The Philadelphia 76ers burst through the gates for an 8-2 start to the season as the Eastern Conference first team despite the absence of Australian star Ben Simmons.
And while Covid-related injuries and absences have also played a role, the Sixers are now falling in the middle of the East standings to 15-15 and are desperately missing Simmons’ game on both sides of the field.
Philadelphia has long sought a suitable profession for the 25-year-old, who stays away from the squad on mental health grounds as he seeks a Top 25 superstar in return.
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Sat 18 Dec
Saturday, December 18
The Dec.15 death gave the Sixers flexibility in a trade, as players who signed contracts during the offseason became eligible to be moved.
But time is running out in what threatens to become a lost season for Doc Rivers’ side as they approach halfway.
And opinion in the United States is clear: Simmons’ unavailability is starting to become a major issue for a franchise that should have championship ambitions.
“I don’t want to stress the Ben Simmons thing, but this team obviously lacks a catalyst on both ends of the pitch,” he said. The painted lines’ Austin Krell wrote.
“There are strong individualized talents on the list. But connective tissue does not exist. The shooters are not as good as they should be. The plans are not as open as they used to be. Transition and perimeter defense are of a different league than they were with Simmons. The reality is that he misses this team sorely.
Krell also pointed out that the league’s surge in Covid cases makes it difficult for teams to negotiate complex deals involving stars.
And he warned that if the Sixers panic and make a bad trade, it could send the entire franchise on a spiral.
“Before people ask for the conclusion of the Simmons situation, you have to understand that the team is a singular bad decision far from going back to a rebuild,” he wrote.
“The season is not yet lost. But the losses resulting from brutally under-equipped teams are certainly a low point. And with Simmons’ incredibly fragile situation, there may not be an end in sight. Unless the internal factors lose their temper (Joel Embiid, Darryl Morey, etc.), this just might be the product you have until the elephant in the room is treated.
athleticism Rich Hofmannpointed out that Philadelphia has struggled in areas where Simmons is so strong, especially when it comes to play and defense, when it places a much greater burden on role players.
This is a Sixers team that ranks 21st in the NBA in terms of defensive standings, while of course missing its first defenseman and one of the best in the NBA.
“They’re an below-average playmaking team, both in terms of coming on the ball for Embiid and creating shots for the others. Simmons is by far the best passer on the roster. Even. if he doesn’t take a 3, Simmons creates them for his teammates at a high level, ”Hofmann wrote.
“The Sixers are also woefully small in the backcourt defensively and on the wing, allowing someone like (Miami goalie) Gabe Vincent to score a career-high 26 points. Simmons would certainly help there with the rebound issues as well. Matisse Thybulle, on whom we rely more because of his length and his defense, is now a key player. Without Simmons, the Sixers are less able to resist Thybulle laying an egg. “
Somewhere else, Sports section Anthony Puccio pointed out on Twitter that the Brooklyn Nets are doing much better in the absence of Kyrie Irving – currently first in the East – than what Philadelphia has without Simmons.
It shows that the Nets have two other superstars, Kevin Durant and James Harden, who can carry the load and become bigger playmakers and scorers.
Meanwhile, in Philadelphia, too much is being put on Embiid’s shoulders, while to get back to Hoffman’s point, Simmons’ intangibles aren’t easily replaced.
Tobias Harris is a great player, Tyrese Maxey has emerged, Seth Curry is shooting and Thyhbulle and Danny Green are quality defenders, but there is a clear void in this team without Simmons.
Philly Inquirer’s Mike Sielski believes the Sixers’ steadfast stance to seat Simmons was more tolerable during the offseason, but that now wastes Embiid’s bounty and wears out fans.
While Embiid has been hampered by injuries throughout his career, the star center is an MVP contender when he’s fit and shooting.
And given her history of setbacks, you must be wondering what sort of pressure such a massive workload is putting on her body.
So does that come into play and at some point the Sixers just decide to take no chances with Embiid’s health and pack him this season? Some experts think this might be the best avenue.
Switching to a semi-tank could also put them in a much more solid position in the long run and build assets to do another race next season with whatever part (s) they get in a trade for Simmons.
But it also threatens to derail the organization if it rubs Embiid the wrong way, though all this drama with Simmons may already be doing it.
The situation is ultimately a mess and the ramifications may run deeper than it appears. Something must give, however, and soon.
But if the Sixers stuff that, they could end up where they were 10 years ago and be forced to release The Process 2.0.