A Letter to Ben Simmons: Congrats, this is your team
It would not be Philadelphia sports if a select few of the fan base did not decide to wake up and choose unnecessary, out of pocket slander the morning before the team’s first preseason matchup. No one can deny the 76ers have endured disappointing finales to their last two NBA campaigns, and I do not need to justify that.
On top of that, I do not need to dive any further on how the 76ers finally addressed their issue at the top of the organization with a revamped front office and coaching staff. For the first time in a while, the young 76ers all-star duo is healthy and locked in. The team appears motivated by a new set of voices in the locker room and the front office, after what seemingly felt like an eternity, has decided to build-around their All-NBA point guard and center. A team full of shooters and experienced veterans along with young, hungry wings surrounds Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, and there are a plethora of things to be excited about for this upcoming season. However, as I foreshadowed with the opening line, that is not enough for the select few who are never satisfied.
I came across an article this morning that did not sit right with me. Moments after Ben Simmons tweeted out his game-day emoji as the 76ers prepare to take on Boston in their first preseason matchup, I spent five minutes, that I wish I could have back, trying to digest and understand an article that essentially blamed Ben Simmons and his total unwillingness to adjust his game for the reason behind the 76ers inability to get over the hump and for his name being swirled around by everyone, but Daryl Morey himself, in James Harden trade rumors. It was Ben Simmons’ fault that the 76ers had the unluckiest bounce in NBA history two seasons ago, one of the least complimentary lineups of all-time, and a head coach that did not get any calls after his overdue termination.
To redirect a quote to the author of this article to himself, “The fact that this trade talk is even a topic, points directly back to you. This is your doing.” If you want to know more about what the article said, I’m sure it will not be hard to locate it with its albatross of a ratio, but that was not the point of this article, to slam dunk that article for a thousand words.
Instead, I want to treat this as a thank you to Ben Simmons. At 24, he is a DPOY of the year candidate, an All-NBA point guard, and a multiple time all-star who was told his inability to shoot and create for himself meant he would not thrive at the position. How many NBA teams currently have a player at his age with this resume? That’s right, zero.
Somehow that is still not enough for a minority of fans. The fascination of the three-point show has taken over the NBA and if you cannot shoot it with consistency and accuracy, casual fans denote you a bad player. Simmons led the NBA in assisted three-pointers last season. Adding that to two newly acquired career 40% three-point shooters’ arsenal will provide astronomically more value than Simmons taking an extra bad shot a game. A walking triple-double that plays some of the best defense in the NBA at the guard position and makes his teammates better does not grow on trees, and a few 76ers fans have taken his impact on the team for granted. The Celtics series should be enough to prove how much his absence hurts this team.
Would Ben Simmons be a better player if he could knock down open jump shots and threes? Hundred percent he would be, and I know he and everyone in the 76ers organization know that. If Ben Simmons is open and has a good shot, he should take it. However, the newly assembled front office and coaching staff are smart basketball people. They and Simmons know what he thrives at and how he is confident in playing the game of basketball. Doc Rivers and Daryl Morey have stated nothing but praise for Simmons since they joined the organization. Morey denied Simmons was available in any trades and Rivers vouched that Simmons would be given the keys to the team.
Before the flood gates open and these hot-takes rush out about how Ben Simmons is the worst thing to happen to Philadelphia since the Colangelo’s, let the season play out. Let’s see how this new group and staff meshes. Jumping the gun, to garner attention and stir the pot, makes absolute zero sense considering the organizational overhaul since the bubble play concluded.
With that being said, thank you, Ben. Thank you for playing through and sticking with all the adversity this organization has gone through since your draft day. Thank you for working hard and giving 100% on both ends of the floor every time you take the court. Thank you for agreeing to see a sports psychologist to instill more confidence in your abilities. Thank you for trusting the process. Good luck this season, and I look forward to seeing you add to your already impressive resume.
Mandatory Credit: AP