(Photo via ESPN)
It’s getting harder and harder for Philadelphia 76ers fans to trust the process as the years go on, and the playoff eliminations pile up. At least this time, Joel Embiid played like the superstar he is, but there is one guy who is receiving endless flack (and rightfully so).
That guy is Ben Simmons, and it’s no surprise everyone in Philadelphia currently wants his head on a platter after another disappointing playoff performance.
When you look at his basic stats from this postseason, they’re okay. But then you see his free throw percentage and gag (it was the worst in playoff history).
So then maybe you want to give him another chance and keep scrolling, but then you see that he only took three shots in the fourth quarter...over the span of the entire series against Atlanta.
If those two stats aren’t alarming enough, maybe you tune into the games to give him the benefit of the doubt, and then you see him make some nice passes and have good defensive possessions and think everyone is overreacting.
But then you see him pass up an easy finish over Trae Young in the fourth quarter of a tight game seven, for no reason, while the TNT scoreboard rolls out a graphic saying he is shooting 2/16 in his biggest game since you know what.
Matisse Thybulle, who received the pass, was fouled and went on to split his free throws. It was that moment when the bow was wrapped over their season.
All in all, this has become a serious problem, and it’s about time they look into breaking up the once-promising duo of Embiid and Simmons. But how do they go about this? And should they?
The tough pill to swallow
It seems as if the answers to the questions regarding the ability of this duo to go deep together are finally here. And it really doesn’t look like it’s a feasible thing to foresee anymore.
The team went and solved all its apparent issues in the off-season under new General Manager Daryl Morey. They got rid of Al Horford’s contract, they added a sharpshooter in Seth Curry, they got a reliable two-way guard in Danny Green, and they even parted ways with Brett Brown in favour of Doc Rivers.
And yet they still failed.
The team had completely different rosters surrounding the duo each of the last four years since they became a contender that had some significant differences in playstyle.
And yet all of them failed.
The one constant that never got shaken up was the Embiid and Simmons duo, and while Embiid shook off the rust and showed the world he could shine under the bright lights, Simmons never seemed to follow suit.
The reality is that Simmons doesn’t have what it takes to flourish under this roster. His playstyle doesn’t bode well in a halfcourt setting without a jump shot (which is how the game is mostly played in the postseason), and Embiid’s dominant post-game almost renders Simmons useless around the key unless Embiid draws a double team, since that’s his space every possession.
So ultimately, it’s time for Philadelphia to find a point guard that can shoot and function cohesively in a halfcourt setting. Despite Simmons’ hefty contract, he still has a solid chunk of value even if it’s gone down after this postseason.
What this means for Philadelphia
The Sixers are going to have to make a tough decision this off-season, and as already mentioned, they should look into moving Simmons for pieces that fit the team.
While his contract is certainly underwhelming right now, people still need to consider the fact that he’s only 24 years old and is a very talented player. So while moving him might not be the easiest task, it shouldn’t be as difficult as some may believe.
If Philadelphia can find their guy at the point guard position, and learn their lesson from the trade deadline, then they’ll be able to move on comfortably from Simmons (it could even come directly from a Simmons trade).
The team is still going to be good without Simmons as long as Embiid is the main piece, though they can actually come through when it matters most.
All in all, the team needs a shake-up, and this time it’s clear who the odd man out is.
What this means for Simmons
Despite all this, there is no need to close the book on Simmons as a player overall. He’s still an ultra-athletic player with great size and fantastic defensive abilities. Also, his playmaking can be elite and he can make remarkable passes.
However, the passing can also be his downfall, in the sense that it can get a bit excessive. The fact that he still hasn’t developed a reliable jumper after several years in the NBA is a problem, and it will only lead to his confidence being further diminished in important scenarios.
If he can find a role on a team that could turn him into a star passing big with insane transition abilities, it would do wonders for his career.
Unfortunately, his time as a point guard should come to an end. He doesn’t have what it takes to be a championship point guard with his limited scoring skillset until he develops a reliable jump shot.
A fresh start is needed for both parties, but the honest verdict is that Simmons doesn’t fit here anymore. Anyone who says otherwise is thinking too wishfully.
At the end of the day, if Philadelphia can find a guy who can take more than three fourth-quarter shots in a seven-game series, that would be great