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    Instant analysis: Sixers trade for Buddy Hield

    Kyle Neubeck Avatar
    February 8, 2024
    Buddy Hield celebrating a made shot.

    The Sixers are trading for Indiana Pacers sharpshooter Buddy Hield, a source confirmed to PHLY on Thursday morning, putting a bow on conversations that had been ongoing throughout deadline week.

    Let’s walk through the details.

    Deal structure

    Hield is headed to Philadelphia in exchange for veteran forward Marcus Morris, guard Furkan Korkmaz, and a trio of second-round picks. The outgoing picks are as follows, first reported by Keith Pompey of the Inquirer:

    • 2024 Toronto 2nd
    • 2029 Portland 2nd
    • 2029 Clippers 2nd

    The pick part of the deal was the toughest part for these teams to sort through, which is why sources who spoke to PHLY on Wednesday expressed skepticism about a Hield deal despite extensive talks between the two teams. Indiana had been hoping to squeeze a first-round pick out of the Sixers, and Philly had balked at the idea as late as Wednesday evening.

    They landed in what feels like fair territory for the 31-year-old guard/forward. The Sixers now possess Hield’s Bird Rights ahead of his unrestricted free agency this summer, should they choose to retain him, but the pick outlay is small enough that they won’t feel forced to keep him at a bad number or more years than they’re comfortable with. Fair price for a rental, with options on the back end.

    Onto the player…

    What does Hield do for the Sixers?

    Hield has been tied to the Sixers for years at this point, though up until this season, that was mostly wishcasting from fans hoping for shooters. And that’s the headline here — the Sixers may not have solved their shooting woes with one move, but they certainly made a big dent in the problem.

    The Sixers now have one of the elite sharpshooters in the league on their roster, in both volume and efficiency. Hield’s worst mark from three for his career (36.6 percent) was his 2021-22 campaign split between the Kings and Pacers, but he has been a high-volume sniper for most of his eight years in the league. He might be one of the least shy players in the entire league: in under 26 minutes a night this season, Hield is shooting almost seven threes per game, which would put him second on his new team behind Tyrese Maxey. Entering the season, Hield had taken more threes since the start of the 2017 season than any other player in the league, cashing in on them at a 40.3 percent clip.

    Hield can do basically anything you’d want from a shooter, built on his base of fast, fluid mechanics. Whether he’s coming off of a pindown, flying down the floor in transition, or just relocating around the perimeter, Hield gets his shoulders square and finds the rim. Teams are so on edge defending the quick release that he’s frequently able to use it against them, using quick give-and-goes to find daylight. The process is so effortless that he can even squander a shot opportunity and create a new one in a matter of seconds, which will make him a useful partner in dribble handoffs with Joel Embiid.

    While Hield will help Philadelphia immediately, providing floor-spacing on a team desperately in need of it, his ability to play with the ailing Embiid is a major selling point. JJ Redick made magic with Embiid in two-man actions along the sidelines (as did Seth Curry), and that was with Embiid far less refined on offense than he is now. We’ve seen Tyrese Maxey build on that legacy this season, and in staggered minutes for Philadelphia’s top two stars, Hield allows them to keep a deadly movement shooter playing off of Embiid for all of his minutes.

    The shot volume in and of itself is great. Philly has lagged behind the league in three-point shooting for much of this season, to the chagrin of most of us watching the team.

    The downside? Hield hasn’t defended basically ever. He was a negative defender when he entered the league and has been a negative defender for most of the time since. Putting him in a backcourt with Maxey is problematic for that reason first and foremost, with Hield unable to cover for Maxey in any meaningful way.

    I worry about Hield’s off-ball attentiveness above all else. Even on an Indiana team that bleeds points, Hield’s awareness stands out in a bad way, and has been times scheme-breaking during his career, which in the opinion of this writer is a bigger problem than any issues guarding his man. And he’s not the only guy with this issue on Philly’s current roster — the impact will be muted once Embiid returns, but there’s work to do to turn this into a competent defensive group without the big man.

    Another factor to consider — Philadelphia has had fairly good buy-in from a team filled with contract-year players this season, and while Hield isn’t a “bad” egg by any stretch of the imagination, he has been a bit grouchy when things don’t go his way in the past. His feelings for his time in Sacramento, for example, are laid out in this (very funny) clip from a road shootaround during his time in Indiana:

    All in all, it’s a fairly cost-friendly gamble that Hield can juice your offense with and without Embiid, with the hope being that you can get buy-in from him on the other end as he plays for his next deal.

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