Ben Simmons' name is being thrown around James Harden trade talks. At this point, it's clear, if Daryl Morey is to acquire the Houston Rockets' superstar, the Sixers' star point guard will have to be included in the deal.
But what if he's to stay? What if Philadelphia decides to run a Simmons-Embiid experiment for one more year? If that's the route they decide to re-embark on, Simmons becoming more of a scorer is the precondition for the duo to maximize their potential together.
If I'm Philly, I'm gonna be pushing Ben to at least try to average 30 this year. If he's trying to average 30, that means he's aggressive. When he's aggressive, his playmaking is a lot better, and it takes a lot of pressure off Embiid to be great every game.
Gilbert Arenas, Fubo Sports
This is what separates Ricky Rubios of the world from your elite all-around contributors. The lack of aggressiveness is a stumbling block for a naturally gifted playmaker. Too many players fall into the trap of cocooning themselves into a "trying to make everyone else better" mentality. But here's the thing; the ability to make plays for others is fettered by the disability to make plays for yourself. Being a constant threat to score the basketball is the prerequisite to get others involved.
Ben Simmons is far from being a constant threat on an offensive end. Guys get away with sagging off him all the way to the free-throw, running something between zone and man-to-man defensive schemes that disregard his ability to put the ball in the basket. It not only puts a cap on him getting others involved, but it also makes it harder for the Sixers' coach to implement any sort of creativity into the team's offensive approach. So instead of being a huge plus for Philadelphia, Simmons becomes a liability. Unless Embiid is out and Ben becomes a focal point of the Sixers offense. That's when he delivers performances like this one.
Notice something about Simmons' outing against the Nets. He displayed an unprecedented aggressiveness, which allowed him to cover up for lack of a jump shot and utilize his God-given ability to make plays for others. That's what happens when he's zoned in on putting the ball in the basket. It allows him to maximize his potential as an-all around threat instead of being the one-dimensional underperformer under the guise of unselfishness.
For the Sixers, the challenge is to implement the system that'll allow him to do the same with Joel Embiid on the floor. That's when having a championship pedigree coach like Doc Rivers comes to play. The mitigating circumstance is that Morey did a great job of laying the foundations for Doc to allow his two superstars to co-exist. He acquired guys like Danny Green and Seth Curry, making the Sixers roster the most three-point oriented it's been in a while.
If you close the lane, you have those guys that's gonna spot up and shoot. With those guys on the floor, everything is wide open. Now you can use your athletic 6-11 frame to "Greek Freek" it, and then with your vision and your IQ, everyone else gets those easy open shots. The more they shoot, the easier it is to get to the basket.
Gilbert Arenas, Fubo Sports
This is the landscape for Ben Simmons to thrive. It's on Doc to come up with a perfect inside-outside dynamic that will allow him to take that next step without it being at the expense of Embiid. If he's to find a secret formula to maximize the potential of the Sixers' two-headed monster, they'd be launched into the sphere of title contention. But the first step towards it is for Ben to become more aggressive.
He obviously won't miraculously turn into a jump shooter, so the best thing he can do is shift his mentality into becoming more of a scorer. The rest of the NBA can only hope that won't be the case.