A career in the NBA is especially tough in today’s “what have you done for me lately” culture, as oftentimes a player’s value can be reduced to as small of a sample size as one or two instances in a crucial game. This might be the case for Ben Simmons as less than 48 hours removed from elimination to the Atlanta Hawks, media, and fans in Philadelphia and beyond have made Ben Simmons trade scenarios a trending topic on social media.
This is, of course, coupled with talk about how no team would want him, and the market on Simmons is very soft right now, with some suggesting that Ben might even be out of the NBA due to his terrible performance in Game 7. However, while everybody zigs, one person zags and apparently would be interested in Ben Simmons if the opportunity came along. Former San Antonio Spurs forward Bruce Bown said that much on ESPN Radio not too long ago.
“I know Pop very well and I assure you they would trade anyone on the Spurs roster for Ben Simmons”Bruce Bowen, ESPN Radio San Antonio AM 1250
It would be easy (and rather interesting) for the NBA world to jump to conclusions about whether these are Gregg Popovich’s true sentiments and that Bowen was there to relay the message for everyone to notice. Still, the truth is that this should come as no surprise to anyone who has been watching the Spurs since the departure of Kawhi Leonard. San Antonio has a solid veteran star in Demar DeRozan and some exciting young talent in the likes of Dejounte Murray and Derrick White. However, despite their great start this year, the team still does not seem to have a definite way forward on the road to another NBA championship, a place where the Spurs are used to being in yearly.
With the buyout of LaMarcus Aldridge last year, it became apparent that the Spurs may be looking to start over and move away from the duo of DeRozan and Aldridge as their core; they just haven’t managed to find the right deal to make or have a bad enough record to land them a top pick in the draft. The Spurs would also likely be in search of a young star, one who can grow within the Popovich system and be that young leader that they thought Kawhi would eventually become for them. For all the negative press Ben Simmons is receiving now, he just might be that guy, and San Antonio might be the perfect place for him as he moves into the prime of his career.
First of all, Ben is great at the three things that have been the hallmark of Popovich’s teams: Defense, Rebounding, and Unselfishness. He is still a relatively raw talent, leaving the door open for the Spurs culture to mold Ben just like it did Kawhi Leonard, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker. Lastly, Ben needs a team built around him to succeed because of his unique skill set. As he continues to improve on his weaknesses, it is extremely crucial that he shines for his strengths, and if there is one place where that can happen, it’s with the San Antonio Spurs.
To remind you, the two-time Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard couldn’t shoot, and that was one of the main reasons he fell so much in the draft. If anyone can help a player with their shot, it’s the Spurs longtime shot guru Chip Engelland. When you have an expert like that on your staff, someone’s shooting problems aren’t an issue for you as much it would be for other teams.
For the Spurs, it gives them a chance to work with a top-5 pick in the draft without actually having to lose enough games to get favorable lottery odds. The last time San Antonio picked in the top five was in the 1997 draft when they selected Hall of Famer Tim Duncan with the number one overall pick. Simmons is also 24 years old, just two years older than Duncan when the franchise drafted him. That means that Ben could potentially grow and improve with the team and potentially be their superstar for the long haul.
For the Sixers, it means that they could secure some pieces that would fit what they need to do to win now, giving Joel Embiid a reason to commit to the franchise long term. DeMar DeRozan is not a knockdown shooter from deep but has the touch and scoring ability to be the threat that takes away pressure from Embiid and Harris; throw in a shooter like Patty Mills and both teams may very well have themselves a deal.
Of course, you do not want to give up on that young core in Philadelphia so early, but it seems as if the fan base and perhaps even some of Ben’s teammates are ready for him to move on. In Ben’s case, this might be what is best for him, and with an organization like the Spurs behind him, he might even have the last laugh and win a ring before the Sixers do.
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