The 76ers lost 6 out of their last 10 games, and are in 6th place in the East. It’s not just the fact that the team most people saw in the Finals is last in the contender group, but the way they are playing raises concerns. Their additions such as Al Horford are not fitting in, and it seems not a lot has changed since last year. Embiid is still a health risk, his conditioning doesn’t seem dramatically improved and Ben Simmons still doesn’t shoot from the perimeter – he attempted 5 three-pointers in 36 games.
We’re not even at the half-way point of the regular season, so there is still time to catch a groove and be prepared for the playoffs, but the fact this seems like all the same problems we saw last year means it’s time for the big question in Philly. When do you decide that Simmons and Embiid can’t win a title together? A lot of people seem to think we’re past that point already.
“We gotta start falling in love with Ben Simmons for who he is, ’cause he ain’t changing.”Jalen Rose
Jaylen continued to point out this is Simmons’ third season and expecting that he will suddenly start draining threes when he didn’t even attempt to shoot in the previous season is naive. If we accept that Simmons is who he is, then the data that tells us he and Embiid are not a good fit won’t change. It is highly unlikely to win an NBA title with your top 2 players both working in the paint. The Sixers are trying to give Simmons room to attack the basket but pulling a 250 pound 7 footer behind the arc. There’s creative, and then there’s just crazy. If you make your peace with this fact, who do you trade?
“Ben Simmons’ game is incomplete and the 76ers won’t win a title with him.”Seth Greenberg
Coach Greenberg made it clear until he can shoot the ball Simmons can’t lead a team to the Larry O’ Brien trophy. One of the things the Raptors demonstrated last year is the value of having 5 guys on the court that have all the fundamentals. It is equally important to have players without an obvious weakness in the dribble-pass-shoot trinity, as it is to have players with tremendous talent in one or more of the three. If you pay that player the max and plan to build around him, he has to have all the fundamentals.
You usually lose while trading a max player, but the Sixers are in a position to get close to fair value. We know that Simmons is best when the entire team is built around his strengths and weaknesses – something the 76ers are not. It’s the exact opposite of Draymond Green’s trade value. Draymond is worth more to the Warriors than any other team because he fits perfectly with Steph and Klay. He is a less effective player on any other team. Simmons, on the other hand, is more effective on any team that would trade for him and builds their identity around his game. Surround him with shooters and play an up-tempo style, you’ve got a winner.
Simmons is under contract until ’24/’25, Embiid until ’23/’24 – the Sixers have time to give this a chance. But, more years a player is under contract when you trade him, more value he has. Decision time might come sooner than we think.