Less than 24 hours after the Ben Simmons disappearing act in Game 7 against the Atlanta Hawks, the talks of the young Sixer being on the way out of Philadelphia had quickly picked up steam. Just as the topic started to fizzle out a few weeks later, the first official offer has been made, and the Sixers now know what the league thinks Simmons is worth.
The Indiana Pacers reportedly offered Malcolm Brogdon and a first-round pick for Ben Simmons, but the offer was declined by Philadelphia as expected. Malcolm Brogdon is a very good player and can be a critical player for a winning team, just as he was in Milwaukee. Brogdon is a force on both ends of the floor, using his size at the guard position to attack the rim, post-up smaller guards, and apply pressure on opposing guards on the defensive end. He also shoots the ball exceptionally well, albeit with a bit of an unorthodox-looking stroke, making it to the elite 50-40-90 club in the 2018-19 season. That was just two seasons after becoming the first, second-round pick to win the Rookie of the Year over Simmons’ running mate Joel Embiid.
At first glance, this looks like a fair swap; Brogdon is a two-way player, just as Simmons is when at his best. Brogdon shoots it better and is more aggressive on offense than Ben, but Ben’s size gives his team options defensively that are simply not possible without him. Simmons’ combination of size, speed, and basketball IQ allows him to cover so much ground while applying pressure to perimeter players regardless of size or skill set. Brogdon has performed well alongside Giannis in big games, whereas Ben seems to disappear when the lights shine the brightest but can also get downhill as quickly and fiercely as anyone in the league, which makes the inclusion of a first round pick mandatory to make this even a deal worth considering. Yet the Sixers declined, and while it is probably because Simmons is an all-star and Brogdon has yet to become one, the fact that this deal was rejected so quickly gives us a look into how Philadelphia feels about their current core.
The Sixers are looking to win now, which could be why despite the inclusion of a first-round pick, the offer did not seem to be enticing enough. If you look at the Sixers’ season, they underachieved and largely in part due to Simmon’s lack of aggression and production, but that is not the only major contributing factor that stood out.
Joel Embiid’s health was also a major concern throughout this postseason due to some knee issues he was dealing with. While he was able to gut it out and play through it all, his conditioning and lack of mobility were undoubtedly an issue. Perhaps the Sixers are not interested in picks or young players with upside because they feel their championship window with Embiid as the main guy is closing. The story of Embiid’s health is one that we know all too well by now. He normally storms out of the gates at the beginning of the season. He dominates only to flame out towards the end after sustaining a few injuries here and there, which hamper his ability to get into the physical conditioning needed to succeed in the postseason.
What they could be looking for then in exchange for Simmons if they indeed want to move him is someone who can help carry some of the load during the regular season and early rounds of the playoffs while supporting Joel when teams start to key in on him in the later rounds. That may not necessarily be another point guard like Brogdon, but someone who can be that clear second option and even an occasional first option for the Sixers.
With this deal falling through, it seems that the asking price for Ben Simmons is going to be steep. However, does it tell us more about Ben’s value? Or does it begin to reveal a weakness in the Sixers’ long-term plans and shed light on an issue that teams with star big men have faced before? Simmons may be on the block, but perhaps Joel Embiid’s status will dictate what deal the Sixers eventually accept.
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