The Sixers Have A Massive Ben Simmons Problem
The Philadelphia 76ers have been eliminated from championship contention, after losing Game 7 at home to the underdog Atlanta Hawks.
One does not have to look very far to see where Philly’s troubles lie, as 3-time all-star and perennial Defensive Player of the Year candidate Ben Simmons was almost a non-factor for large portions of the series.
The highly touted Aussie, who is currently on a contract worth $177 million (USD) over the next 5 years, failed to average 10 ppg for the series, and shot an abysmal 33% from the free throw line, making him a liability down the stretch of close games.
Simmons’ lack of offensive potency was such an issue for his side that coach Doc Rivers was forced to bench him at the end of the Sixers’ 103-96 loss on Monday.
The spotlight will shine all the brighter on Simmons’ subpar performances in this series given the heart and determination shown by many of his teammates. Joel Embiid had an incredible series, averaging 30 and 13 on 46/35/83 shooting splits despite playing through a torn meniscus.
Seth Curry was a revelation, as he averaged 22 ppg as a result of shooting a ridiculous 60% from 3pt range, while Tobias Harris, with the exception of a brutal showing in Game 5, was good for at least 20 points on solid efficiency all throughout the series.
“The Process” was supposed to be in its final stages, as Sixers fans hope year after year that this time around their hyper-talented roster will break through and at least make a real tilt at the title. However, investing over 30% of your teams’ cap space in a point guard with a pronounced reluctance to shoot a jump shot is anything but a proven championship resume, particularly in today's NBA where the 3-point shot reigns king.
Simmons’ value has hardly been lower than it is now, and with the Sixers missing the boat on trading for James Harden early in the season, there aren’t going to be a lot of attractive trade packages out there for the Sixers to choose from.
It’s quite possible that GM Daryl Morey might have to give up additional assets just to get some kind of value from a trade for Simmons, as very few teams with playoff contention in mind will want to tie themselves to him for at least another 4 seasons.
Ultimately, the Philadelphia 76ers franchise has a very big decision to make this off-season.
Do they still believe a core of Simmons, Embiid and Harris can get them over the hump with a new supporting cast?
Or is it time to look to revamp their roster and go in a new direction in search of the promised land?
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