If you look left, right, up, or down you will see mention of the Sixers splitting up Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. The latest trade scenario comes from Bleacher Report writer Andrew Bailey. The trade, in short, is Simmons for CJ McCollum, Anfernee Simons, and the Blazers’ 2021 first round pick.
Bailey lays out the case for separating Simmons and Embiid and does a good job questioning their fit while also pointing out the roster around them isn’t helping the cause. All points that are valid and lead one to the fact that change must come for the Sixers’ roster.
While again Bailey’s case is solid, my opinion differs in two regards: First, the idea of moving on from either Simmons or Embiid is premature. Second his value for Simmons is either too low, or like Portland, his value for Anfernee Simons is too high.
Keep the Process Alive
Right now it’s very popular opinion that Embiid and Simmons cannot coexist and that it’s in the Sixers’ best interest to trade one. The problem is that the Sixers haven’t brought in the right complimentary players for their stars. They were close during the 2017-18 season with Marco Belinelli, and Ersan Ilyasova. Both were knock down shooters for the team and opened up the floor for Simmons and Embiid to thrive. The fit along with JJ Redick was seamless but it obviously was not meant to last. Belinelli and Ilyasova would leave in free agency after the season as did Redick the following year.
The Sixers now boast poor fits like Al Hoford and Josh Richardson (though I love him). If the team wants to succeed, they need to return to the roster concept that allowed them to win from 2017-18. It all starts with one simple thing, shooting.
The Sixers do have some exciting shooters like Tobias Harris, Shake Milton, Furkan Korkmaz,
Raul Neto, but they need more than shooters, they need snipers. If the team were to add these elite shooters, they could find themselves back in the contender conversation. Additions like Joe Harris or Buddy Hield, maybe even a JJ Redick reunion, these are the types of moves needed to maximize the team’s potential.
Only after you give a team like that a chance to play together can you say that the team needs to move on from Simmons or Embiid. But even if you definitively say that the Sixers need to move on from one of their stars you need to figure out the proper return.
What is Simmon’s Value?
IF the Sixers decide to trade Simmons, the could easily do better than McCollum, Simons, and what would likely be a pick in the 20-30 range. Simmons is a triple double threat every game, one of the NBA’s most prolific floor generals, and one of the strongest defenders in the entire NBA.
Simmons is often labeled an “empty stat defender” but that’s a lazy argument for keyboard warriors. The fact is that Simmons not only led the league in steals, but he ranked fifth in DBPM (Defensive Box Plus/Minutes), and eleventh in DWS (Defensive Win Shares). His impact defensively alone gives him value but then you add in his efficiency and play-making ability. Finally when you factor in his age, and potential, he is among the elite in the NBA in terms of trade value.
Now CJ McCollum is the unquestionable key to this trade. His offensive talent is unquestionable and he would be an easy fit alongside Embiid. Even still, McCollum does not provide the same value that Simmons does. McCollum ranked 118th in the NBA in DBPM and 271 in DWS, and is hardly the play-maker Simmons is. McCollum is also five years older than Simmons lowering his value even more. Bailey clearly understands the difference between the two which is why he also included Anfernee Simons and a first-round pick but is that enough?
The short answer is no but the rational behind it is that while McCollum is a quality piece, Simons does not hold as much value as Portland believes and their 2021 first round pick will likely be in the 20s, MAYBE high teens. The Blazers 2020 pick (currently slotted at 14) would be much more worthwhile but even still it’s tough to compare that to a player as young and talented as Simmons.
Does a good Ben Simmons trade exist?
Frankly no, for a quality Simmons trade to exist there would need to be a willing team with a superstar they will part with. For instance, if the Blazers were to offer Damian Lillard instead (they won’t), that would be a conversation. If the Clippers wanted to swap Paul George, that’s a conversation. If the Suns or Jazz wanted to move Devon Booker or Donovan Mitchell (plus additional assets), that’s a conversation. But none of those are conversations that will happen or even should happen until the Sixers try to assemble the right team around Simmons and Embiid.
Will the Sixers one day trade either Simmons and/or Embiid? Maybe, could even be probable, but that day should not come too soon or the Sixers will only have another missed opportunity on their hands like they did with Charles Barkley and Allen Iverson, trading a star for peanuts because they couldn’t build around them. Hopefully history won’t repeat itself this time.
Mandatory Credit: Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports