The Philadelphia 76ers should use their first-round pick on Lou Williams

(Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
(Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images) /

With a desperate need for bench scoring, could the Philadelphia 76ers trade their 2019 first round pick to the Los Angeles Clippers for Lou Williams?

After months of anticipation and over a half a dozen moves, the Philadelphia 76ers‘ starting five is their most potent in years.

With five players who can confidently score 20-plus points a night with ease, Brett Brown‘s squad may possess the most potent offensive attack Philly has seen this decade, maybe longer.

However, the bench is a whole nother story. Unless you’re somehow living under a rock, or have missed the last month or so basketball, the Sixers’ bench scoring is all but nonexistent.

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Over the team’s last three wins, the starting five has outscored the bench by a combined score of 330-42 and that’s with Joel Embiid missing a Tuesday night bout against the Charlotte Hornets. This isn’t a death knell for the team’s playoff hopes, as no one’s going to turn down a starting five capable of putting up a hundred points a night, but if one of those players were to have an off night, or worse suffer an injury, things could get ugly quick for Sixers 3.0.

And really, there’s not a whole lot they can do about it.

Outside of a surprise international signing (like Jimmer Fredette), or the re-emergence of Shake Milton, it looks like 76ers are going to have to address their deficiency in the draft. But that too may be a problem, as the team is currently slated to pick somewhere in the mid-20s in what has been described as a historically bad draft.

That’s not good.

Sure, last season Coach Brown turned garbage into gold by selecting Landry Shamet 26 overall, but in a cruel twist of fate, Elton Brand shipped the 6-foot-5 Wichita State product to LA as part of the Tobias Harris-trade.

With that position, a score-first swing-guard still arguably the team’s biggest name, what are the chances of Philly finding a diamond in the rough again, delivering on to themselves yet another off-ball shooter? Pretty low, but what if it doesn’t have to be? What if the Sixers could instead parlay their draft pick into a proven NBA player.

That’s right; we’re talkin’ Lou Williams.

At this point, I really don’t think I need to say much about Williams. An OG Philly draft pick from all the way back in 2005, Williams formed a diminutive dynamic duo with Allen Iverson from 2005-07 (and 25 games in 2010), delivering onto Philly some of the most entertaining teams they had pre-Process.

Since then, Williams was bounced around the league, playing for everyone from the Lakers, to the Hawks, to the Raptors, before settling with LA’s other team as part of Houston‘s trade for Chris Paul.

From there, Williams has continued his stint as the best bench guard in the NBA, earning his second Sixth Man of the Year award, and scoring the most bench points of any player in NBA history.

But at 32-years-old, the 6-foot-1 scorer is rapidly approaching the end of his NBA career. Sure, he can continue to play for five-plus more years, like Jamal Crawford, Jason Terry, and Vince Carter have shown us over the past few seasons, but to truly remain on top of his game, Lou Will’s prime is rapidly approaching its end.

While the Clippers could conceivably give Lou Will a chance to compete for a title, especially if they land Kawhi Leonard in free agency, it’s notable that the team shopped the reserve guard at the deadline, and were unable to secure the reported first round pick they desired for his services.

However, that might change this summer. Much like a few other teams in the league, like the Sixers, the Clippers owe their first-round pick to Boston if certain conditions are met, in this case failing to land in the lottery. While conventional wisdom would suggest that retaining a first-round pick is worth more than a seventh or eighth seed first round out in the playoffs, but since trading Tobias Harris, the Clippers have been on an absolute tear, and have all but locked up a place in the postseason barring a momentous collapse.

That means the team will be without a first-round pick, but will have the pedigree needed to add marquee free agents with their current corp.

Though in theory, the team could add a pair of forwards or even a big name center in free agency, but even if they stand back, the team still has five guards making steady playing time, with someone surely being the odd man out moving forward. On paper, three of their guards look like a lock to remain with the team and get expanded roles in 2017; first round picks Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Jerome Robinson, and Phillies former fan-favorite Landry Shamet.

Factor in Patrick Beverley and Garrett Temple and the Clippers’ backcourt is all but loaded for the foreseeable future.

Where does Williams fit in that fold?

At this point in his career he’s not really a good defender if he ever was one all, and because of his size, he can easily be schemed around by smart teams with flexible lineups.

At best, that makes Williams a situational scorer slated to make $16 million over the next two seasons, with his production all but certainly dropping with each passing year. On a team like the Sixers, who could use a cost-controlled score, Williams has serious value, but on a team like the Clippers with a need for young forwards, he’s a bit of an odd fit.

So why not make a deal?

Brand clearly has a good relationship with his former franchise, and after swinging the big Harris trade earlier this year, it’s conceivable that both sides could get to the table again and make something work. Throw in the fact that Brand and Williams were actually teammates from 2008-12 in Philly, and again in Atlanta for the 2013-14 season.

That kind of on-court connection is incredibly valuable.

Could Brand parley an unfavorable pick, with more draft compensation potentially available to secure the bench score Philly has been desperate for since, well since Williams left town back in 2012? That’s entirely possible, and is the kind of low-risk, high moral upside move that championship-contending teams make with frequency.

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While Lou Williams is a minus-defender, a mediocre ball handler, and an average-at-best 3-point shooter, he’s among the most well-respected players in the league and could provide the Philadelphia 76ers with what they need most: bench scoring, and for this year’s team, that’s certainly worth a first-round pick.