Philadelphia has a Ben Simmons problem. And after a nightmare series out of the 76ers’ point guard where he proved to be a liability during Philly’s shocking Eastern Conference semifinals loss to the Hawks in seven games, there’s a decent chance the defensive whiz has played his last game as a Sixer.
I could reel off the shocking numbers the offensively deficient Simmons put up against Atlanta, but I’ll spare you the gruesome details, especially after he summed up his poor performance pretty succinctly following Game 7.
“Offensively, I wasn’t there. I didn’t do enough for my teammates,” Simmons said. “There’s a lot of things that I need to work on.”
A lot would be an understatement. Whether you want to talk about his non-existent jump shot, his fear of getting fouled, or his shocking metamorphosis from regular-season juggernaut to a player that arguably shouldn’t have been on the court during crunch time in the postseason, it kind of feels like the whole Joel Embiid x Ben Simmons experiment has finally run its course. The Process, the genius of former Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie, essentially died an embarrassing and exasperating public death Sunday. It’s time to try something else and we all know Embiid ain’t going anywhere.
So that means the Sixers probably should flip Simmons into something because they sure as hell can’t run it back again after that incredible flameout—Philly blew leads of 18 and 26 points in separate games this series and lost Game 7 at home. Simmons, at only 24, still has plenty of upside should he ever really commit himself to become a serviceable shooter. But his limitations are stifling the Sixers in the postseason where your warts are magnified and only the craziest of Philly fanatics would advocate keeping Simmons on the roster after what we just witnessed.
While Simmons deserves all the props for his defense and making things difficult for Trae Young at times, even coach Doc Rivers couldn’t give his player a vote of confidence after he was asked if the 76ers could win a title with Simmons running the show.
“I don’t know that question or the answer to that right now,” Rivers said. “So I don’t know the answer to that.”
Knee jerk reactions following deflating losses often look ridiculous a few weeks and certainly a few months afterward. I feel pretty confident betting Phill isn’t trading him tomorrow, but 48 hours after the Sixers choked away what should’ve been an appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals it feels completely fair to guess Simmons gets traded this summer. And that’s probably the right move for the Sixers long term.