Philadelphia 76ers

Despite swirling rumors, the writing is still on the wall for Ben Simmons

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It has been just under a week since the painful game seven loss to the Hawks which put a disappointing end to the Sixers season. Since that time, Ben Simmons has been criticized for his lack of scoring throughout the playoffs and overall lack of offensive development since coming into the league. While Simmons has undoubtedly become a scapegoat for more issues than he is truly responsible for, his playoff performance certainly left much to be desired.

Since the Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons era begun in Philadelphia, the Sixers have just a 19-19 record in the playoffs. They have failed to advance past the conference semi-finals for the fourth straight season, and it has become clear the current team is not good enough to get over the championship hump. With the franchise having its hands tied with no cap room to attain a major free agent, and a subsequent poor draft position, a significant trade seems all but necessary to right the ship.

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There have been questions surrounding the fit of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid for several years. Daryl Morey has done everything possible to reconstruct the roster since taking over as President of Basketball Operations, but this still has not proven to be enough. Seth Curry proved to make a massive impact with his lights-out shooting, but this could not cover up the glaring offensive holes that are so clearly seen in the playstyle of the Aussie.

The DPOY runner-up is a very good player and likely has several years of productive basketball ahead of him. He is a former rookie-of-the-year winner, a three-time all-star, and a two-time all-defensive first-team member. With career averages of 15.9 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 7.7 assists, Ben Simmons has proven to be a productive player at just 24 years old. Simmons has found his role on the team by becoming the engine to the offensive in setting up others and the defensive stopper on the opposite end.

While this is an extremely impactful role and Simmons has an impressive season overall, this is simply not enough for the Sixers to be able to make the championship leap. While his limitations on offense can be hidden during the regular season, they were put on full display in the playoffs where his nonexistent desire to score was extremely detrimental to the Sixers’ overall chances of winning. As great as his passing ability is, the glaring hole in his lack of shooting has become too obvious to hide and there is a real argument that there has been a regression in this area since his rookie year.

With the offseason having started earlier than expected for the Sixers, the rumor mill will undoubtedly be in full swing. There have been rumblings of management being (rightfully) furious about the second-round exit. The Sixers had the best record in the East and secured what was seen as a cakewalk to the conference finals. A loss to the Nets or Bucks would have been disappointing but understandable, but not even reaching this stage should be considered a flat-out failure.

When such failures occur some sort of change must take place. This is often why NBA coaches are fired despite simply not having the right players to string wins together. It was an extremely poor coaching performance from Doc Rivers this postseason which is certainly a cause for concern moving forward. But with him inking a 5 year $40 million contract last season and Daryl Morey speaking glowingly of the coaching performance during his postseason presser, it is basically a lock that Rivers will be back next season.

Despite several attempts from media members, Daryl Morey was not able to be pinned down for a straight answer on Ben Simmons. Morey is too smart to be giving away his hand, and he showed faith in the potential for Simmons to grow during several responses. This was followed by a report from Adrian Wojnaroski, “or Woj” that claimed the Sixers are firmly committed to Ben Simmons remaining with the team.

While it is great to send the message that things are all sunshine and rainbows- it means absolutely nothing.

Simmons’ value is already at an all-time low and if Morey were to admit the Sixers were shopping Simmons, it would all but kill the chances of getting a deal done that would help the team. Simmons’ agent, Rich Paul, met with the Sixers front office out in Chicago regarding his future with the team. It was reported that no trade request was made, but the two sides are expected to meet again.

The hopes have always been that Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid would be the two franchise cornerstones to lead the team to a title. Unfortunately, not all fairytales are made to come true and it is important to act on this before the championship window closes up. The lack of shooting, free-throw problems, and absence of commitment to improve in these areas has likely all but sealed the fate of the Australian Sixers’ career.

These rumors and potential trade talks are unlikely to wrap up anytime soon. With Simmons stock at an all-time low, time is the team’s best asset as it can allow for the rest of the league to forget about his postseason struggles. There is no disputing how talented Simmons is, but the deficiencies in his game make it impossible to rely on him in the playoffs and thus greatly decrease the Sixers championship chances. Regardless of any leaked rumors that say otherwise, the writing is certainly on the wall for the former number one overall pick’s exit from Philadelphia.

Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire

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Lead Sixers Writer for Philly Sports Network and Co-host of the Pick Swap Podcast. Trust the Process

Twitter: @Sean_Barnard1 and @PickSwapPod

Email: sean.barnard17@gmail.com

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