Ben Simmons set the Sixers nation on fire when he sent a cryptic tweet to LeBron James. Speculations and images of LeBron with J.J Redick, Markelle Fultz, Ben Simmons began to flood social media. News of LeBron’s frustration with the Cleveland Cavaliers organization has been publicized and the only team he has been linked to as a potential landing spot that makes sense thus far, is the Lakers. A team that the Sixers have rivaled with in the past, both cities are big markets who have an exciting young roster. It can be argued that Philly is more passionate and loving of their superstars than Los Angeles, a team which depends on its image of the bright lights and Hollywood to set the stage. In Philly, the people set the stage. LeBron would be put on a plateau with some of the greatest people in the city. Not only would he be up there with the likes of Dr. J, Allen Iverson, and Wilt Chamberlain but icons such Patti LaBelle, Rocky, and Will Smith. The question is…what happens IF LeBron does decide to trust the process?
It’s been said that you can’t win with kids in the NBA, especially kids who struggle with injury. Believe that phrase or not, the only thing we know for sure is that the Sixers are on the cusp of laying the foundations of a Dynasty. Take Joel Embiid for example. A serious monster and a force better than his practice tapes advertised, that foreshadowing is now a reality…and it’s only a matter of time before the rest of the Sixers budding young roster join him.
People talk about his injuries and how Embiid’s road to even getting on the court was challenging. But when discussing that incredible rookie year that was cut short, remember all of those numbers, those big plays, those standout moments…he was restricted. Not only that but his Meniscus tear was not serious at all, nor did he reinjure the current injury. Joel Embiid is dominant on both ends of the floor and can shoot from anywhere on the court. Incredibly, he handles it like a guard…something LeBron knows all too well after witnessing the interior finesse up close and personal.
Joel had a historic rookie year to say the least. He put up numbers per 36 that only Kareem, Patrick Ewing, and David Robinson in their prime put up. Only players such as Shaq and the Dream have had these type of numbers in their first year, which should show just how much potential the center has. When you add Robert Covington into the picture, that makes two great defenders and outside threats who are young and ready. LeBron could sit his feet up and rest easy for the playoffs…which is in essence what he’s been craving for a while now.
Since the addition of Kyrie Irving to the roster, the Cavs have been looking for veterans to patch up weaknesses so that when LeBron leaves the floor, his absence doesn’t send the game into turmoil. The emergence of Irving has helped this, but at this stage in his career, James is beginning to sit more games, miss more shifts, and rest up more to ensure he’s raring to go when the postseason rolls around and he can cement his legacy. We come to a key factor in this hypothetical scenario, who stands in when LeBron needs to take some time and let some young legs carry the load?
We plug in Dario Saric. With “Super Dario”, LeBron can get the rest he needs. An all-around forward like Dario will immediately take the pressure off rushing LeBron into situations that can be avoided, and if his rookie season taught us anything, it’s that his shooting efficiency and ability to get boards at both ends of the court cannot be overlooked. Saric averaged 12.8 points per game in his rookie year, hitting just over 40% from inside the paint. The Ceiling is only going to rise as he continues to develop…but there’s one more aspect worth looking at.
Ben Simmons is adamant he’s the team’s point-guard despite his prowess as a forward, while the likes of Fultz and the rest of the F.E.D.S have enough versatility to float in and out and contribute anywhere on the court.
It’s with this that we move to Ben Simmons, the man being mentored by LeBron. What happens if you take a player heralded as the “best talent since LeBron”, and start him with the man himself? It would make Simmons a different kind of monster. The 6’10, 240 lbs, point forward would have so many weapons to pass to, that the idea of averaging 12 assists per game isn’t out of the equation. The Sixers are going to go through some growing pains over the next few years, as a previously ball dominant Ben Simmons adapts to a pass-happy offense, but with such an abundance of weapons to pass to (even without LBJ on the floor), it’s clear to see how the addition of James would only strengthen that image.
If James needs to pound the rock as he has in previous years, he has plenty of options who could set up iso’s or become reliable shooters. Embiid, Simmons, RoCo, Fultz, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Furkan Korkmaz, Richaun Holmes sound exciting enough, but when you factor in a three-point specialist in J.J. Redick, there’s simply too much weaponry for Defenses to handle. There’s enough variety in styles and size to ensure the Sixers are flooded with options regardless of who they face. If they can get a Drill Sergeant to rally the troops together, then the future is a scary place to look. But there’s one more piece of the puzzle.
We bring ourselves to this year’s no.1 pick and that is Markelle Fultz. He would replace what LeBron had with D-wade and Kyrie Irving and give to Simmons what LeBron had with the mentioned two but only sent to the next level. The way Fultz makes difficult shots look easy is an x-factor because once again, the Sixers have a guy who can take the pressure off everybody and score at will. Fultz displayed the ability at college to take over games and if he can do that at the NBA level, then that’s all the Sixers could ask for. He would be too much to handle knowing you have to guard Simmons, Embiid, and LeBron or even Saric. Redick gives LeBron what he would lose with J.R. Smith or Kyle Korver a sniper, the Sixers check off everything LeBron wants:
Ball handlers: Check
Players to lift the load: check
More rest: Check
Room to bring on players he likes: check
Big market city: check
Elite young players: double check
Philly not only has the money to make all this happen, but to add on more depth with a good draft pick or by finally shifting Jahlil Okafor in a trade that adds someone such as Eric Bledsoe for the depth LeBron craves. Whether LeBron chooses Philly is one thing, but whether Philly is perfect for LeBron is certified no question. LeBron can not only put his great business mind together with the Colangelo’s and have his family in a big market city and state, but also develop Bryce and LBJ Jr.
Philadelphia is a basketball town that would embrace them as they play and evolve in city. The area has some of the best basketball high schools in the nation. Endless successful conclusions can come from this, but the one ultimate conclusion is championships with a capital “S”. As someone who is looking to cement his own legacy, LeBron needs help…and what better City than a team with the grittiest mentality of all? If you want to take down a dynasty, you have to fight fire with fire..and LeBron is the perfect player to turn the pieces of the Sixers into a franchise puzzle.
When he eventually left Philly, he would be appreciated by the city in whatever way he left, whether it be retirement or going to another team. Philly would appreciate his contribution not only because of the rings he would bring, but because he would mentor the cities stars into a position where they can add many more to the tally. He would be leaving a super team that would still be a super team. Ladies and gentlemen, this is a match made in Philadelphia and basketball heaven. The first city to ever win an NBA championship would be back in the basketball kingdom.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports