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Would a Ben Simmons for Jaylen Brown trade work?

Simmons for Jaylen Brown

After simmering along for a period, the Ben Simmons Trade drama momentarily heated up after reports from The Athletic’s Shams Charania of discussions between Simmons Philadelphia 76ers and their hated rivals the Boston Celtics. It was widely assumed that these latest talks centred around a Simmons for Jaylen Brown deal.

This writer has previously looked at some potential trade options for the Sixers, should they finally deal the enigmatic Aussie, but the Celtics were not at all on the radar.

Let’s be real, here. The recently turned 25 year old Brown, taken two picks after Simmons in the 2016 NBA draft, had started the season in career best form prior to going down with a leg injury. Simmons, on the other hand, just hasn’t played – unless you count the way he appears to be attempting to play the 76ers front office. A straight up trade of Simmons for Brown is surely, from a Boston perspective at least, off the table.

Before we delve into what pieces the Sixers would have to throw in to make the Celtics even consider this type of trade, let’s examine what the centrepieces of the rumoured swap would give to their new employers.

Brown would make all caps PERFECT sense for the Sixers. Defensively, he’s not quite the all-round disruptor that Simmons is – he certainly doesn’t possess Simmons versatility – but he’s not too far off. He might even be the equal of the Australian as an on ball wing defender. Off the ball he can become inattentive, but with Joel Embiid behind him that shouldn’t be a major concern.

Offensively, he provides Philly with a legitimate go-to perimeter scoring option to compliment Embiid. A career 37.9% shooter from deep, Brown has upped his success rate to 39.7% this season on – and this is most important – 7.3 three point attempts.

He’s not nearly the playmaker that Simmons is, especially in the open court, where Simmons remains one of the best on the planet. But in the heat of the playoffs, when the game becomes a half court slog, having a player that is willing to take, let alone make, shots at the end of the shot clock becomes incredibly important. Much more than Simmons ever will be, Jaylen Brown is that man.

From a Boston perspective, Simmons doesn’t make quite as much sense, though the former #1 pick would provide some very real benefits that Brown does not.

Can you imagine Simmons and Marcus Smart flying around the court on defense? It would be a Tom Thibodeau wet dream. Both players are extremely switchable which, combined with Robert Williams emerging defensive versatility, would make the C’s defense far more mismatch proof.

Simmons would also inject the Celtics with some much needed playmaking. With the exception of 35 year old big man Al Horford, the Celtics don’t possess a natural creator on the roster. Neither Brown nor Jayson Tatum are inclined to create shots for others. Neither of their point guards in Smart or Dennis Schroder are noted distributors. That lack of ball movement is a cause for consternation both from analysts and internally. After a terrible collapse against the Bulls recently, Smart said about his team’s late game offense “They (Brown and Tatum) don’t want to pass the ball and that’s something that they’re going to have to learn”.

Acquiring Simmons would surely lead to spacing issues in Boston, especially when paired with Smart. But the Sixers big men hold skill sets that should be complimentary to Simmons. Williams is a pure rim runner. That is something that Embiid, for all of his otherworldly talents, does not do. He could form a delightful partnership with Simmons.

In his dotage, Horford has become a floor spacer on offense, hitting between 35% and 43% of his threes (though he’s noticeably cold to start this campaign) over the previous five seasons. It’s also worth noting that some of Simmons best basketball came when Horford played alongside him in Philadelphia, with Embiid sidelined. The two of them made magic pinging the ball around without Embiid slowing things down. Horford-at-centre line-ups could give Simmons the spacing that he craves.

Let’s backtrack a little – earlier it was mentioned that a straight Brown for Simmons trade would be a non-starter for the Celtics. What else would Philly have to throw in to get this trade off the ground?

It’s unlikely that Boston would want draft capital, given that their prodigious haul of picks in the back half of the last decade proved a mixed bag. Surely they would want a shooter to help offset the lack of range that their current point guards hold. Boston would have to ask for Seth Curry, but would probably have to settle for either Shake Milton or perhaps Furkan Korkmaz.

Perhaps they would also have an interest in underrated 2nd year man big man Paul Reed, who could learn at the feet of Horford for a season or two. The De Paul product shares some similarities to a young Horford in both size and style and could perhaps be a successor to the veteran.

For the 2nd consecutive year, the Celtics are struggling mightily in relation to expectations, whilst the Sixers need to….well, let’s leave it to a man that knows how to run a business:

Philadelphia 76ers owner and GM in discussions regarding Simmons.

Ultimately, given the scuttlebutt surrounding Simmons status and the standing that Brown has within the Celtics organisation, a lot of ground would need to be covered for a trade like this to happen. But given Bostons’s struggles and the unpredictability of a new front office (let alone the unpredictability of Sixers decision maker Daryl Morey, it’s not entirely off the cards.

This article also appears at leading independent media site FOOTYOLOGY.

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