Time for Sixers to make a decision on Simmons or Embiid
After three years of promise but ultimate disappointment, is it time for Philadelphia to trade one of Ben Simmons or Joel Embiid?
Simmons, drafted in 2016, has shown himself to be an elite play maker and versatile defender with his great size for a guard but his lack of shooting ability continues to affect his game. While Joel has shown himself to be one of the dominant big men in the game of basketball today but has consistently struggled with injuries in his six years in Philly. Following their first round playoff exit to the Boston Celtics (4-0), the team parted ways with head coach Brett Brown but is it now time for them to part ways with one of their all-stars.
Making a case for each:
Ben Simmons is one of the most unique guards in the league for both good and bad reasons. On the negative side of things, he has no shooting game, most of his scoring comes from drives to the basket and while this does lead to fouls, he has a career free throw percentage of just 59. This makes him easy for opponents to set up against. On the flip side, he is a 6 ft 10 in guard, giving him significant size advantage over any guard in the league and making him one of the most talented and versatile defenders in the NBA. Add to this his elite passing ability and you have one of the most sought after back court ballers in the NBA today. An all-star for the past two years that led the league in steals in 2020, how could you not build a winning team around this guy? Because elite shooters dominate this age of basketball.
Then you have Embiid, the seven footer from Cameroon has the ability to do it all on both ends of the court but injuries have plagued him. The center has played just 209 of a possibly 319 games across his four seasons with the Sixers, after missing the first two seasons after he was drafted due to injury. When he his healthy however, there is no stopping him. His best season came in 2018/19, he played 64 games averaging 27.5 pts, 13.7 rebs & 1.9 blks, which earned him an all-star and a place on both the ALL-NBA Second Team & NBA ALL-Defensive Second Team, for a second consecutive season. You would think these two together would be a match made in heaven but in their three years as teammates they haven't brought the success that was expected.
On the other hand, Brett Brown may have been the problem, maybe its one more season of trusting the process. Whatever head coach they bring in will certainly want the chance to make the Simmons/Embiid tandem work and lift the 76ers back to the top in the East. I'm not saying that the duo hasn't brought success to Philly, having reached the playoffs in each of the three years they've played together but they haven't got passed the Conference Semi-Finals, following respective 3rd place finishes in 2018,2019 and a sixth place finish in this past campaign.
They couldn't even make it to the conference finals with a starting five of Simmons, JJ Reddick, Jimmy Butler, Tobias Harris & Embiid. So if they are going to continue to trust 'the process', their front office is going to have to do some amount of work to build a team that can space the floor for Embiid and supply quality shooting around Simmons and find the HC that knows how to bring it all together. 'The Process' has worked and could still bring the Sixers to the promise land but its going to take a great head coach, some quality trades and a whole lot of luck for Simmons & Embiid to stay fit for the whole season.