By Connor Thomas
The Philadelphia 76ers have not exactly had the perfect history when it comes to roster moves. In recent memory, there are very few trades that have worked out exceptionally well for the team. In fairness, a lot of the moves prior to 2016 were for the sole purpose of compiling draft capital, but even since 2000, the Sixers had the Dikembe Mutombo trade, the Kings pick swap in 2017, and not much else. Enter Daryl Morey as President of Basketball Operations. Morey was hired by the team exactly a year ago yesterday, and the fruits of one of his early roster decisions have never been riper than they were last night on the anniversary of his hiring (remember, last year’s season started late because of COVID). Just 14 days after taking over in Philly, Daryl Morey completed a draft day trade sending Josh Richardson and the 36th overall pick in the 2020 draft to the Dallas Mavericks for Seth Curry. At the time, it was a semi-exciting move that brought in a shooter whose brother’s name carried more weight than his. Now, almost a year later, it looks like one of the biggest fleeces in the past decade of NBA trades.
Why don’t we start with what the Sixers gave up to Dallas? The 36th overall pick ended up being used on Tyler Bey, who wasn’t even the best Bey in the draft class (that honor goes to Saddiq, who was drafted at #19). Bey has played in 18 career games so far and is averaging a whopping 1.0 ppg for his career, and is currently rostered on the G League’s Rio Grande Valley Vipers. That pick was essentially a nothing add in. All that’s left is to compare Seth Curry and Josh Richardson straight up. Well, that one has become a no contest. Since being shipped to Dallas, Richardson spent a year in the Lone Star State averaging 12.1 ppg on 42.7% shooting from the floor and 33.0% from deep. The Mavs ended their season in the first round of the Western Conference Playoffs and then traded Richardson straight up to the Boston Celtics for young big man Moses Brown, who is averaging 1.5 ppg so far this year. Clearly, the Mavs did not get their money’s worth. The Sixers, on the other hand, got more than they could probably have even imagined when the front office decided to pull the trigger on this move last November.
Seth Curry was solid last season, but had part of his year affected by a bout with COVID and some significant time away from the court as a result. Even with that time away from the game, Curry was able to average 12.5 ppg on 46.7% shooting from the field and a gaudy 45.0% from deep, good for 6th in the NBA. He was even more valuable come playoff time, bumping his ppg up to 18.8 on 57.8% from the floor and 50.6% from 3. It was an outstanding effort from Curry, despite the Sixers’ shortcomings in the Eastern Conference Semis. The good news, though, is that Curry hasn’t cooled down since last year’s postseason. So far through 9 games of this campaign, the younger sibling of the best shooting family in NBA history has been on absolute FIRE. Seth is averaging 17.8 ppg on an unreal 61.6% shooting percentage and is stroking it at a clip of 53.1% from 3. The shooting percentage is the best of any non-big man in the NBA. He has also become the team’s closer, at least for the time being while the Sixers are missing Tobias Harris and another guard who will remain nameless. It’s been an outstanding start for Curry, and as he gets more and more used to running a two man game with Joel Embiid (similar to the style that JJ Redick and Embiid used to run), there may even be another gear to his game.
So let’s recap. The Sixers got one of the best pure shooters in the NBA, both from the floor and from 3 point range, who, by the way, has proven to be nails down the stretch and in the playoffs. The Mavericks received one season of Josh Richardson that resulted in a 1st round playoff exit, a G League player, and a young, undrafted big man who is currently averaging 1.5 points. While a certain trade involving a certain guard has been the focal point in Philadelphia for a while now, it should not go unnoticed that the Sixers are currently enjoying the benefits of one of the most lopsided trades in their franchise’s history.