By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)
As I’ve discussed in each of my free agency wish list entries, shooting is at a premium for the Sixers this upcoming offseason. Whether it’s guys to spot up off a Ben Simmons drive or a Joel Embiid post-up, Philadelphia should look to surround the rest of the floor with as much spacing as possible.
At this stage of his career, Brandon Rush is little more than a three-point shooting specialist. The 31-year-old journeyman has taken more than 60% of his field goal attempts from behind the arc each of the last two seasons. And why not? Rush knocked down those triples at better than a 38% clip both years, and still features an excellent mark of 40.2% from three for his career.
The fact that Rush does less and less driving himself now, and has never been much of a playmaker, is mitigated by the current state of the Sixers roster. The team wouldn’t need him to perform those functions when they want the ball in the hands of their young up-and-coming stars as much as possible. Rush would just need to keep help defense from drifting too close to Simmons, Embiid, etc., and if the team needs a three, Brett Brown can occasionally call his number.
Defensively, Rush has good size for a wing, standing 6’6″ with a 6’11” wingspan. However, Father Time and the reality that he has torn the ACL in both knees over the course of his basketball playing career have reduced his effectiveness on that end. Rush offers versatility to defend multiple positions, but his advanced metrics have never really backed up the “-and-D” portion of 3-and-D. His defensive rating has been consistently below average throughout his career, while his defensive box plus-minus has been about neutral.
Rush signed with Minnesota last offseason, meaning he’s willing to hear offers aside from simple ring-chasing opportunities. Having received only a 1 year, $3.5M deal with the Timberwolves, he could be a bargain at around that price for the Sixers. He certainly has those intangible veteran qualities Bryan Colangelo is seeking. Rush was a rotation player on the two Warriors teams that went back-to-back to the NBA finals. Plus, he would give Joel Embiid another guy to talk Kansas Jayhawks basketball in the locker room.
You could certainly make the argument that the Sixers would be better off using their limited open roster spots on higher upside players. Yet, if Colangelo is once again determined to supplement the roster with veteran presences, Rush would be an affordable option who would benefit the development of the young building blocks on the court. If the signing were to happen this summer, I’d rush to announce my approval.