This past Saturday, August 23rd, the 76ers finalized their portion of a three-team trade that ultimately facilitated the Minnesota Timberwolves sending NBA All-Star and Olympic gold medalist Kevin Love to LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers. Despite losing one of the most dynamic talents in the league, the Timberwolves ended up getting from the Cavs the top overall picks from the past two drafts. Below is a look at the transaction from the Sixers’ side of things.
F Luc Mbah a Moute - Via Minnesota Timberwolves...Has averaged 6.3 P / 4.9 R in 399 career games played over five NBA seasons...Originally selected 37th overall by Milwaukee Bucks in 2008 NBA Draft...Reached NCAA Final Four in each of his three seasons at UCLA, playing with multiple NBA players during that run, including Kevin Love.
G Alexey Shved - Via Minnesota Timberwolves...Has averaged 6.5 P / 2.5 A / 17.9 minutes in 140 career games played over two NBA seasons… Originally signed by Minnesota Timberwolves in July 2012 after playing in Russia...Member of Russian bronze medal team from 2012 Summer Olympics.
2015 1st-Round NBA Draft Pick - Via Cleveland Cavaliers (Miami Heat selection)
F Thaddeus Young - Has averaged 13.7 P / 5.5 R / 1.4 A / 1.4 S in 516 games over seven NBA seasons, all spent with 76ers...Originally selected 12th overall by 76ers in 2007 NBA Draft…Dependable, steady contributor that has only missed 42 career regular season games, and produced at least 12.7 P / 5.0 R in each of his last six seasons.
The Sixers lose the most experienced and arguably most respected player from last season’s roster. He also finished the year as the team’s top scorer (1,417 P) and top total rebounder (476 R). Young’s 17.9 P scoring average was the highest of his career; he also made a career-best 90 3FG’s.
Looking more at tangible consequences of the trade, the Sixers now need to address a substantial hole on their front line. Not only did Young give the Sixers an interior presence, he proved he could score on the perimeter last year as well. Who on the current roster could be candidates to fill that type of role? Right now, there are no proven options. Byron Mullens and Brandon Davies are bigs that have attempted to develop an outside shooting touch, but those projects remain very much works in progress; Mullens, as Jeff McMenamin of Philadunkia pointed out, reportedly signed with a team in China.
In terms of intangible factors associated with the deal, the Sixers have to fill a veteran leadership vacuum. Based on returning playing time, and accomplishments achieved with that playing time, reigning NBA Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams - whose 2,414 minutes a year ago ranked second to Thaddeus Young’s 2,718 minutes - becomes the team’s leader by default. Still, the fact that he’ll be just 23 years old when his second professional season begins is worth noting. Carter-Williams showed he could handle a lot of pressure and attention last year, but the expectations - and leadership burden - will be bigger in 2014-2015. It’ll be intriguing to watch him approach these increased responsibilities, while also attempting to make progress on the court.
The end of Thaddeus Young’s very solid run with the Sixers was the latest sacrifice made in the organization’s committed, long-term approach to turning itself into a consistent winner. To a large degree, it was kind of surprising that Young stuck with the team this long. Young’s name surfaced when trade rumors began to swirl last winter, and multiple reports - local and national - indicated he was available at various points during the off-season. Young handled himself with admirable professionalism that past two years, when he lived through the organization shifting its focus from contending for the Eastern Conference title to replenishing the franchise with a new, youthful core. At one point this past year, Young reportedly expressed his desire to be moved to a new team, in hopes of heading to a winning destination. In the end, Young got to move on. Like his old club, it’s a team with long-term promise, but presently faces short-term challenges.
The 700 Level takes an Alexey Shved-centric look at the trade: