Philadelphia 76ers: Alec Burks, Glenn Robinson are already paying off

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

Though the sample size is still relatively small, Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson III are already paying massive dividends for the Philadelphia 76ers.

Brett Brown has never had a prolific bench over his seven-year tenure with the Philadelphia 76ers.

Sure, he’s had a handful of solid contributors, like Marco Belinelli, Jahlil Okafor, and… Markelle Fultz(?) who put in an honest day’s work in reserve duty, but the Sixers’ bench isn’t going to make anyone forget about the Los Angeles Clippers anytime soon, let alone teams like the Milwaukee Bucks or the Miami Heat who could very well stand between the team and a trip to the NBA Finals.

But in a weird twist of fate, that may have changed virtually overnight for the low, low price of three future second-round picks.

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Tasked with the borderline impossible, um, task of elevating the 76ers’ overall talent level with only Zhaire Smith, James Ennis, and a handful of picks to play with, Elton Brand poached a pair of 6-foot-6 wings from the Golden State Warriors, and so far, the results have been beyond encouraging.

Through three games of action, Glenn Robinson III looks like an ideal 3-and-D guard/forward the likes of which the 76ers have sorely missed since Jimmy Butler‘s heel-turn exit to South Beach. Robinson has the size to guard any NBA position sans-center, with the speed to get up and down the court with ease, and the hops to slam down a monster dunk the likes of which Philly fans haven’t seen in quite some time.

And as for Alec Burks, well, fans in the 215 have only scratched the surface as to how good the left-handed assassin can be in the Sixers’ scheme. Whether playing on the wings as an off-ball guard or on it as a second unit point guard, Burks is one of the rare players to don a red, white, and blue jersey in 2019-20 who can actually dribble the ball and turn a contested shot into an open shot.

I know, I know, talk about revolutionary.

With a bit more time to familiarize himself with the 76ers’ scheme, it’s entirely possible that Burks could become a fixture of Brown’s game-closing lineup, a role he excelled in for the 76ers’ overtime win over the Brooklyn Net.

In a way, Brand’s decision to target Burks and GRIII instead of a single player like Bogdan Bogdanovic, Derrick Rose, or Marcus Morris is actually a genius for this very reason.

Robinson is a perfect off-ball wing who is ideally suited to be a fifth starter in a star-studded starting five. Over his 48 game tenure as a starter in the Golden State, GRIII had a 16.2 usage rate – the 16th highest mark of any player on the Warriors. Yet, despite hardly having the ball in his hands, Robinson still ranked fifth on the team in scoring with 12.9 points per game, while shooting a then-team leading 40 percent from beyond the arc.

Burks can do a lot of the same things, but his game is far more hands-on. Boasting a 23.0 usage rate, Burks’ ability to get his own bucket coming off the bench helped the Warriors considerably, even if it seldom showed up in the wins column. Even if Burks only averages low double-digit points per game down the stretch, he’s the kind of player who can drop 20, maybe even 30 to steal a road game in the playoffs.

If one player falters, then in theory the other can help to pick up the slack, and if both are hot, then boy, oh, boy could Philly be in business.

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Ultimately, for as good as Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson are, the duo can’t instantly transform a pretender into a contender alone – just ask the Golden State Warriors. Fortunately, the Philadelphia 76ers were already darn near contenders before they added the duo and didn’t have to surrender a player of note to bring the duo into the fray. For three second-round picks, what more could you ask for?