Despite suffering another huge disappointment in the 2019-20 NBA season, the Portland Trail Blazers still intend to continue building around the explosive backcourt duo of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. However, according to Andy Bailey of Bleacher Report, the Trail Blazers’ decision to keep Lillard and McCollum should depend on the movements in the 2020 offseason.
If a player like Philadelphia 76ers superstar Ben Simmons becomes officially available on the trading block this fall, Bailey suggested that the Trail Blazers should explore trading McCollum to the City of Brotherly Love to acquire the former No. 1 overall pick.
Despite his inability to space the floor, Simmons might make a lot of sense for the Trail Blazers. As Bailey noted, pairing him with Lillard would enable them to create their own version of the Golden State Warriors’ dynamic duo of Stephen Curry and Draymond Green.
“For Portland, this would purely be a talent play. Simmons’ refusal to shoot jumpers would cause problems similar to those he has faced in Philadelphia, but the presence of Damian Lillard would certainly alleviate them. Think of him as a bigger, more athletic Draymond Green to Lillard’s Stephen Curry. The level of playmaking Simmons could provide at the 4 would open things up for everyone else on the floor. And with Jusuf Nurkic slowly expanding his game to include threes, there would be plenty of opportunities for Simmons to attack an open lane.”
Though he’s yet to unlock his three-point shooting skills, Simmons could potentially give the Trail Blazers a very reliable second scoring option, rebounder, playmaker, and perimeter defender. This season, he averaged 16.4 points, 7.8 rebounds, 8.0 assists, and 2.1 steals while shooting 58.0 percent from the field, per ESPN. Aside from boosting their performance on the offensive end, the potential arrival of Simmons could also help the Trail Blazers improve their defensive efficiency, which currently ranks No. 27 in the league, allowing 111.8 points per 100 possessions, per ESPN.
Although Simmons is believed to have a higher ceiling than McCollum, the proposed deal could also be very beneficial for the Sixers. It would allow them to replace the former No. 1 overall pick with another All-Star-caliber talent who might be a better fit alongside franchise cornerstone Joel Embiid. Giving Embiid a new running mate who is an elite three-point shooter could help the Sixers maximize his full potential on the court.
The Sixers wouldn’t miss Simmons’ playmaking skills. Though he naturally plays the shooting guard position, McCollum is also capable of running the floor and making plays for his teammates. Also, moving out of Lillard’s shadow just might give him the opportunity to further improve his game and speed up his development into legitimate superstardom.