There needs to be calm in the Sixers organization. Trade rumors are flying about Ben Simmons but the team, and its fans, would be wise to stay patient.
For all of the “process” years, it was chaos, each and every day. No one ever knew what exactly was going to happen. During Sam Hinkie’s tenure, there wasn’t a time that you knew whether a player would be on the team the very next day. Through the Colangelo mess and right into Elton Brand, you can’t say that it was much better.
This past season saw Daryl Morey and Doc Rivers come into the fold for the team, and that is to provide basketball knowledge and stability.
While I’ve maintained, the past few years, that the Sixers wouldn’t be truly a competitor for the NBA Title until this past season, that doesn’t mean that one year should make or break the team. This past season saw the arrival of some veteran leadership in Dwight Howard and Danny Green and the arrival and success of Seth Curry. Matisse Thybulle, while not developing into a scorer as of yet, became one of the league’s better defenders.
Shake Milton had his ups and downs, as did Furkan Korkmaz, but they both continued to develop. Tyrese Maxey came on strong at the end of the year, Tobias Harris had another great year under Rivers’ coaching, and Joel Embiid, short of missing time during the regular season, was a true MVP candidate throughout the year. Which leaves us with Ben Simmons. The issue with Simmons, which has been blown through the roof as of late, is that he’s not aggressive and seems to actually not want to score. (I’m well aware of the pass to Thybulle in the playoffs, so don’t bring it up.)
Simmons, under Brett Brown, was learning the role of point guard at the NBA level while playing in the NBA. This isn’t easy to do, and he’s become quite good at it. Last season, with the number of players that the team had, who could score and shoot the ball, Simmons was tasked with running the offense, finding the open man, and becoming one of the better defenders in the league. By the end of the year, he’d accomplished all of those things and gone well beyond becoming a very good defender to actually becoming the best defender in the league.
So, why give up on him? There’s no reason. Simmons recently turned 25 years old, and to hear the average Sixers fan talk about it, he’s washed up and will never be anything in the league. Except, he’s already the best defensive player in the league, a three-time All-Star, DPOY finalist, and possesses tremendous court vision and passing ability.
Recently, the word has come that the Sixers were opening up their phone lines regarding Simmons being moved to another team. As any team would listen to offers, the Sixers have and should be holding on to Ben.
This season, after the past year’s ups and downs, it’s a simple fix for the team and Simmons. Doc Rivers just needs to tell him that he’s required to shoot the ball. That he has to take shots, has to be aggressive around the basket, and that there can’t be any more of the six-point nights where he takes only four shots.
Too many times in the city, you see the fans overreact to players. Allen Iverson is probably one of the most beloved athletes to ever put on a Sixers uniform, but, and it happens all of the time, people still bring up the whole “talking about practice” situation. There were always sideways comments about him being too small, his shot selection, etc. When he was gone, the city missed him, and they will if the team decides that it’s time to move on from Simmons, as well.
He has accomplished a lot in the few years he’s played here and has been doing the things that have been asked of him. This upcoming year, the time is right for him to take another step and start scoring. It’s needed, not for the city or its fans, but for him to be a more successful and more complete player.
It’s time to realize that maybe it’s not the player that is the problem. Fans in the city are too comfortable booing, making comments, or acting boorishly. It might be time to stop pointing fingers at players that are here, trying to do their best, playing a game that they’ve dedicated their life to. Because, as soon as they’re gone, and they thrive somewhere else, your tune always changes, and you start to hear the “I knew he’d be great” nonsense.
I’m not saying that fans can’t or shouldn’t boo or give the team a hard time when it’s deserved, but there needs to be some sort of common sense involved.
Maybe after the way athletes in the city have been treated and it’s not worked, try something different.
Cheer on your team, support the players in the good and bad times and make it so that you appreciate the stars we have while we have them.
As far as Ben Simmons goes, this year will be incredible for him, and he will take the next step in his development. The scary part is that it could be for another team, and it won’t be because of any fault of his own. The team, its fans, the city, and the management, should be practicing a bit of patience. It will pay off in the end.