3 reasons why Joel Embiid will excel without Ben Simmons
Ben Simmons was true to his word. He did not show up on media day, and we may never see him ever don the Philadelphia 76ers jersey ever again. As such, maybe it’s about time to take the narrative to a different route. Maybe Simmons isn’t actually worth the chase and that Joel Embiid could possibly even reach greater heights without the Australian.
With that said, we take a look at three reasons why JoJo might actually be better off without Ben by his side.
3. Post-up to kick-outs have maximum effect
Joel Embiid is probably the most dominant big man in the NBA today. The Cameroonian demands so much attention whenever he’s on the post that sending out double or even triple teams is the only way to stop him. And we all know what happens when a player has two or three people on him: someone will be wide open.
Head coach Doc Rivers and the front office knows this fundamental basketball concept very well. That’s why they brought in the likes of Danny Green and Seth Curry to the fold. Embiid has done a great job at being patient when the defense collapses on him. In fact, many analysts believe that this was one of Embiid’s key improvements.
Unfortunately, this aspect of the Sixers’ game wasn’t utilized to the extreme as Simmons isn’t exactly a knockdown shooter. They placed him on the “dunk spot” which created opportunities for them. At the same time, this inevitably created some spacing problems as well. Post-kick-outs would work better if the players are well spaced. Defenses would have to communicate, scramble, and contest. In other words, defenses would have to exert extra effort to stop a much-more defined Sixers offense.
2. Daryl Morey
Let’s not forget that the Sixers have Daryl Morey as their president of basketball operations. He was the one who implemented a rather unorthodox strategy during his Houston stint with James Harden and Mike D’Antoni. This strategy highlighted the use of data analytics as well as a drastic move to favor 3-pointers and lay-ups over mid-range shots.
Philly fans did not see a similar scheme with the Sixers simply because they did not have a player like James Harden who could just jack-up 3-pointers all night and also be lethal on the playmaking end. Morey gave Rivers the reins to run whatever system he feels is best. Without Simmons, fans will likely see a modification on how the team plays.
We’re not saying that Embiid will take on the role of a James Harden. Embiid is nowhere near Harden’s 3-point abilities. Rather, the mere presence of Morey in the organization may lead to another innovative approach on offense.
Among all the top big men in the NBA today, we can confidently say that Embiid is the only one who will likely do well in any era. His brute strength would allow him to go toe-to-toe with dominant big men of the past like Shaquille O’Neal, Tim Duncan or Hakeem Olajuwon. Against today’s bigs like Anthony Davis, Kristaps Porzingis, Karl-Anthony Towns—all of which have a steady shooting stroke—Embiid can absolutely match up.
JoJo’s unique assets as a player make him the perfect piece to implement a special type of offense that could once again wreak havoc on teams and even change the game.
1. No more holdouts for Joel Embiid, Sixers
In Embiid’s press conference on the first day of training camp, he emphasized how it’s the mission of every single person on the team to do everything to get better. He praised Simmons for everything he does well on the court on offense and defense. At the same time, when asked if he would like Simmons to show off his shooting chops in real games as he does in offseason workouts, Embiid said, “that would help.”
It was a subtle comment by Embiid, yet it pretty much emphasized what they need from Simmons. Unfortunately, the Australian’s behavior—cutting off all communication from the team and ultimately not participating in training camp—means that he’s not on the same page. As Embiid noted, the Sixers were very close to achieving legitimate contender status. The only thing to do is to continue moving forward.
They cannot proceed with this goal with someone like Simmons, who refuses to unveil that jump shot he’s been showing off in summer workouts and pick-up games. From the looks of it, the Sixers simply have to move on from Simmons. Even if he comes back, we cannot say that things will be the same again.
Once this saga comes to an end, Embiid and the Sixers can finally refocus. Whoever they find to replace Simmons will be a symbol of a fresh start.