When the Sixers traded Andre Iguodala, two promising young players in Nikola Vucevic and Maurice Harkless, for all-star center Andrew Bynum, it was expected that the team would be title contenders for the next decade.
The idea of pairing the then 25-year-old Bynum with the young nucleus of Jrue Holiday, Thaddeus Young, and Evan Turner, had Sixers fans dreaming of a further playoff push than the previous season, and a future dynasty.
Unfortunately, the team’s vision shattered when Andrew Bynum hurt himself bowling and missed the entire season, forcing team management to rebuild.
Looking back at it, one might say that the Andrew Bynum trade was a complete failure. However, despite the Sixers losing out on two all-stars and two young talents, the Andrew Bynum trade has put the Sixers in a better position to succeed in the future.
As it currently stands, the Sixers have perhaps a more talented nucleus to build around than before the trade.
If the team had not made the trade, the Sixers would have moved forward with Iguodala and company for the 2012 season. This likely would have resulted in another season that fell short of winning a championship and another year of stunted development for the younger players.
This version of the Sixers would have had too many players with the same skill set and manning the same positions on the court. Andre Iguodala, Evan Turner, Maurice Harkless, and Thad Young are all talented players that thrive at the three spot, but the Sixers simply would not be able to give each of them adequate minutes at the position they were meant to play. With the lack of minutes to go around, Turner and Harkless would not have been able to properly develop as players.
Not to mention, Andre Iguodala would have most certainly left the Sixers at season’s end when he became a free agent for the first time in his career and the team would have gotten nothing in return for the all star’s departure.
In this scenario, the Sixers would have had another mediocre year that resulted in an early exit in the playoffs, losing an all-star without compensation in return, and delayed the rebuilding process a few years.
The biggest benefit of the Bynum trade was that it forced the Sixers to start the rebuilding stage at the perfect time.
New General Manager Sam Hinkie realized this when he took over the job before the draft.
Hinkie saw that the Andrew Bynum era was never truly going to take off due to his chronic knee issues and that the potential of the roster had been reached when the team took Boston to seven games two years ago.
Thankfully, Sam Hinkie took advantage of the opportunity that was created by the Bynum trade and began to rebuild immediately.
On draft night, he used the Sixers’ main trade asset in Jrue Holiday to acquire a hopeful franchise center in Nerlens Noel and a future draft pick from New Orleans then drafted a new point guard in Michael Carter-Williams. Hinkie then proceeded to let Andrew Bynum depart for Cleveland in free agency giving the team more payroll flexibility moving forward.
Now with the Sixers rebuilding and focusing on the future, the team is set to have two lottery picks in this year’s draft. As it currently stands, the Sixers are projected to have the ninth pick in the draft based on their record and the thirteenth pick based on New Orlean’s record. If things continue to go according to plan, the Sixers could have two top ten picks in this year’s draft, which is set to be the best draft since 2003 and features several franchise altering talents.
By the time next season begins, the Sixers could have a nucleus of Carter-Williams, Noel, Turner, Young, and two of the top talents in this year’s draft.
This is the ideal situation for the Sixers and the best possible outcome from the Bynum trade.
If the Sixers had not made the trade for Bynum, things would not be looking up the way they are now.
Losing Vucevic and Harkless hurt this team a lot last year, but now not so much. While it is true that Vucevic has become one of the great rebounding centers in the league and a diverse scorer, reports have surfaced that the Orlando Magic see him as a Nikola Pekovic type of player, which is not a bad thing, but Noel’s upside is far greater than Vucevic’s. Maurice Harkless is a talented young player only in his second season, who has yet to make a real impact on the Magic but has shown glimpses of his potential. Even so, this year’s draft class figures to have players far more talented and with more potential than Harkless.
On the surface, it would seem that the Andrew Bynum trade was a complete failure for the Sixers. On the other hand, if one looks deeper at the impact of the trade, you could see how the Sixers are now far better off making that trade than if they had not made it.
Essentially, the Sixers traded Holiday, Iguodala, and two young players for Carter-Williams, Nerlens Noel, two first round lottery picks, and more playing time for their own Evan Turner and Thaddeus Young.
The upside of the players brought in by Sam Hinkie and of the players who will be drafted in June is far and above the potential of a team built around Iguodala and Holiday. Based on this idea, the Sixers are sitting pretty right now and just waiting for the season to end so they can draft their next two stars and truly begin the new era of Sixers basketball.
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