In terms of fan and pundit perception, Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons has never looked worse. And it would seem that some of that has bled into NBA front offices as Sixers president Daryl Morey has been unable to find a trade worthy of the embattled floor general.
For a player who has declared that he’ll sit out training camp in an effort to force a move, that’s not a good spot to be in.
As unfathomable as it may have seemed just two short years ago when Philly inked him to a five-year, $170 million extension, one less-than-awesome playoff run has seemingly knocked Simmons off of his superstar perch. However, not everyone is piling on him; some still recognize the incredible amount of game that he has.
This week, Bleacher Report’s Andy Bailey embarked on a 2016 NBA re-draft. The key question at hand with the exercise was simple: Is Ben Simmons still No. 1, knowing what we know about him at this juncture?
As Bailey sees it, the answer is yes, absolutely.
B/R: Simmons Still Worthy of His No. 1 Status
In his write-up, Bailey pointed out that it was essentially one play that represented the tipping point in the Simmons situation. Sure, his free-throw struggles played a role in the Sixers’ earlier-than-expected playoff exit, but his reluctance to even take a shot when the team’s season was on the line looms largest:
Ben Simmons passing up a wide-open dunk in the Philadelphia 76ers’ Game 7 loss to the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference Semifinals wound up being the lasting image of his 2020-21 campaign. It set the stage for an offseason packed with trade rumors.
And that’s a shame.
For years, analysis of Simmons has focused far more on what he isn’t than what he is. That moment against the Atlanta Hawks took the analysis to a fever pitch.
The fact that Simmons still does so many important things at such a high level and has one of the best-rounded skill sets in the Association is something that is getting lost in the discussion. Without him, the Sixers wouldn’t have been in a contending position last season. And the same may prove true in the year ahead, too.
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Focusing on What Simmons Does Do
For all his warts, Simmons has made good on much of the promise he showed coming out of LSU. Added Bailey:
Simmons is an annual Defensive Player of the Year candidate. He can guard every position. He can end a possession with a rebound, take it coast-to-coast and either hammer the ball home or find the right target for a kickout.
In a different situation with a different organization, perhaps Simmons might be empowered to do the one thing that’s been missing over the course of his career.
He concluded that Simmons is likely a multi-time All-Star regardless of where he would have landed in ’16, even without a jump shot. As such, he’s still worthy of that No. 1 status. However, if Simmons could become a capable shooter, Bailey — like many — still believes he could be an MVP candidate.
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