Ben Simmons Needs to Deal With It
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If you’ve been following the National Basketball Association (NBA) in recent years, you probably know who Ben Simmons is. He was the number one pick in the 2016 draft, 2018 Rookie of the Year, and widely considered one of the best defenders and passers in the league. He’s also known as one of the worst shooters in the league, becoming the butt of jokes and subject of memes across social media. In the 2021 Playoffs, Simmons showed us that his shooting problems are too large to ignore. The top seeded Philadelphia 76ers faced off against the fifth seeded Atlanta Hawks in the second round. Many people picked the 76ers to win the series in five or six games. They simply had more star power (center Joel Embiid is more talented than any Hawks player).
What fans hadn’t anticipated was for Simmons to play like a coward. He looked like he didn’t want the ball, and his averages for that series were an anemic line of 10 points, six rebounds, and eight assists. Fans can expect this production from a role player, but not one of the leaders of a team and a top draft pick. The series went all the way to Game 7, with Embiid having great games in order to get there, and Philly had a chance to eliminate the Hawks on their home floor.
The 76ers led the game most of the way throughout, but, in the fourth quarter, the Hawks made a surge with their efficient three-point shooting. With around three minutes remaining, Simmons passed up an open dunk over the much smaller Trae Young and sent his teammate to the line. That moment right there summed up Simmons’s entire series: he was scared of the moment, and he passed up an open dunk on his home court. After the game, 76ers coach Doc Rivers said he didn’t know if Simmons could be a championship point guard on their team.
Some may see this remark as inappropriate coming from a coach, but others see it as motivation. Simmons’s reaction has been underwhelming at best. He recently announced that he never wants to play in a 76ers uniform again, and he is not showing up for this year’s training camp.
Simmons is not doing his job. You get paid millions to play basketball, so play it. The ball is quite literally in Simmons’s court. The best course of action now is for him to respond with aggression (on the court), come back a different man, and remind the fans that he can be their championship point guard.
Where do the Sixers go from here? Simmons and General Manager Daryl Morey both look to be standing their ground. Simmons doesn’t want to play, and Morey doesn’t want to trade him for less than he is worth. A possible trade could be Simmons for the Brooklyn Nets’ Kyrie Irving. The Nets have enough offensive star power with Kevin Durant and James Harden, and Simmons could be the defensive anchor who sets them up for the future and makes them better. For the 76ers, Irving could be an extremely skilled point guard with elite ball handling, shooting, and finishing, the perfect pick and roll partner for Embiid. However, it appears as though this trade will likely not go through. All fans can hope is that Simmons bucks up and comes back as the player they expect him to be.