Ben Simmons was the No. 1 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft and virtually everyone believed he was a certain star. After one season on the shelf with a foot injury and a Rookie of the Year campaign, this season was expected to be his breakout campaign. That hasn’t happened. Now, as the Philadelphia 76ers continue to look disjointed, many are wondering if it’s time to trade Simmons.
Joel Embiid is clearly the centerpiece of whatever the Sixers do in the future. The 24-year-old center ranks 10th in the NBA in PER and is averaging career highs in 26.9 points, 13.5 rebounds and minutes per game while adding 1.9 blocks. He also ranks 21st in Real Plus-Minus (3.39)
Simmons is the other perceived centerpiece in Philadelphia, but he and Embiid really don’t work well together on the court. While Simmons is having a nice second season — he’s averaging 16.4 points, 9.1 rebounds and 8.0 assists — he absolutely refuses to shoot the ball from outside the paint. He still has yet to attempt a 3-pointer.
As we all know, the paint is Embiid’s domain, which means Simmons’ attacking usually creates a crowded situation down low. The offense is disjointed with the two of them in the game together.
ESPN’s Zach Lowe rightly points out that Simmons thrived as a drive-and-kick playmaker when Embiid was out last season. Down the stretch the Sixers won 10 straight deploying Simmons in that role.