It’s been no secret that since the Sixers drafted Ben Simmons back in 2016, the team has looked at two different systems to see what the best fit is for their superstar player. One of the systems, that has been mainly used since he was drafted sees Ben play at point guard and the other sees him fill in at power forward.
Ben’s style of play is certainly unique for a point guard, given he doesn’t have a three-point shot and is constantly driving to the basket to score points. However, it’s worked out for him so far, given he can find it easier to physically dominate other guards in the league in the paint over trying to physically dominate other power forwards.
The experiment made sense given the way Ben plays basketball and the fact that the Sixers have struggled to find a true power forward in recent years. However, it’s reached a time where they need to stop experimenting with the two systems and pick one going forward. With this, let’s look at what the options are for the Sixers if they were to choose one of the two systems moving forward, and which one would be the best for both Ben and the team.
Like I previously mentioned Ben plays really well at point guard and it suits his play style. However, there are downsides to him playing at point guard over power forward It means that currently, the Sixers have to play Al Horford in the position and he just doesn’t suit that role. As a Celtics fan, I can tell you from years of experience that Horford isn’t good at power forward. When he played there and we tried Theis/Baynes at center, we really struggled as a team.
Outside of Horford, the Sixers really struggle for depth at power forward. Going off the current roster, the only other true power forward registered at that position is Mike Scott and that’s just not good enough for a team that wants and needs to go deep in the playoffs.
A solution to the problem at power forward is to move Tobias Harris from small forward to power forward, given he’s played there in the past and he can still produce what he currently does at small forward at the other side of the court. This would mean the Sixers would need to add a small forward during the offseason, but adding a good floor spacing guy would help the team even more if Ben stays at point guard permanently.
The other solution, and it’s one the Sixers have explored, is moving Ben to power forward full time. Shake Milton has shown some really good potential and promise at point guard, but he hasn’t blown anyone away. It’s hard to imagine he’d be the point guard of the future for the Sixers. Ben being at power forward permanently would mean the Sixers would have to heavily invest in a point guard. Whether that could be through the draft with a 1st round pick, or whether they could pull a trade off for an existing NBA point guard would come down to the front office.
The issue with that part of the move for Ben is the fact that the Sixers front office hasn’t really instilled a huge amount of confidence when drafting players, so it would mean giving up players and possibly more for a point guard on another team, something that could prove very costly.
In the current situation the Sixers have found themselves in, they’re really hurting their chances of being a true threat in the Eastern Conference. By experimenting with Ben rather than picking a permanent position for him, it means the team is leaving too many holes open at either power forward, small forward and point guard. Ben is currently being used as a quick fix for a failed offseason signing in Al Horford, and now the entire team is feeling the consequences.
In my opinion, the best option for the Sixers is to keep Ben Simmons as a point guard. He thrives with the ball in his hands throughout the game and moving him to power forward would limit the amount of time on the ball he gets, even if it’s just a little bit.
Keeping Simmons at point guard does bring up issues at power forward, but like I previously mentioned, there are two options to fix that without harming Ben or using him as a quick fix. Either move Tobias Harris to power forward and sign a small forward who specializes in spreading the field, or keep Harris as the Sixers’ small forward and invest into a proper power forward who can help that system out over playing Al Horford in a position he isn’t good at.
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