What’s the future for Ben Simmons?

Ben Simmons - photo courtesy of TheBoston Globe.

What’s the future for Ben Simmons?
June 30
12:56 2021

Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons has had a bad playoff run that showed he was a major liability during crunch time. Simmons and the 76ers’ season just ended in the Eastern Conference Semifinal round against the Atlanta Hawks and Simmons was a virtual non-factor offensively throughout. His lack of progression in his offensive skill set has left many wondering if Philly wants to trade him or not.

It’s hard to imagine a player of Simmons’ caliber being talked about this way, but his lack of offense and lack of productivity at the free throw line was appalling to say the least. He has many people wondering if he has reached his ceiling, not because of his talent level, but because of his unwillingness to develop his offensive game.

Coming into the league, Simmons did not have a consistent jump shot, but because of his talent level, many thought his jumper would develop over time; it hasn’t. Simmons had a foot injury that took away his first season in the league. I figured that would be the perfect time to work on shot, he didn’t.  

Now we are at the end of year five for Simmons and he is essentially the same player he was coming into the league. He is an elite defender, however his inability to get better on the offensive end and the free throw line limits what he can do.

For most players of Simmons’ caliber, they add something to their game each off-season to make them a better player. We have seen good players develop their games over their first few years in the league to make them all-star, borderline superstar-level players.  

Some good examples in recent memory would be Jimmy Butler, Julius Randle, Paul George and Giannis Antetokounmpo. None of the aforementioned players came into the league as all-star level players, but continued to work on their games to become one. Simmons is already a three-time All-Star, which baffles my mind as to why he has not added to his offensive arsenal at all during his time in the league.

Against Atlanta, Simmons only averaged 9.9 points, 8.6 assists and 6.3 rebounds. He shot 60% from the field; however, his 33% free throw percentage was historically bad and caused head coach Doc Rivers to routinely take Simmons out of the lineup late in games. To make matters worse, Simmons only scored a combined 19 points in the final three games against the Hawks.

“Obviously, he struggled from the free-throw line and that became a factor in the series, there’s no doubt about that,” said Rivers

Simmons even acknowledged his shortcomings after the 76ers’ game 7 loss. “Offensively, I wasn’t there. I didn’t do enough for my teammates. ,,, There’s a lot of things that I need to work on.”

His lack of offensive development is very surprising, given how gifted he was coming out of LSU. At 6’11 and 240 lbs. Simmons was touted as a perfect mixture between LeBron James and Magic Johnson. Over four healthy NBA seasons, the Sixers have waited for his game to develop offensively to better pair with superstar center Joel Embiid. I am not sure how much longer they can wait.

If Philly is attempting to move Simmons, they are being tight-lipped right now. I’m assuming they are trying to either maximize Simmons’ trade value, or they actually do want to keep the all-star guard. Klutch Sports CEO and Simmons’ agent Rich Paul recently met with Sixers’ president of basketball operations Daryl Morey and general manager Elton Brand at the pre-draft combine to discuss Simmons’ future with the team, sources said.

Morey spoke with reporters at his postseason news conference last Tuesday and declined to make any definitive statements about the long-term future of Simmons.

“We have a very strong group we believe in,” said Morey. “None of us can predict the future of what’s going to happen in any, in any place. We love what Ben brings, we love what Joel brings, we love what Tobias [Harris] brings. In terms of what’s next, we’re going to do what’s best for the 76ers to give us the best chance to win the championship with every single player on the roster.”

Later in the interview he added, “I think it’s pretty straightforward what certain players need to improve. We need to be a better offensive team. … Frankly if we’re squeaking by the second round, that just tells me we’re unfortunately not good enough … to win the title, so we need to get better.”

I think the Sixers have seen everything they need to see from Simmons at this point. His inability and unwillingness to even shoot the basketball at times shows he is not the right pairing for Embiid. There have been several rumors of trade suitors around the league. ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith thinks the Golden State Warriors are very interested in trading for Simmons.

“In the end, Philadelphia is trying to claim that Philadelphia is not interested in moving Ben Simmons,” Smith said on Friday’s episode of First Take. “Let me tell y’all something: that’s a damn lie. That’s a damn lie.  

“Okay, it’s just that they’re not interested in getting trash back for him. You make a solid, bona fide offer, the Philadelphia 76ers are going to consider it. I believe the Golden State Warriors are going to make a push for Ben Simmons. Okay, so, keep your ears tuned, stay tuned. Ben Simmons, it’s possible Ben Simmons can end up in Golden State with Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.  

I’m not saying it’s going to happen. Alright, but calls have already been made, things are percolating, and it wouldn’t surprise me at all, if something like that ended up going down. This notion that Ben Simmons, ain’t no way Philadelphia is moving him? Hell yeah. They’ll move him, if it’s the right offer. They won’t move up for garbage, they won’t move him for something that’s not a good offer, but I’m telling you, I know a lot of people in Philly, as y’all both know, but let them get the right offer? Ben’s gone.”

I’m not sure if the Warriors have the right pieces or draft capital in tow to trade for Simmons. And with Simmons and Green on the roster at the same time doesn’t quite make a lot of sense. It’s evident that Simmons needs to address the holes in his game to make him the player everyone expected him to be, or he will just be a good, but not great, player. 

Hopefully this is the wake-up call he needs to really work on developing that much-needed jump shot that will take his game to the next level.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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