Signs of Life in Philadelphia; the Sixers Free Agency

For the first time in a few years, Philly looks like they've made some decent signings in the off-season.

Less than a week into free agency, the Sixers have made a few moves that look quite good. First, they let Ish Smith walk and he signed with the Pistons. While I previously praised Ish Smith for the work he did (and I still stand by those words), Philadelphia clearly is hoping to have the ball in Ben Simmons' hands a lot, reducing their need for a full-time point guard.

Move number two is the signing of Jerryd Bayless for 3 years and $27 million. Bayless feels like he's been around a while - he's an 8 year veteran, after all - but he's only 27 years old. He has somehow already played for six different teams and has had trouble latching on for whatever reason. However, he has a definite skill that fits Philly. While the Sixers were atrocious in plenty of areas last season, one of the biggest needs moving forward was outside shooting. Enter Bayless.

Source: Mark Runyon | BasketballSchedule.net

Jerryd's outside shooting has been his calling card since college when he shot over 40% from deep at Arizona. It stayed with him at the next level and in his 4th season he shot over 42% from outside. The numbers have fluctuated a bit since then, but last season in Milwaukee Bayless hit nearly 44% from beyond the arc, making over 100 threes on the season. Defensively he's OK - he won't win you games on that end of the floor and he won't be expected to. His draw is that he hit 47% of his catch-and-shoot threes last season, so he provides definite lift and an outside threat.

The biggest signing so far - in my opinion - is Gerald Henderson on a 2 year, $18 million deal. For the same price as Bayless, Philly is getting an all-around player without a lot of weaknesses. He's not a world-beater offensively, but he's a career 39% shooter on corner threes and has been 33% or better on threes in each of the past four seasons. Again, he's not a lights-out shooter from outside, but he's capable - last season he was 35% overall from deep and 44% in the corner. 

Much like Bayless, Henderson is relatively young, turning 29 this coming December. The difference between the two is that Henderson is a solid defender while Bayless is mediocre-at-best on that end. Opponents shot 8% worse against Henderson inside of 10ft than they did regularly. He had a little trouble defending the outside shot, but it speaks partly to the fact that he was playing more guards than forwards, even though he's a strong guy who can body up pretty well against tougher opponents. In my mind, Henderson can play the 2 or 3 while Bayless can play the 1 or 2, meaning back-court minutes are going to be used up by these guys who can actually play. Bayless averaged 29 minutes per game last season and Henderson averaged over 30 minutes as a starter in Charlotte before seeing his PT take a dip in Portland. If TJ McConnell steps up and performs well, there might be an actual battle for minutes between serviceable guards for the Sixers - talk about a welcome change.

Not surprisingly, these signings will fly mostly under the radar: The Sixers are still coming off a near record-setting bad season, they still drafted Ben Simmons as a headline stealer, and they still have an overcrowded front-court. In all likelihood, Philly is not done making moves. The team still holds about $40m under the salary cap, so a few more signings will probably come, even if the big names are mostly off the table. 

We're staring into the eyes of a bad team in Philadelphia, and I mean that in a good way. We're no longer looking at a historically bad team. Progress!

Like what you've read? Share it with your friends on      or  

Free Agency Tracker

Keep track of 2018 NBA free agency signings with our live free agency tracker.

The NBA Collection

NBA themed T-Shirts that are actually worth wearing.

Podcasts

Podcasts from the Hashtag Basketball Podcast Network, covering NBA and fantasy basketball.

Fantasy Basketball

Expert fantasy basketball analysis, podcasts, injury updates, and 19 free fantasy basketball tools to help you dominate your league this season.

NBA Coverage

Full coverage of all 30 NBA teams.