It’s Time for the Sixers to Trade Ben Simmons
You might remember earlier this season when the Philadelphia 76ers had the chance to trade Ben Simmons for James Harden. They didn’t pull the trigger, but they absolutely should have. The 76ers just dropped yet another playoff series as a top-3 seed in the Eastern Conference. The Embiid-Simmons tandem has never qualified for an Eastern Conference Finals. In my 2020-21 76ers Preview, here’s what I wrote:
Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid have been together for three seasons now. Lauded as one of the best duos in the NBA, they have yet to actually produce anything. They haven’t even made an Eastern Conference Finals appearance. Assuming Daryl Morey is being truthful about keeping Simmons around, this has to be the final year of testing the waters with this duo. There are no more excuses. Simmons has enough shooters around him to offset his lack of perimeter ability. When healthy, Embiid is a top-2 center in the NBA. The Philadelphia 76ers have a great GM and a winning head coach. It’s championship or bust.Karl Heiser, Philadelphia 76ers 2020-2021 Season Preview: Championship or Bust?
Another year has passed, and Simmons has failed Philadelphia yet again. It’s time to blow it up. It’s time to trade Ben Simmons.
Ben Simmons Has Had His Chance
This was the best possible chance for the 76ers to win with Simmons on the roster. The shooters he needed? Seth Curry shot 45% from distance and stepped up his game in the playoffs. Tobias Harris shot 39.4% from three, Danny Green shot 40.5%, and Furkan Korkmaz posted a 37.5% mark. The excuse for the last three years was that “Ben Simmons doesn’t have any shooters around him.” Well it looks like that wasn’t really the problem, now was it?
Not only were the shooters there, Embiid played the best season of his career. He finished second in MVP voting and scored 28.5 points per game. He wasn’t the problem either. Ben Simmons had everything going for him and he still couldn’t deliver.
Ben Simmons Tricked All of You
It’s beyond me how everyone still thought Ben Simmons was a valuable, borderline superstar-level player. He hasn’t progressed offensively since his rookie season in any way. He can’t shoot, and still somehow had an army of keyboard warriors shouting, “BUT WAIT UNTIL HE CAN” into the void. They’ve been saying that for years now. The jumper isn’t coming. It never was.
The truth about Ben Simmons was there the whole time, but everyone refused to see it. Here’s a tip for everyone who wants to learn how to evaluate a basketball player: IF A GUARD CANNOT SHOOT, HE IS NOT GOOD. Simmons has never been able to shoot, but somehow no one realized this until he went 4-14 from the free throw line during an epic fourth quarter collapse in Game 5 against the Hawks. He scored just five points in Game 7, and was frequently subbed out throughout the series for being such a liability.
Simmons might be the greatest charlatan in NBA history. He has received endless popularity and support but has absolutely nothing to show for it. Year in and year out, no one’s evaluation of Simmons has changed from when he was drafted with the first overall pick. “Just wait until he gets a reliable jumper.” Yeah, we’re still waiting.
“But he’s a really good defender!” First of all, the value accrued from having a guard that can shoot and not defend is much greater than that accrued from a guard that can defend and not shoot. Secondly, his stellar defense didn’t stop Trae Young from dropping 30 points a night. Thirdly, you know who else can play defense but can’t shoot? Andre Roberson. Are we sure this is the path we want to go down to defend this guy?
The 76ers Could Have James Harden Right Now
If you’ve read The Inside Game by Keith Law, you’ll know that the 76ers fell victim to status quo bias. This is a cognitive bias where someone irrationally sticks with what they already have just to avoid change, even if what they have is less than optimal. In essence, the Philadelphia 76ers overvalued what they already had. There is no situation in which James Harden is a worse option than Ben Simmons. It’s laughable that the 76ers didn’t immediately jump all over this because they were determined to keep this dude. JAMES HARDEN! ARE YOU KIDDING ME? And then, right on cue, all the Sixers fans gaslighted themselves into thinking this was a good call. I promise you no other fanbase gives Simmons the benefit of the doubt as much as Philly has these past four years.
Is there any other All-Star you can put on the court and have serious questions about whether or not he is helping his team offensively? Isn’t it crazy that those questions are legitimate? These same questions definitely wouldn’t persist with James Harden, I can tell you that much.
At this point, it seems the cloud is quickly being removed from everyone’s judgment regarding Ben Simmons. The best course would be for the 76ers to trade him while they still can get decent value for him. With Tyrese Maxey in the fold, I wouldn’t even worry about replacing him at the top of the key. Just take the best offer of picks and players that some team decides to fork over. Unfortunately, the big problem will be finding a team that wants a max contract player who can’t even be a reliable second option.
This has to be the end of the Ben Simmons Experiment. The Sixers provided optimal conditions for winning with him if it was ever going to happen. Enough is enough.
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