76ers-Hawks Preview: Ben Simmons Sick, Al Horford Out, ATL Trade Targets

Ben Simmons

Getty Sixers guard Ben Simmons scored 17 points in a losing effort against Miami in Philadelphia.

The Philadelphia 76ers come off an emotional win to take on the Atlanta Hawks tonight and they could be without some key contributors.

Al Horford, who spent the first seven seasons of his career with the Hawks, will not play in the contest because of knee soreness. Ben Simmons has a minor respiratory illness and is probable for the contest.

Coach Brett Brown didn’t say who will start in Horford’s place. Mike Scott or Matisse Thybulle are the likely candidates, though it wouldn’t be hard to envision Furkan Korkmaz getting the nod.

Philadelphia won the first contest between these two teams earlier in the season and they play each twice more before the end of the 2019-20 campaign. The Sixers enter the contest with a record of 31-17, while the Hawks are 12-36.

Which Hawks Players Should The Sixers Be Scouting For Trades?

The Hawks have several players who are likely untouchable in trade talks, including Trae Young, and it would be difficult for the Sixers to pry these players from Atlanta. The franchise intends to grow with its young core, however, it does mean they don’t have players who are available in trade talks.

Jabari Parker might be the best fit, in terms of which players are available from Atlanta and would make a good fit on the Sixers.

Parker is making $6.5M this season and has a player option on his deal for next season. While John Collins was out earlier this year with a suspension, Parker showcased his offensive ability and for short stretches, reminded people of why he was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2014 draft.

Defense remains a major concern for Parker. However, if paired with Embiid or Horford, some of those concerns would be alleviated.

Philadelphia could use another scorer, particularly one that can get buckets on his own. Parker has showcased the ability to get to the hoops. He’s scoring 15.0 points in 26.1 minutes per game this season while making 50.4% of his shots this season. He’s sporting a solid 17.4 player efficiency rating.

Packaging Zhaire Smith and Mike Scott would work salary-wise in a trade for Parker.

Sixers To Reduce Ben Simmons Role As Primary Ball-Handler?

The Sixers could reduce Simmons’ role as the primary ball-handler. The team seems determined to use him in a variety of ways, Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer writes.

“That needs to be continued to be grown,” coach Brett Brown said Thursday. “It will mean. It will mean. I’m not saying, ‘It may mean.’ I’m saying it will mean that he’s not the primary ballhandler when you put him in those situations ...

“So really, it’s a goal and sort of the growth of Ben to put him in all these environments where he’s really good at and can impact the game at.”

Random Dribbles

  • Bruno Fernando has shown major flashes for the Hawks lately. The big man, was originally drafted by the Sixers, was assuming the team’s backup center spot until a calf injury sidelined him for Tuesday’s game. He’s listed as doubtful for the contest.
  • Zhaire Smith, who recently made his season debut, played for 10 minutes in the Sixers’ win over the Warriors on Tuesday. He went 1-for-5 while missing both of his treys. He did have a steal and he was +2 for the contest. It’s not certain that the Sixers will make a significant trade, though if they do Smith is likely the team’s best trade chip outside of their core.
  • Smith was wearing No. 8 this season, though he wore No. 7 for the contest on Tuesday. Tonight against the Hawks, he will wear No. 5, as the NBA has allowed the second-year wing to change his jersey number to honor the late Kobe Bryant.

READ NEXT: Sixers Joel Embiid Wears No. 24 To Kobe Byrant [Watch]

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