Do the Sixers have the next ‘Penny and Shaq’ duo on their hands?


The NBA has seen a number of dynamic and mesmerizing duos throughout its history. A lot of these 1-2 punch combos seem to be composed of a lead guard and a skilled big man. John Stockton and Karl Malone’s pick and rolls were nearly unstoppable. Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul Jabbar joined forces to create one of the deadliest duos ever seen. The no-look passes from Magic to Kareem in the post, which often ended in a killer skyhook, were just incredible. Who can forget a young Shaquille O’Neal running alongside one Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway? The thunderous slams by Shaq that came from lop passes by one of the game’s most interesting point guards were guaranteed to bring the house down every time.

These duos accomplished amazing feats together. In today’s NBA, it doesn’t take long to take a quick scope around the league and realize who the next duo to carry the torch will be. Ben Simmons, a 6’10 point guard from LSU and Joel Embiid, a Cameroonian phenom, will no doubt be the next great guard/big duo.

Ben Simmons has an uncanny feel for the game. He plays with two eyes in the back of his head. Always ready to make the pass, Simmons has already become one of the best playmakers in the league. He can rebound and terrorize a team on the break with his ability to change speeds and finish strong at the rim. There is not a spot on the court that Simmons cannot get to.

His partner in crime, the tantalizing Joel Embiid, has ushered us into a new age of Philadelphia basketball. His footwork in the paint is Olajuwon-esque. He can shoot the ball from the outside as well as face up an opponent and drain the quick middie. Not only is he an offensive juggernaut but he is also one of the best rim protectors in the league.

Despite this being Ben Simmons first year playing in the league, he has already managed to post historic numbers that few players have matched. He’s averaging 16.4 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.4 assists per game and nearly made the NBA All-Star team as a rookie.

Joel Embiid is bouncing back from three injury-riddled years. Posting 23.7 points, 10.9 rebounds and 3.3 assists on the season, Embiid earned himself a starting spot in the All-Star game. This is the first year that these players have played together and they already look like an unstoppable force.

Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid have built plenty of chemistry together this season. Last season the team finished 28-54. This season, the Sixers are already 23-21 with 38 games still left to play in the season. A large part of the team’s turnaround is thanks to the magic that Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid have produced together. They’ve already garnished the attention of some of the biggest names around the league.

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If Simmons drives to the whole, Joel Embiid’s defender can’t come and help. If he does, Simmons will make the defender pay and dish it to Embiid for a slam. They’ve connected on plenty of alley-oops and “and one” plays. The roles are also switched sometimes. The high-low action between the two is quite remarkable to watch. The pair have slowly been rising above other duos in the league.

Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons have already brought a new hope to the Philadelphia 76ers franchise and their fans. They have helped lift the once barren and shunned franchise from the ashes and transformed them into a young and hungry team looking to make some noise in the playoffs. With more experience under their belt, they can become an unbeatable force and take reign over the Eastern Conference.  


Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports