A simple Ben Simmons for CJ McCollum trade would make the Philadelphia 76ers and Portland Trail Blazers rosters so much better.
With the Philadelphia 76ers and the Portland Trail Blazers having major roster issues, it would make all the sense in the world for these two playoff teams to strike a deal that sends Ben Simmons to the Rose City and CJ McCollum to the City of Brotherly Love this offseason.
Portland bowed out in the first round for the fourth time in five years. By losing to the division rival Denver Nuggets, it ultimately cost longtime head coach Terry Stotts his job. While Portland never had any issues of putting the ball through the cylinder, the Trail Blazers were a mess defensively. McCollum and point guard Damian Lillard offered the same offensively-only skill sets for them.
As far as Philadelphia, the top-seeded 76ers lost in the conference semifinals to the No. 5-seeded Atlanta Hawks in seven games, dropping three of four at the Wells Fargo Center. While center Joel Embiid played very well through injury, Simmons’ offensive limitations rendered him useless in the fourth quarter of games. He only attempted three field goals in the fourth quarter of those games.
Though neither team should blow it up, they should orchestrate a trade with each other to help solve their ongoing roster construction issues. Here is why this McCollum-for-Simmons trade makes way too much sense not to pull the trigger on.
Ben Simmons for CJ McCollum solves both team’s roster construction issues
With Simmons going to Portland, he would thrive playing alongside Lillard. While both are excellent ball handlers, only Lillard is a threat to score any buckets outside the paint. Though he is a perennial All-NBA player, Lillard is a turnstile defensively. This is where Simmons makes a huge difference. He has committed himself to that end of the floor and is the NBA‘s best wing defender.
By trading for Simmons, Portland will have a defensive cornerstone it can build around on that end of the floor to perfectly complement the gifted scoring threat that is Lillard. While the scoring will drop a tad, the defense should drastically improve. Portland may be able to finally win playoff series with great regularity with a bit more of a balanced roster. Simmons helps raise the floor.
With McCollum going to Philadelphia, he would provide the wing scoring the 76ers they simply could not get out of Simmons. He will better help space the floor for Embiid to go to work as his generation’s version of Hakeem Olajuwon. While the 76ers would be worse defensively, they will have another jump shooter akin to Seth Curry who could get hot and bail them out on offense.
By trading for McCollum the 76ers would have the unquestioned pecking order of star power. No longer would we have to debate who is the preferred player to build around in Simmons or Embiid. The clear and obvious answer now is Embiid. Though McCollum is an excellent No. 2, he is that and nothing more on a perennial playoff team. Simply put, he would slide into his 76ers role perfectly.
While this trade does not assert Philadelphia or Portland to the top of their respective conferences, what it does is give these contending teams a new look their conference rivals will have no choice but to adjust to. By making this trade, it would help the Trail Blazers get to the conference semifinals more regularly and maybe help get the 76ers into the conference finals.
Though this trade would not be a panacea, it would help improve both teams’ rosters considerably.