s current playoff hopes, but his youth could singlehandedly keep Philadelphia’s playoff window open a little longer, especially with the ever-aging James Harden and PJ Tucker on the roster.

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Tags: basketball nba breaking news 5 fast facts crime politics shopping is in the midst bogdan bogdanovic the sixers the philadelphia percent tobias harris off the bench atlanta hawks james harden in opponents john collins joel embiid this season in november

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Ja Morant Shows Love to Former Teammate Following Sixers Matchup

Getty Ja Morant #12 of the Memphis Grizzlies handles the ball against Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers during the second half at FedExForum on December 02, 2022 in Memphis, Tennessee.

The Philadelphia 76ers most recently matched up with the Memphis Grizzlies and suffered a 117-109 loss. This is expected to be the final game before James Harden returns to the floor to give the team a necessary offensive boost. Memphis once led by as many as 18 points and maintained control for most of the game, and a late comeback attempt from the Sixers came up short. One of the notable storylines leading up to the matchup was De’Anthony Melton making his return to Memphis to face his former team.

While Melton was unable to get his revenge on the scoreboard, there was still clearly love felt between him and his former teammates. Ja Morant was asked about Milton following the game and put it, “That’s my guy. Obviously, we’re on opposite sides now. Inside those four lines, you pretty much can’t have friends, so I just got to come in, do my job, and win a game,” per Ky Carlin of SixersWire.

???? . it's 4L tho ???????? @DeAnthonyMelton

— Ja Morant (@JaMorant) June 24, 2022

Morant vs Milton

Leading up to the matchup Melton revealed that there was quite a bit of trash talk with his former teammates. He said the group chat had heated up of late and put it, “I’ve been talking mess for a couple months now and I’ve been waiting to go out at them. They already know I’m coming.” He went on to say, “I’ve been telling them I’ve been waiting to go at them. So they already know I’m coming, no matter what. And they’re going to have to watch what they do around me, too,” per Gina Mizell of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Morant, who is putting forth an MVP-like season thus far, continued his string of strong play this season against the Sixers. He finished the victory with 28 rebounds, eight rebounds, and three assists. Melton served as the primary defender during the matchup. In the 35 partial possessions the two squared off, Morant was held to nine points, two assists, and shot 3-9 from the field. Melton also blocked a shot and forced a turnover. On the other hand, the Sixers guard finished the game with 13 points, six rebounds, and four assists in his 34 minutes of play.

This move by Ja Morant ????

— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) December 3, 2022

Melton’s Role on the Sixers

The Sixers traded for the 24-year-old guard in exchange for Danny Green and the 23rd overall pick. Melton has become extremely valuable to the Sixers due to his defensive impact and the additional ball handling he provides. Melton ranks fifth in the NBA in deflections per game and second in steals per game so far this season.

Who are the NBA's best defensive playmakers?

⬆️ Menace in the passing lanes
⬇️ Passive in passing lanes
➡️ On-ball thief
⬅️ Not picking pockets

Who stands out?

Passing Lane Defense = rate of deflections + interceptions
Pickpocket Rating = on-ball steal rate

— BBall Index (@The_BBall_Index) December 3, 2022

He is especially valuable as a rotation guard for the Sixers due to the defensive shortcomings of Harden and Tyrese Maxey. As Philadelphia continues to embrace its defensive identity, Melton is vital to the direction they are attempting to go in. While the Sixers will need to figure out how to keep this defensive impact with the stars on the floor, Melton’s expanded time on the court contributed to their improvement on defense.

Sixers defense this season:

2nd in defensive rating
1st in PPG allowed
1st in 3P% allowed

— StatMuse (@statmuse) November 30, 2022

As the Sixers return to full strength, Melton will continue to have a valuable role in the rotation. While his minutes will surely be reduced by some capacity, the ability he provides must not go unnoticed. The four-year NBA veteran has been the biggest bright spot of the offseason additions as his impressive athleticism and well-rounded play stand on the roster. The team will need to figure out what rotations work best once they are fully healthy, but Melton’s role should not be overlooked.

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