The Philadelphia 76ers don’t exactly have a glistening history when it comes to the NBA Draft. From the failure of Jahlil Okafor to the weird and whacky Markelle Fultz era, the Process was filled with bumps and bruises. None will leave a scar bigger than Ben Simmons.
At this point, it doesn’t matter what the future holds. Whether he’s on the team, off the team, or streaming Call of Duty during Training Camp. The fact of the matter is that we’ve all slowly realized that Ben Simmons is exactly what we thought he was, but hoped he could grow out of.
He was tipped to be the next LeBron coming out of college and was mentored by the legend himself. He burst onto the NBA scene after dominating at LSU and if we fast forward past the injury setbacks early on, he slowly turned into the player that he was always destined to – a generationally gifted player who will never be able to turn the potential into ability.
Over the past few years, the drama has intensified. Whether it’s criticisms of his lifestyle that were often unwarranted, or the deafening cries to see change in his game after countless videos emerge of Simmons working on his jumper, only for that mid-range shot to never translate into an NBA game. Things really exploded during the 2021 NBA playoffs when his lack of free-throw consistency was exposed and exploited again and again to a point where it arguably cost the team a shot at an NBA title.
If we’re honest, the Sixers were in the best position to bring a title to the City of Brotherly Love for close to two decades. The fact that they fell heartbreakingly short of that milestone is one thing, but to know it could’ve been so different if a player who not only had the world at his feet, but was paid to be an elite player, had actually put the work in to strengthen his weaknesses, stung.
We all know how the rest of the story has panned out and it’s ultimately ended in the team’s Head Coach needing to go on First Take to discuss the situation. It’s ended in teammates trying to fly out and meet with Ben only to be given the cold shoulder while he flies around flaunting a lavish lifestyle. Ben Simmons is done with Philadelphia and Philadelphia is done with Ben Simmons.
Sixers fans are passionate, they’re loud, they’re abrasive, but they don’t ask for much. They only ask that you show up to work, leave it on the court, and give the same level of energy that they give to you. Ben Simmons rarely does any of those things, and when the product isn’t up to expectation, it’s a lot harder to stomach.
Ben Simmons isn’t a bad player. In fact, he’s a pretty damn great one. To say he’s one of the best defenders in the NBA would be accurate. But he’ll never be the best. He’ll never push to that next level because he doesn’t have the drive to. He’s the guy at School who coasts to good grades without ever really trying, but when all is said and done, the world looks back and wonders what could’ve been if he’d actually applied himself.
Ben Simmons won’t be the biggest bust in Sixers history at face value. That’s a pretty ludicrous statement. However, he’s the biggest bust because the Sixers believed in his potential enough to pay him the money he felt he deserved, only for Simmons to show no fight, no hunger, and no respect when it really mattered most. He let his teammates down. He let the fans down. He let himself down.
Because of a total lack of care displayed by Simmons in many aspects, the Sixers missed out on what may end up being their easiest ever path to sitting atop the NBA as Champions. Now he’s reportedly intending to sit out training camp and reports suggest he’s turning down meetings with teammates who want to help remedy the situation.
That’s why he’s the team’s biggest bust. There may be no player for the next decade who has the potential that Ben Simmons did coming out of college. But if he never puts himself in a position to reach it, as the organization handcuffs itself to him in the belief that he will, the prime years of Joel Embiid become wasted.
The potential of a big-three with Tobias Harris disappears.
Doc Rivers will take the fall when he could’ve engineered something truly remarkable.
A team built around a player so volatile will ultimately meet its demise because that player couldn’t see past his own car collection.
Ben Simmons as an individual is not a bust. But in terms of the devastation he’s causing, nobody has come close.
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