Be Careful What You Wish For: Why moving Ben Simmons could lead to a painful year for 76ers basketball
The Philadelphia 76ers are in the midst of a very important offseason. After embarrassing themselves in the second round of the NBA playoffs against the Atlanta Hawks, everything came crashing down around them. No need to provide any additional context in terms of what happened, I’m sure anyone reading this is very aware of how bad it was after the Hawks series, even more so when speaking about Ben Simmons.
It’s the middle of August, and as we all know, Ben Simmons is the topic of conversation around the NBA. We’ll get into all of that and inevitably my reasoning for why Ben Simmons will be in a 76ers uniform next year, but first, here’s a quick bulleted list of all the headlines that Simmons has been making over the past few months.
- Responding to Instagram comments.
- Joking about “pool time” on video at the gym while the media mocks him.
- Rumors of a damaged relationship with Doc Rivers that’s beyond repair.
- Rumors that he will hold out of training camp if not traded.
- Ben Simmons hasn’t spoken to Doc Rivers, Daryl Morey, Joel Embiid since the end of the season.
- Videos of him shooting three pointers with Rajon Rondo.
- Trade Rumors with Minnesota, Golden State, Sacramento and San Antonio.
- 76ers holding out for a Damian Lillard, Ben Simmons trade.
- Simmons rumors saying he expects to be traded.
And of course, the always excruciating videos from Simmons’ shooting coach Chris Johnson tweeting ridiculous tweets like this:
The introverted man that is Ben Simmons has been and always will be one of the most polarizing players ever to play in Philadelphia. He was a number one overall pick and deemed the next heir to the throne. He had video cameras from Showtime following him all over LSU’s campus as he ripped the NCAA. From blatant unwillingness to shoot the basketball in game situations, to what seemed to be a rock bottom, mental collapse against the Atlanta Hawks in the second round of the playoffs, Simmons raw talent and potential leaves a lot to be desired.
At the same time, Joel Embiid just inked a super max extension with the Philadelphia 76ers. He was quoted today saying the following:
“I’ve always had this one dream – to play for one city. Philly and me – I’ve always thought that we’re a perfect match. They care, they’re passionate. I love them, and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”
Embiid has become the most well-liked Philadelphia athlete in recent memory. His extroverted personality, the way he interacts with fans that see him out and about in Philadelphia and while he’s on the court at the Wells Fargo Center, and his social media outbursts against any opponent who pushes the wrong buttons has Philadelphia hanging on everything he does by the minute. Ben Simmons, on the other hand, is the complete opposite.
Simmons plays hard on the court. He practically plays the entire game. His defense is incredible. The way he can move up and down the court at high speeds with his size is something that memorizes anyone who is lucky enough to witness it. His unwillingness to shoot and the perception that he does not want to get better is unfortunately something that cannot be looked over by 76ers fans, even with a resume that includes the following:
- 2018 Rookie of the Year
- 2018 All-Rookie 1st Team
- 2019 All-Star
- 2020 Steals Leader
- 2020 All-Defensive 3rd Team
- 2020 All-NBA 3rd Team
- 2020 All-Star
- 2021 All-Star
- 2021 All-Defensive 1st Team
As we all know the Sixers were the first seed in the East when the season ended earlier this summer. Their starting lineup was one of the best there was in the regular season. Daryl Morey himself recently acknowledged this on Twitter.
All of the above has brought us here. Damian Lillard hasn’t requested a trade from the Portland Trailblazers. There has been little to no credible reports about all of the Ben Simmons rumors listed above, and all things considered, the 76ers don’t seem satisfied in getting rid of Ben Simmons for anything but a superstar in return. As each day goes by during the NBA offseason, finding a partner to dance with that is willing to trade an elite player for Simmons continues to fade further and further away into the abyss.
Throughout all of the rumors and reports, I still believe whole heartedly in one thing: The 76ers are a better team with Ben Simmons on the roster than without him.
Consider the following possibilities next season:
- Seth Curry returns to normal after a tremendous playoffs last year.
- Matisse Thybulle doesn’t develop enough on offense to be considered a starter.
- Tobias Harris does…..what Tobias Harris does.
- Jaden Springer needs a few years to be NBA ready.
- Tyrese Maxey’s sophomore campaign is not enough to lift the 76ers to the next level.
If that happens, and Ben Simmons is moved just for the sake of moving him and not for an elite level player (Damian Lillard), it becomes almost impossible to say that the 76ers will be a better team than they were with Ben Simmons on the court. Everyone was mad at Simmons after the Hawks series and rightfully so. However now that the smoke has cleared, is moving Ben Simmons the best option for the 76ers?
The answer is, and always has been, no.
What remains uncertain, however, is if Ben Simmons is willing to improve his game and accept coming back to a city that lost hope just a few months ago.
Mandatory Credit: Mitchell Leff | Getty Images