It’s no secret that the Philadelphia 76ers will most likely move off of all-star Ben Simmons this summer. Despite reports coming out that the 76ers are “committed to Simmons as a long-term piece of the team”, it is clear that the writing is on the wall and it is time for a change of scenery for Ben Simmons. Simmons is coming off of an all-star season to go with an all-NBA defensive team appearance. However, his extreme struggles in this year’s playoffs essentially void what he did this season.
In the 76ers playoff matchup vs the Atlanta Hawks, Ben Simmons shot a horrific 34.2% from the free-throw line. Shaquille O’Neal who was notorious for his poor free-throw shooting consistently shot at least 50% from the line in the playoffs. Deandre Jordan, another player who is known for his terrible free-throw shooting, can at least shoot around 40% from the free-throw line in the playoffs. So in perspective, Simmons is on a historically poor free-throw shooting pace. Not to mention in terms of three-point shooting, Ben Simmons can’t hit the back of a barn door.
All of these aspects are not ideal for a physical guard whose game only works around the rim, like Simmons. In a lot of ways, this is similar to the Markell Fultz situation. At this point with Simmons, besides the fact that this jump shot is unconventional and broken. I think a mental aspect is also in play. During the series vs the Hawks, Simmons appeared to be playing scared, looking to pass as soon as he got the ball. Simmons, during the entire seven-game series, only took three fourth-quarter shots. In the final four games of the series, he took zero.
How to “Fix” Ben Simmons:
Despite all of this , Simmons is still “fixable”, but a change of scenery is needed, just like Fultz. In addition to a team change, I believe Simmons would benefit from a position and role change as well. Simmons’ days of playing the pure point guard position in the NBA are over. For him to be maximized on the offensive end, Simmons should be moved to the power forward positions. Allowing him to play a “point forward” role.
Many players have found success with this role such as new all-star Julius Randle and Draymond Green. This role would allow Simmons to still use his size to play both in and around the paint. Simmons would still have the ball in his hands allowing him to create and pass out of the post. Or, from the post, he can set up in a triple threat stance and blow by slower defenders.
Simmon’s poor shooting makes it easy for defenses to set up their plan when he is playing point guard. When Simmons is playing point guard , defenses essentially built a wall not allowing Simmons to penetrate the paint.This simply cannot happen for your point guard, because the point guard’s job is to not just score, but help create for others, and if Simmons can’t penetrate the defense and break it down, he cannot create for others, at least at an elite level.
However, putting Simmons at the power forward spot would take the pressure off Simmon’s, as the power forward Simmons could just focus on his game and taking what the defense gives him, and by doing that Simmons will still naturally create for others, due to his elite passing ability and court vision, but this time the opposing teams’ defense won’t be able to just build a wall versus Simmons.
Coming out of the draft Simmons was compared to players such as Magic Johnson and Lebron James. While that was ambitious if maximized Simmons could still become a super-hero version of Draymond Green. Elite defense along with good enough offensive play and an ability to create for his teammates.
Here are three teams that could “Fix” Ben Simmons and allow him to reach his full potential as a player:
1.) The Cleveland Cavaliers
The 76ers will most likely want to trade Simmons out of the conference. Just to avoid the possibility he turns it around and makes them pay in the east. The Cavaliers make a lot of sense as a potential trade partner. Rumors are swirling that the Cavs will be big sellers this offseason with names such as Collin Sexton, Kevin Love, and Larry Nance Jr. as potential players the Cavs could be looking to move. Both sides could benefit from trade surrounding Simmons and these players. Simmons would get a chance to go to a smaller market team with less pressure while transforming his game into the point forward role. This would also allow young up-and-coming Cav’s guard Darius Garland could run the offense as the main guard.
The 76ers would get back some combination of if not all three of, Collin Sexton, Kevin Love, and Larry Nance Jr. All three players could all help the 76ers in a multitude of ways. Sexton would provide a natural point guard, who knows how to penetrate and break down defenses. Sexton also is a plus on defense and has a good enough three-point shot. Kevin Love would be an ideal power forward to pair with All-NBA Center Joel Embiid due to his shooting ability, and overall offensive game. Nance would be a good contributor off the bench, and draft picks would also be included in a deal. If the 76ers end up trading Simmons, Cleveland is one of the few teams in the East that make sense.
2.) The Portland Trailblazers
This is one destination that just makes perfect sense for everyone the 76ers Ben Simmons, and the Trailblazers. Similar to Cleveland, Simmons would be able to play with a true point guard in Dame Lillard. Simmons could potentially thrive in the Point Forward role as well. The Blazers severely lack defense and Simmons would bring an instant jolt to that side of the game. Simmons would be surrounded with shooters like Norman Powell., which would only elevate his game. The 76ers would be able to get back CJ McCollum who would be a perfect fit for this 76ers team.
McCollum would be able to be one of the most dynamic scorers on the team, only behind Embiid. McCollum on the 76ers would have an easier time getting his spots and finding open shots, due to the roster upgrade he would be making. While the 76ers wouldn’t get a point guard back as the Cavs could offer with Collin Sexton. The 76ers could go with Tyrese Maxey as the starting point guard going forward, who showed huge flashes this season. Even if Dame were to leave Portland, the Trail Blazers could start their rebuild and build around Ben Simmons. Not to mention whatever young players they would get in a Dame trade.
3.) The Golden State Warriors
This would be the absolute perfect situation for Ben Simmons to land. playing with elite players like Steph Curry and Klay Thompson would be the quickest way to “fix” Simmons’ game. The fix for Simmons would be ideal, as he would then be able to play off of these superstar shooters. Simmons could thrive from the post looking for open shooters, and dominate in transition through the drive-and-kick game.
The Warriors would also be able to allow Simmons to play out of the post, which Simmons could thrive in. The only snag in this potential deal is the compensation. While the Warriors have the draft compensation to land a player like Simmons, the players on the Warriors roster may not be as helpful to the 76ers as other players on other teams. However, if a deal surrounding one of Draymond Green or Andrew Wiggins, plus Jordan Poole and picks, it could benefit all parties involved.
All in all, the Ben Simmons situation is gonna be a fascinating one to follow through this NBA offseason. Despite reports, I truly do believe the writing is on the wall for Ben Simmons. A change of scenery, and position, is the path to “fixing” Ben Simmons.