Striking the right balance between offense and defense is arguably the hardest part of team building, yet that’s the predicament the Philadelphia 76ers currently find themselves in.
As things stand, the Sixers have some exceptionally gifted defensive players, but none of them project as impactful offensive pieces, causing the offense to get bogged down and become increasingly predictable throughout the season. Everybody knows that once the game slows down in the half-court, Philadelphia is running a James Harden and Joel Embiid pick-and-roll, and due to the team’s limited shooting, it’s easy to flood the paint and limit that plays effectiveness.
Heading into the free-agency period, that’s an issue Daryl Morey needs to address. According to Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley, one player that could help bring some balance to the rotation is Caleb Martin of the Miami Heat.
“The 6’5″ swingman went from not winning much of anything in Charlotte to making a host of winning plays for the Eastern Conference’s No. 1 seed. His first season with the Miami Heat—which started on a two-way contract—saw him set several personal bests, including 9.2 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 50.7 percent field-goal shooting,” Buckley wrote on June 9.
What Does Martin Bring to the Sixers?
Throughout 60 regular-season games this season, Martin shot 41.3% from deep on 2.6 attempts per game, proving himself as a viable three-and-d wing on a contending team. In fact, even during the Heat’s run to the Eastern Conference Finals this season, Martin saw the floor in every game, averaging 12.3 minutes and averaging 4.5 points per contest.
The third-year wing is also a capable defender and can guard multiple positions on the perimeter. No, he’s not going to be a player that can reliably guard one-through-five, but in reality, there are only around ten players in the NBA that can do that. Still, Martin will give the Sixers floor spacing, and perimeter defense – two of their biggest needs heading into the off-season.
Martin isn’t just a catch-and-shoot threat, though. In fact, he averaged a 70% conversion rate with his looks around the rim and proved capable of attacking closeouts and attacking the mid-range from around the free-throw line, dropping 41% of his long mid-range shots throughout the season.
Martin Fills a Need
While Mattisse Thybulle continues to work on his offensive game, bringing in a three-and-d wing with a proven track record of impacting winning makes perfect sense. Martin earned every minute of floor time on a deep Heat team, proving himself as a viable option for other contending teams looking to add some low-cost production to their roster.
Giving Harden and Embiid a reliable shooter who can score on the drive, off the catch, or operate as a screener, will do wonders for their two-man game, and force defenses to stay home on the perimeter, creating additional driving lanes for the Sixers superstar duo to attack.
The Sixers aren’t too far away from being a championship-level team, but the moves they make in the coming months will have a significant impact on their ability to challenge for a championship next season, and considering Harden’s declining ability, and Embiid clearly being in his prime, the time to make a big swing is now.