Ryan Broekhoff could be an absolute steal for the Philadelphia 76ers.
Now granted, in actual NBA time it hasn’t been all that long, as the Sixers elevated Norvel Pelle to a full-on NBA contract a little over a month before the league’s midseason shutdown but with only so much time left before the playoffs were set to start in late April and two-pay players ineligible for postseason play, many justifiably assumed that Elton Brand was content with the collection of players he already had under contract and would leave it at that.
Welp, all it took was a global pandemic and a slight tweak to the NBA’s roster rules to account illness, and all of a sudden, Brand is wheelin’ and dealin’ like a young Howie Roseman.
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But logically speaking, there’s no way this player, the 17th man on a 17 man roster, could really have that much of an impact on the impending season, right? If he’s available now, and on a two-way deal no less, clearly he can’t be that good. Well, my friends, I guess you aren’t familiar with Ryan Broekhoff‘s work.
Measuring in at 6-foot-6, 215 pounds, Broekhoff made stops in Turkey, Russia, New Zealand, Auckland, and his native Australia before signing a two-year deal with the Dallas Mavericks in 2018 – becoming an NBA rookie at the tender age of 28. Over his 59 game career with Rick Carlisle’s club, Broekhoff’s numbers were as consistent as they come, averaging a near-identical four points in 10 minutes of action a night while knocking down 40 percent of his 2.4 3 pointers per game.
Fun fact: In his three career games versus Philly, Broekhoff has averaged an even 10 points in a little under 19 minutes of action while shooting 5-11 (45 percent) from beyond the arc. I’m not calling Broekhoff a ‘Sixer Killer’ by any means, but what more can you ask from a fun fact?
For a team desperate for outside shooting – and even after the additions of Glenn Robinson and Alec Burks the Sixers still very much qualify – there really isn’t a better option left on the open market than Broekhoff; it’s just too bad that’s all he does.
You see, since making his NBA debut, Broekhoff has attempted 185 field goals as a pro, with 144 coming from 3 point range. That’s virtually unheard of even in the modern NBA. Just for context, Broekhoff has attempted less 2 point shots than he’s appeared in NBA games, a near impossibility for a player with 238 points to his name. How is that possible? To make matters worse, Broekhoff only makes an average of 25 percent of his 0.2 shots within five feet of the basket per game according to the NBA’s advanced shooting statistics, a statistic made even more laughable by just how infrequently Broekhoff puts his head in the ground and drives it to the basket.
Broekhoff attempts a layup about as much as Ben Simmons attempts a 3, which tells you all you need to know.
For what its worth, Broekhoff is also a virtual non-factor on the defensive side of the ball, earning the 27th best defensive rating among all shooting guards in the NBA last season according to ESPN’s Real Plus-Minus. That’s not terrible – it’s actually in the top 25th percentile of the NBA’s shooting guards regardless of sample size – but it’s not like Brett Brown is going to put Broekhoff on an opposing team’s best wing when Simmons leaves the court and call it a day. Things will go bad.
So in summation, Broekhoff is a bench sharpshooter who can go off a la Furkan Korkmaz on occasion – most notably against the Sixers – but not at a high enough clip to really justify a playoff spot. He’s got good size, deceptively decent defensive abilities, and enough athleticism to move around the court as an off-ball screener to get open for a savvy floor general but other than that, he’s a gargoyle on the 3 point line who does the most damage as a catch-and-shooter.
But this isn’t 2K. A player isn’t only as useful as their on-court attributes and as we’ve seen over the years with players like T.J. McConnell and Dario Saric, Tobias Harris and Boban Marjanovic, and Joel Embiid and Justin Anderson, sometimes pairing a star up with one of their friends is a great way to build a happy, healthy team.
Could Broekhoff and Simmons be 2020’s answer to ‘Trust The Friendship’?
Like Broekhoff, Simmons is a native of Melbourne, a member of Coach Brown’s Australian national team, and an avid supporter of his homeland (check out his koala shorts here). As you may or may not recall, a suit jacket-clad Broekhoff actually gave a speech at the lone Sixer-Mavericks game of the 2019-20 season alongside Simmons and fellow Aussie Jonah Bolden to raise awareness, and money, in regards to the wildfires that were at the time ravishing the Australian brush.
When the Sixers finally announced Broekhoff’s signing almost a day after WOJ broke the news, Simmons was featured prominently in the comments section, congratulating his friend on his good fortune.
And let’s be honest, why wouldn’t he?
As any Philadelphia 76ers fan worth his weight in water ice will attest, Simmons is at his best when surrounded with elite 3 point shooters. Broekhoff can play next to Korkmaz at small forward, next to Harris at shooting guard, or even next to Harris at small forward. He won’t demand the ball, won’t be out of place, and won’t get too fancy with the ball in his hands. Heck, Broekhoff may go the final eight games of the season without dribbling the ball a single time – he’s just that one dimensional of an offensive weapon.
Factor in the, well, fact that by signing Broekhoff now he will not only be eligible to play with the team when the playoffs come around should one of the team’s players opt-out and/or get ill and this minor deal looks more like an insurance policy than a simple tryout.
But what if it’s more?
By signing Broekhoff to a two-way contract now, the Sixers will have his Non-Bird Rights going into the offseason. That allows Brand and company to extend Broekhoff to a new, minimum contract at 120 percent of its value for up to four years. So, theoretically, the over-the-cap Sixers could offer Broekhoff a four-year deal worth as much as $7.8 million. Is that great money for an NBA player? No, Al Horford makes almost four times that much money in 2019-20 alone but it’s a noticeable pay bump for a borderline player who initially came to the NBA on a two-year $2.4 million deal.
Could Ryan Broekhoff’s addition ultimately prove fruitless for the Philadelphia 76ers? Most definitely. He may ultimately only see the court in garbage time, or in games where Brett Brown opts to rest his starters. That being said, it’s very, very uncommon for any team to secure a 29-year-old professional shooter on a two-way contract typically reserved for younger players, regardless of his relationship with Ben Simmons and Brett Brown. If you think about these next eight games are a tryout for 2020 and beyond, this otherwise inconsequential move could actually be incredibly valuable for the Sixers for years to come.