Another year, another disappointing finish for Ben Simmons and the Philadelphia 76ers. After finishing the regular season with the top record in the East, the Sixers undoubtedly had championship aspirations heading into the 2021 postseason. Unfortunately, for the fourth straight season, Philadelphia failed to get past the second round and blew a monumental opportunity by losing Game 7 to the Eastern Conference Finals-bound Atlanta Hawks at home.
All the attention is now on Simmons for the horrendous series he had, where he was just an absolute zero in the scoring department. Furthermore, the 2017-18 Rookie of the Year drew a ton of flak for his atrocious shooting from the foul line, as the Hawks exploited his poor foul shooting by intentional sending the three-time All-Star to the charity stripe. Simmons averaged just 9.9 points through the entire series (6.3 points in the final three games) and shot just 33.3 percent from the charity stripe in the seven-game series loss.
Every Sixers fan would probably volunteer to drive Ben Simmons to the airport and out of The City of Brotherly Love. Likewise, the organization will most likely explore the trade market for their 2016 No. 1 overall pick this offseason. However, there is good reason to believe that Philly shouldn’t pull the trigger on a trade. Here are a couple of reasons why.
1. Ben Simmons is still just about to turn 25
Yeah, Sixers fans are probably sick of hearing it, but Ben Simmons is still just a young player in this league. It’s not like he’s a finished product already at this point of his career. There is still a lot of time for the three-time All-Star to work on his game, particularly his shooting.
Jason Kidd wasn’t a great shooter when he first started in the NBA. He wound up finishing his career as one of the top 3-point shooters in NBA history. It’s still too early to tell if Simmons will eventually follow the same path that the Hall of Fame point guard did with his shooting. Nonetheless, all hope shouldn’t be lost that he won’t develop a workable jumper at some point of his career.
Now, I know Sixers fans are mad about how Simmons hasn’t improved a lick on his shooting over the course of his four-year career, and it’s understandable why they’re frustrated. It is concerning that he hasn’t shown any signs of progress at all.
However, Philly’s window as a championship contender isn’t just about to close just yet. Sure, every franchise wants to maximize the years they have with their studs and would ideally want to win every year. However, every team goes through trials and tribulations. Joel Embiid is still just 27 years old. Simmons will turn 25 next month and isn’t even in his prime yet. The Sixers still have a lot years left to feature these two as the franchise cornerstones.
Simmons will undoubtedly need to develop some semblance of a jumper given that he is their primary ball handler. Likewise, he will also need to improve on his free-throw shooting so opposing defenses can’t exploit him in that department any more.
It has been long said that if Simmons ever develops his shooting, this will open up his game so much more. Until that happens, Philly’s championship ceiling is capped to where it is right now.
Still, that ceiling will undoubtedly break if Simmons is able to improve and, most importantly, regain his confidence.
2. What realistic trade right now would actually make the Sixers better?
Ben Simmons’ value is likely at an all-time low right now. If the Sixers explore the market, they probably wouldn’t get the same perceived value they have for the All-Defensive guard.
There’s a lot of CJ McCollum talk being thrown around out there. Do the Sixers really believe he’s going to be the guy to put them over the top? Sure, he’s a much better scorer than Simmons and this is Philly’s main frustration with the pass-first guard.
However, is McCollum going to make plays for his teammates the same way Simmons did? Will he be able to run the break for Philadelphia like Simmons has done? Is McCollum going to slow down Trae Young in a hypothetical future playoff series with the Hawks?
Simmons does a lot of other elite things for the Sixers and, sure, fans will probably roll their eyes with how we can go on and on about the Aussie’s outstanding defense and playmaking given his deficiencies. However, Philly fans probably don’t realize how much they will miss what Simmons brings to the table when he’s gone.
Sure, if Philadelphia is somehow able to land someone like Damian Lillard in a trade for Ben Simmons, then by all means make it happen. Lillard would undoubtedly raise their ceiling as a team with his offensive capabilities alone. However, if the trade lands them someone who won’t move the needle much, there really isn’t much incentive for Philly to make the deal.