Philadelphia 76ers: Trading for Josh Hart is a major win-win

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

As the Los Angeles Lakers scramble to amass an offer for Anthony Davis, the Philadelphia 76ers could help them along by trading for Josh Hart.

In November, Josh Hart looked like the Los Angeles Lakers‘ best young prospect.

What a difference three months can make.

Since that eight-game stretch, where Hart was averaging 11.9 points, 1.8 steals, and an uber-effective 40.5 3 point shooting percentage, the former Villanova Wildcat has fallen back to earth; going from LeBron James‘next great guard sidekick to an ineffective scorer exiled to the bench more often than not.

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Now, as the team prepares to make a blockbuster, potentially Nets-esque trade to acquire Anthony Davis, it’s worth wondering if Hart would even tip the scales in such a move.

Now don’t get me wrong, Hart is still a solid young guard with upside, but the Lakers simply can’t trade four, five, six players for Davis in the middle of the season. To make the money, and roster spots work in a trade for Davis, who’s currently in the third year of a five-year, $145 million max contract (with a fifth-year player option), the Lakers can’t just ship out a small fortune of players making sub-$5 million to even things out.

No, the Lakers will need to move some players on smaller deals, like Hart’s $1.65 million, in the hopes of amassing additional draft capital to lure Dell Demps into making a mid-season deal.

The Philadelphia 76ers are a perfect team to help facilitate such a move.

Now some will argue that the 76ers should instead focus on trading for Davis themselves, shipping Ben Simmons back to his college playground of Louisiana in exchange for the ‘The Brow’, or make the more logical trade to re-acquire Jrue Holiday, but both deals could be costly, and may not occur this season, as the Pelicans could opt to wait until July to make a deal when Boston can negotiate further.

While Holiday is the perfect point guard to pair with Simmons moving forward, as he’s a solid 3 point shooter, a good defender, and likes to play off the ball, the 76ers need help right now to get things going as we inch closer and closer to the playoffs.

If Hart becomes available, why not make a deal?

Though Hart is in the midst of a very ugly slump going all the way back to January 2nd, where he’s averaging a season-low 7.5 points on a putrid 23 shooting percentage from deep, a lot of that has to do with the absence of one LeBron James, who’s missed 15 straight games following a Christmas Day groin injury.

Hart is a solid wing scorer, a perfect role player in this modern-day 3-and-D NBA. When paired with an elite playmaker with an eye for an outlet pass on a piercing drive, he can be a scary piece that keeps an offense running, but that’s about all he can do.

In the modern NBA, it’s not all that uncommon to see players taking less than a shot a game from the mid-range, but Hart is averaging only 3.1 shots a game from within 19 feet of the basket, good for the eighth-best mark on the Lakers. As mentioned before here, the 76ers really don’t have many drivers who can put the ball on the ground and score inside when the 3 ball isn’t falling. Though Hart certainly provides additional scoring as a 3-point specialist, he doesn’t make much of an impact inside.

However, that shouldn’t deter Philly from inquiring about the former Mainliner.

Unlike Landry Shamet, Furkan Korkmaz, Shake Milton, and J.J. Redick, Hart is a fantastic backcourt defender, currently ranked fourth overall among backcourt players with a 1.43 defensive Real Plus-Minus. Adding a player like Hart to the 76ers roster could be an absolute godsend, and give the team a high-upside guard prospect who could eventually start alongside Simmons at the two-guard spot.

Between Shamet and Hart, Philly could have one of the more versatile developmental backcourt combos in the league who could mask each other’s weaknesses and elevate the team’s play considerably.

Right away, Hart could replace Wilson Chandler as an end-of-game closer and give the 76ers a more balanced lineup to defend and attack at both ends of the court. An excellent off-ball player, Hart could provide the improved guard play that fans in the 215 (and Brett Brown) have been pining overall season, and craft a more balanced look with long-term potential.

Next. Jrue Holiday dropped the ball in 2017. dark

For the price of a player (probably Korkmaz) and this year’s first-round pick, which will likely fall in the mid-to-late 20s should Philly match last year’s Eastern Conference Semifinals out, the 76ers could buy-low(ish) on a homegrown prospect and hope that his offensive game elevates itself to his already superb defensive level. Will the pick help to bring Davis to LA? Who knows, but if Magic Johnson want picks and Hart is on the table, Elton Brand should make the call.