Philadelphia 76ers: Admiral Schofield trade highlights flawed team building

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

While the Philadelphia 76ers drafted Admiral Schofield in name only, their commitment to winning now highlights short-sighted long-term team building.

On June 20th, 2019, the Philadelphia 76ers selected Admiral Schofield, a 6-foot-6 guard/forward out of Tennessee with the 42nd overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.

Now sure, Elton Brand technically made the move on behalf of the Washington Wizards and their then-interim GM Tommy Sheppard with no intentions of Schofield joining his squad, but for the rest of time, Admiral will be remembered as a Sixers draftee whether he plays for one year or 10 in the NBA.

In hindsight, one could easily make the case that trading Jonathon Simmons and the 42nd overall pick to get off his $6 million contract was one of the best moves of the draft – I did so here – but after the dust has settled on free agency and the giant that is the NBA rests peacefully until training camp opens in September, it’s hard not to wonder why Brand was so eager to avoid adding a player like Scofield when Philly had four second-round picks to play with.

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Again, we have no idea if Philly would have selected Schofield 42nd overall had they opted to keep the pick, but it’s hard to argue that the Tennessee winger wouldn’t have been a better fit on the team’s current roster than Marial Shayok, the only second round pick Philly opted to keep who went 54th overall out of Iowa State.

Not for nothing, but Shayok is going to spend his first NBA season on a two-way contract, limiting his potential NBA exposure to 41 games.

Though Admiral Schofield, who I have to say has the best basketball name of all time, probably wouldn’t have broken into the 76ers’ rotation as a rookie, he is the kind of player Brand specifically targeted during the pre-draft process; a certified 3-and-D upperclassman with room to grow into his Charles Barkley-esque body.

Furthermore, Schofield would have been the third player on the Sixers from Tennessee alongside Josh Richardson and Tobias Harris. Does that matter even a little bit? No, but it would have been cool none the less.

But alas, instead of selecting a player like Scofield with the 42nd, or even 34th overall pick in the draft, a pick the team ultimately traded to the Atlanta Hawks to select Maryland big Bruno Fernando, Brand prioritized cap flexibility and only added one player to the 15 man roster from this year’s class.

But why?

Sure, Schofield isn’t a better player than say James Ennis right now, but who’s to say he won’t be in three-to-four years? He only signed a three-year, $4.1 million deal with the Wizards, so it’s not like Schofield would have counted for much more than the veteran minimum deals given out to players like Raul Neto, Kyle O’Quinn, Trey Burke, and Ennis.

While going all-in on win-now mode is admirable, the Sixers also have a roster that is pretty much capped out when it comes to adding external pieces interested in signing a market value, long-term contract. As we saw last summer when Landry Shamet jumped from a borderline first-round pick to a second-team all-rookie shooting guard, the draft is still the best way to find undervalued yet ascending pieces to fill out a roster, a value that veteran minimum free agents just don’t bring to the table.

Factor in the Bird Rights gained by having a rookie under contract for multiple years and really, there’s no reason not to take a chance on players in the second round who can play a little D and knock down the three at a 40 percent clip.

If he hits, you get a nice piece moving forward under club control for six, seven, maybe even eight years. And if they miss? The Philadelphia 76ers are on the hook for less than J. Simmons’ 2019-20 cap hit.

Next. Jonathon Simmons is now playing in the TBT. dark

While only time will tell if Scofield specifically can transform into an NBA All-Star, a starter, or just a garbage time Charles Barkley impersonator, that upside is why Sam Hinkie made deal after deal to acquire a war chest of second-round picks that could rival the GDP of a small country – depth matters and betting on players with no room to grow is a short-sighted way to sustain success long-term.