With the 2020 NBA trade deadline fast approaching, the Philadelphia 76ers need to make a decision whether to move on from one of their star young players
When the Philadelphia 76ers landed the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NBA draft, fans rejoiced at the fact that their team would land another superstar player to pair with the already talented Joel Embiid.
After missing his first season due to injury, Simmons took the league by storm averaging 16 points, eight rebounds and eight assists per game en route to winning the Rookie of the Year award in his first official season. The Sixers even made the playoffs for the first time in five years as the third seed in the Eastern Conference, eventually losing to the Boston Celtics in the Conference Semifinals.
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The following season Simmons put up similar numbers and the Sixers retooled the roster adding all-star forward Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris to the team to pair with Simmons and Embiid. However, even with all that talent the Sixers once again came up short and lost in the Conference Semifinals, this time to the eventual NBA champion Toronto Raptors.
This season the team is off to a rocky start, currently sixth in the Eastern Conference and Ben Simmons has not shown any signs of improvement in his game from previous seasons. The Sixers also have one league’s worst offenses ranking 20th in offensive rating, and a large component to that is Ben Simmons and Joel Emibiid not being able to mesh together on the court.
With the Sixers having so much talent in Embiid and Simmons it leads to the question of why hasn’t this team been able to get over the hump and get to the Conference Finals, let alone the NBA finals? With the 2020 NBA trade deadline just around the corner, the Sixers have an opportunity to cash in on one of their star players to hopefully make a run at an NBA championship.
At this current moment, Joel Embiid is the player the Sixers should keep to build around which is why the Sixers need to trade Ben Simmons, lets dive into why.
Bad on-court fit with Embiid
The biggest reason why the Sixers need to explore trades for Ben Simmons is that he and Joel Embiid do not fit well together on offense. As mentioned earlier, the Sixers are 20th in offensive rating this season and a large reason for that is when Embiid and Simmons share the court the team is not producing to their potential.
Embiid, when healthy, is arguably the best big man in basketball and can put up MVP caliber numbers on any given night. The issue with Embiid is that he is an old school player who requires a lot of floor spacing in order to dominate the paint and create shooting opportunities for his teammates. The Sixers do have capable shooters in Tobias Harris, Josh Richardson, and Furkan Korkmaz, however, the issue arises when Embiid shares the court with Simmons.
Just like Embiid, Ben Simmons requires a lot of floor spacing to create driving and passing opportunities for himself, due to him not having a reliable jump shot.
If Ben Simmons played as a forward or as big man his lack of shooting wouldn’t matter as much, however, the issue with Simmons is he plays point guard and needs the ball in his hands to be effective. It is well established that the best way to win in today’s NBA is to have guards who can space the floor and create scoring opportunities for their team.
This season Joel Embiid has missed nine games in the month of January, during that time the Sixers won six games and Ben Simmons was truly able to showcase himself averaging 21 points, nine rebounds and seven assists per game while also shooting 63 percent from the field. All those numbers are an indicator that Ben Simmons plays better without Joel Embiid on the court.
Therefore the issue with the Sixers is clear, when they play Embiid and Simmons together they are at a disadvantage on offense and as good as their defense is the NBA is now a scoring league. This is why the Sixers need to explore trading Simmons because the longer they keep Embiid and Simmons the less likely they will be able to compete for a championship.
Lack of improvement
Another reason why the Sixers should look into trading Ben Simmons is his lack of improvement in his game over the last three seasons. I understand Ben Simmons is a talented young player and still can get better, but the fact is he has not shown any improvement in his game since his rookie season. Especially as a No. 1 overall pick, the expectation for Simmons is to improve his game every season and be a better player than he was the season prior.
One of the biggest flaws in Ben Simmons’ game is his inability to reliably shoot the basketball outside of the painted area. The league has moved into a time where guards need to be able to spread the floor in order to be effective. Although Simmons has been working on his jump shot, the fact is he is not taking any shots in-game which means opposing defenses can sag off him because they know he isn’t going to shoot the ball.
Therefore that element of his game has not improved since his rookie season and by his current track record, it is very unlikely that it ever will.
Another aspect of his game that has not improved is his assertiveness and aggression to take control of games. We have seen over this last nine-game stretch while Embiid has been out how assertive Ben Simmons has been. The issue is Ben does not show this level aggression as consistently as he should, which leads one to believe he is holding back his true potential because he simply does not feel like putting in the effort.
These are just a couple of examples as to why Ben Simmons simply has not put the time into filling the holes in his game. Although Simmons is still a young player and has time to develop, the Sixers do not have the time, because championship windows are only open for so long until they close shut.
Which is why the Sixers should consider moving on from Ben Simmons because it makes more sense to cash in on Simmons for better fitting talent while he has value, rather than wait till he is the same player except older and gets little to nothing in return.
The NBA trade deadline is on February 6th and although it is unlikely the Sixers will trade Simmons, I believe they should at least pick up the phone and gauge the market. Another possible roadblock is the upcoming five-year, $170 million extension that Simmons signed last offseason.
This means that, currently, Ben Simmons is under the poison pill provision which makes it difficult to facilitate a trade until the offseason. It does not hurt the Sixers to pick up the phone to see what other teams are willing to offer, because the clock is ticking for the Sixers to cash in on the amount of talent they have in a wide open Eastern Conference.