Following their big overtime win over Donovan Mitchell and the Utah Jazz on Wednesday, the Philadelphia 76ers are riding high heading into the NBA All-Star break with the best record in the Eastern Conference. Still, good times can always be better and Daryl Morey has never been shy about making moves to improve his roster.
One area where the team could use a boost is behind the three-point line. To that end, Philly’s president of basketball operations may have his sights set on a certain Sacramento Kings big man.
As reported by The Athletic‘s Shams Charania, the 76ers are among the slate of clubs said to have shown interest in Kings sharpshooter Nemanja Bjelica.
The Miami Heat, Golden State Warriors, Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics have also weighed the possibility of making a play for Bjelica, per the report.
Bjelica Isn’t Part of the Plan in Sacramento
After playing in a support role for the Minnesota Timberwolves over his first three years in the league, Bjelica reached new heights after making the move to Sacramento in 2018. During his first year with the Kings, he put up almost 10 points per game while knocking down better than 40 percent of his three-point attempts.
The partnership proved even more fruitful last season as the 6-foot-10 Serbian averaged career highs in points (11.5), rebounds (6.4) and assists (nearly three per game) while boasting an effective field goal percentage of 58.3.
With former No. 2 overall pick Marvin Bagley back in the fold this season, however, minutes have been hard to come by for Bjelica, who was eventually benched for a number of games after the Kings deemed that he was no longer part of their rebuilding strategy, as reported by The Sacramento Bee.
“The Kings reduced Bjelica’s role as part of general manager Monte McNair’s plan to rebuild around De’Aaron Fox, the 23-year-old point guard who recently signed a five-year, $163 million contract extension,” wrote Jason Anderson.
Bjelica has appeared in just 18 games for the Kings this season, starting just once. While his outside shooting has sagged as a result of his inconsistent role, he is actually scoring and setting up his teammates at a higher rate than ever before per 36 minutes.
He is also finishing close to the hoop at a high rate in a small sample size. Within three feet of the basket, he has converted 83.3 percent of his shot attempts in ’20-21. That said, his ability to space the floor likely remains his most alluring attribute from a Sixers standpoint.
76ers Are Middling From Behind the Arc
Even in the big win over Utah, Philly lost the three-point battle by a huge margin, attempting only 25 shots from deep in an OT contest while making just eight. The team has multiple deep threats, but scheme, style of play and the underperformance of some have combined to limit its potential to spread the floor.
For the year, the Sixers rank in the bottom three league-wide in three-point attempts. And while they are connecting at a respectable 36.5-percent clip, that number still ranks smack dab in the middle of the Association.
Bringing in a frontcourt floor-stretcher like Bjelica likely wouldn’t flip that script, but having more shooters with size is always a good thing.
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