With the desperate need for additional shooters, the Philadelphia 76ers should consider trading Jonah Bolden to the Chicago Bulls for Antonio Blakeney.
In case you haven’t heard, the Philadelphia 76ers are in serious need of some additional shooters to balance out their super-sized defense focused roster.
Now granted, finding a player who knocks down 3 balls at an above-average clip is a lot easier than, say, finding a 6-foot-10, lightning fast Australian point guard, or a 7-plus-foot unguardable center from Cameroon, but still, with free agency now weeks old and the market for immediate contributors dwindling by the day, one can count the number of immediate contributors available to Philly on the open market on a single hand.
No, if the Sixers want to procure a high-upside shooter, especially one with room to grow, they’ll have to make a trade to get a deal done.
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This one of those hypothetical trades.
Now for long-time section 215 fans, you’ll probably know that I’m a huge fan of Chicago Bulls reserve shooting guard Antonio Blakeney (check out this post from Game 1 of the 2017-18 season for proof).
While the team obviously didn’t have too much success, as they didn’t even qualify for the 2016 NCAA tournament, the duo complemented each other well on the court because Blakeney is a knockdown shooter, and Simmons, then playing his natural power forward, hates to shoot.
Talk about a perfect pairing.
After taking a second crack at the NCAA as the unquestioned leader of the Tigers in 2016-17, Blakeney made the jump to the professional level after his sophomore season – a season where he averaged 17.2 points and 4.8 rebounds in 32.8 minutes of action a night.
Though he ultimately went undrafted, a course of action that wasn’t all that unpredictable, Blakeney latched on with the Summer League Chicago Bulls and worked his way onto the club on a two-way contract.
With nowhere to go but up, Blakeney lit it up with the Windy City Bulls and was named the 2018 G-League Player of the Year.
This string of quality performances led to an eventual elevation to the Bulls’ regular-season roster and a two-year extension that runs through the soon-to-be-current 2019-20 season.
From there, Blakeney spent the entirety of the 2017-18 season with the Bulls, averaging 7.3 points in 14.5 minutes of action over 57 games (three starts). Though his playing time and minutes weren’t always consistent, as he was trapped behind incumbent starter Zach Lavine, 2016 first round pick Denzel Valentine, and potentially combo guard Coby White, it’s not hard to imagine Blakeney’s do-it-all scoring efforts and 39.6 3 point shooting percentage translating well into a more consistent role as a Sixth Man spark plug.
I don’t know about you, but the 76ers could really use a player with that skill set.
But how could the team pull off such a trade to acquire Blakeney? Easy, ship Jonah Bolden to Chicago.
Now I’m a bit higher on Bolden than most fans in the 215 – we are both UCLA alums after all – but it’s hard to imagine him earning more than a handful of minutes a game in the forthcoming season as a deep reserve behind Joel Embiid, Al Horford, Tobias Harris, Mike Scott, and even Ben Simmons.
While the team has a robust collection of shooting guards as well, with Josh Richardson, Matisse Thybulle, Shake Milton, and Zhaire Smith all expected to earn reps at the two in 2019-20, only J-Rich is a certified floor spacer. Blakeney’s presence on the roster could give the team another young option on the wings who can not only hit open shots but create his own shot if need be.
And at $1.58 million for the forthcoming season, Blakeney is an absolute bargain.
And as for the Bulls? Well, they could flip a player who’d only ever earn garbage minutes for another upside forward who could earn minutes behind Lauri Markkanen and allow ex-Sixer Thaddeus Young to split time between small and power forward.
Would an Antonio Blakeney trade vault either team significantly closer to title contention? Probably not, but swapping out an underutilized player like Jonah Bolden for a knockdown outside shooter who just so happens to have a history with Ben Simmons is a win-win situation for both the Philadelphia 76ers and the Chicago Bulls.
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