Ben Simmons has done everything in his power to be traded. He has stopped talking with his teammates, accepted millions of dollars in fines, and has sat out an entire season. Simmons is only a 76er by contractual obligation.
Through all of this, Embiid has publicly stated that the 76ers would accept him back to the team. The coaches have echoed the same sentiment, wanting Ben Simmons to return. Many fans also were hoping he would come back, if for no other reason, to boost his value in a potential trade. However, with the NBA, the winds of change can flip the perception of a player immediately.
While Ben Simmons was sitting out, fans, media personnel, and armchair GMs filled their free time with the NBA trade machine, pumping out trade after trade, ranging from players like C.J. McCollum to players like Buddy Hield and Harrison Barnes. Simmons’ value could not be agreed upon between any two fans.
A C.J. for Ben swap is what some people wanted. C.J. McCollum was traded for Josh Hart, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, and a protected first round pick (and filler), further complicating how someone should view Bens’ value. Some would focus on what he is: a 3-time All-Star, an elite defender, and an elite passer. Others focused on what he wasn’t: a scorer, a shooter, clutch. However, President of Basketball Operations Daryl Morey played it smart, ignoring all the voices crying out to trade Ben for anything.
Morey knew that with Ben sitting out, what he is would outweigh what he isn’t. Afterall, thanks to Ben’s silence, Ben’s haters had no new workout videos or in-game film to make fun of. Eventually, there was nothing new to say about Simmons, which left only his award history and what he could do. Teams slowly were able to talk themselves into believing the Aussie could be the missing piece to their team. Even the struggling Atlanta Hawks, who witnessed Simmons’ playoff meltdown first hand, talked themselves into Ben Simmons.
None of this interest would have been created if a disinterested, disengaged, and disgruntled Ben Simmons had taken the court this season. If Ben Simmons took the court, he would have played even more disinterested than he is typically prone to. Simmons would also open the door to even more criticism when he inevitably still refuses to take threes. He would alienate himself even further from the team in any losses. He would be a black hole for the team, removing future MVP Embiid from a lot of media coverage. If Simmons didn’t sit out, then the team would be better on paper, but significantly worse on the court.
Luckily for the 76ers, Ben Simmons decided to do something unprecedented. He sat out an entire season until he was traded. Unfortunately for him, unless he leads a team to a championship, that will be his legacy. The point guard who was scared to shoot and sat out an entire season after he got called out. His ability as a player is unquestionable, yet he couldn’t put it together while on the Sixers. Although, since he sat out, teams who were struggling were able to see Ben Simmons for what he is and not what he isn’t. Simmons is a very good player, but for once in the Sixers history, Simmons’ immaturity actually raised his value more than his play ever could have.
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