The Philadelphia 76ers first preseason game is officially on the books and tip-off for the 2021-22 NBA season is just days away. However, at least some of the Philly faithful’s new-year excitement has been tempered by the continuing Ben Simmons drama.
After all, if the stand-off between the team and its star floor general continues and the Sixers are forced to go for an extended period without him (or a suitable replacement), there could be ramifications in the win-loss department.
Simmons’ holdout notwithstanding, though, league decision-makers apparently remain bullish on the Sixers as a top-notch team in the Eastern Conference.
On Tuesday, the NBA released its annual GM survey, and in spite of the Simmons situation, the Sixers were slotted as the No. 4 team in the East. Moreover, 33% of respondents actually had Philly in the third spot.
When one considers all that’s going on with the Sixers, as well as the teams ahead of them — the No. 1 Brooklyn Nets’ Big 3 is otherworldly, the defending-champion Milwaukee Bucks are at No. 2 and the third-place Miami Heat just added Kyle Lowry — fourth is not a terrible spot to be in at this juncture.
Embiid Continues to Get Love as an MVP Candidate
If not for the games he lost due to injury, Sixers star Joel Embiid may have taken home an MVP trophy last season. And if the survey results regarding who will be the 2022 honoree are any indication, he’ll be right in the MVP mix again this season.
Embiid was the No. 4 pick of GMs in this year’s MVP race (tied with James Harden of the Brooklyn Nets). Meanwhile, last year’s MVP, Nikola Jokic, wasn’t among the top choices.
The top six shook out as follows:
1. Kevin Durant, Brooklyn – 37%
2. Luka Doncic, Dallas – 33%
3. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee – 13%
4. Joel Embiid, Philadelphia & James Harden, Brooklyn – 7%
6. Stephen Curry, Golden State – 3%
Additionally, Embiid was voted as the league’s second-best center after Jokic, who beat out the Sixers big man 63% to 23%. He also received at least one vote as the “player who forces opposing coaches to make the most adjustments.”
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Simmons & Other Sixers Get Shouted Out
Regardless of how one feels about Simmons’ jumper or the way he goes about his business, there’s no denying the impact he has on the court, particularly on defense. To that end, the survey once again recognized the Aussie as one of the game’s best lockdown specialists.
Simmons came in fourth in the best defensive player vote and was also the No. 2 choice for best perimeter defender (trailing former Sixer Jrue Holiday) and most versatile defender (after Antetokounmpo). He also received a vote in the most athletic category.
Elsewhere on the survey, Seth Curry showed up in the best shooter and best off-ball movement categories — which were both won by his superstar brother. Meanwhile, Andre Drummond got a vote as the most underrated offseason acquisition and Doc Rivers received votes for best manager/motivator of people, best in-game adjustments and best defensive schemes.
- Sixers’ Thybulle Backs Simmons: ‘Thrown Under the Bus’
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- Joel Embiid Wants the Sixers to Make This Change on Offense
- Redick Wishes He Had Remained With Sixers