NBA Trades to Fix Struggling Teams (8/8)


Enough games have been played this NBA season to sense where teams stand relative to the rest of the NBA. Some NBA Teams have solidly established themselves as playoff contenders, whereas others have fallen outside of the playoff picture. It is early enough in the NBA season where the right trade could save a season for certain teams, and this eight-part series of trades could turn around each team involved with the right factors.

The Trade

Philadelphia Receives: Jordan Clarkson, Ivica Zubac

Los Angeles Receives: Jahlil Okafor, Sergio Rodriguez

Both the 76ers and the Lakers have been the butt of the NBA jokes in recent years for their high rate of losing and talent disparity, but with some high draft picks and free agent signings, both teams appear primed to make massive strides in improving their records for this season. In terms of making the playoffs, however, both teams aren’t quite there yet.

With this trade, the 76ers improve their back court while also clearing the log jam in their front court. Even without Okafor, the 76ers still have Embiid and Simmons, who are both future all-stars at the four and five, and they have two players in Ilyasova and Noel who have both started games in the past – playing at a high level.

Marilyn Indahl / USA TODAY Sports
Marilyn Indahl / USA TODAY Sports

Clarkson is averaging 15.4 points per game on 46% shooting in just 27.7 minutes. Simmons, Embiid, and Clarkson is a great young trio to build a team around. With shooters already on that team like Hollis Thompson, Robert Covington, Illyasova, Nik Stauskas, and a skilled Dario Saric on that team as well, they would be very fun to watch and dangerous in the future.

On Los Angeles, they are really the same way. They have some great young talent in Brandon Ingram, D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle, Larry Nance Jr. and now the center they so desperately need: Okafor. Among Russell, Clarkson, and Louis Williams, they are more than good in the back court, but Mozgov at starting center is not something the Lakers will want next year, two years, and especially five years from now.

Lakers / NBA.com
Lakers / NBA.com

Okafor, on the other hand, will be blossoming with time instead of declining. Okafor has averaged a very good 15.9 points and 6.3 rebounds per game in 27.9 minutes per game on 50.6% shooting for his career. His numbers with the starting role he had last year were even better with 17.5 points and 7.0 rebounds. If Okafor had the kind of complimentary back court talent that he didn’t have in Philadelphia and that he thrived with at Duke, his immense talent could definitely translate to wins. 

The other pieces in this deal, Zubac and Rodriguez, give each team a reserve level player for the position they give up. In Philadelphia’s case, they get a bench big man to back up Embiid and Simmons, both of whom have already missed considerable time in their young careers. It never hurts to have a young player with good size (7’1″ 265 pounds) like Zubac either.

Bill Streicher / USA TODAY Sports
Bill Streicher / USA TODAY Sports

For Los Angeles, they get the veteran guard Sergio Rodriguez, who has good playoff experience from his days as a trailblazer, and good experience as a whole on this young Lakers team. It doesn’t hurt that Rodriguez is 8th in the NBA in assists (122) this season either, even if his numbers are inflated from playing on the 76ers. 

Here’s what both teams look like after the deal:

Projected Los Angeles Lakers Depth
PG D’Angelo Russell Jose Calderon Sergio Rodriguez
SG Nick Young Louis Williams Marcelo Huertas
SF Brandon Ingram Luol Deng Metta World Peace
PF Julius Randle Larry Nance Jr. Thomas Robinson
C Jahlil Okafor Timofey Mozgov Tarik Black
Projected Philadelphia 76ers Depth
PG Jordan Clarkson T.J. McConell Jerryd Bayless
SG Gerald Henderson Hollis Thompson Nik Stauskas
SF Robert Covington Dario Saric Timothe Luwawu
PF Ben Simmons Ersan Ilyasova Richaun Holmes
C Joel Embiid Nerlens Noel Ivica Zubac

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