It's Time For The Simmons Era To End
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The Sixers had another disappointing playoff exit, but these playoffs might sting a bit more for Philly fans than years prior. They were the top seeded team in the East, Joel Embiid was an MVP candidate, and they had a great coach in Doc Rivers. But alas, they still fell short thanks to some questionable decisions by virtually everyone on the team. However, it seems as though it’s Ben Simmons taking the brunt of the blame, and I can’t say I didn’t see this coming.
Last year, I wrote about how the Sixers were at a crossroads with their young duo of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. There were questions surrounding Simmons’ game, and whether or not he and Embiid were compatible. This season was a big year to prove the naysayers wrong because the process was moving at a snail's pace. But after what we witnessed in the Hawks series, it seems as though Simmons should be the odd man out.
As good of a point guard the former number one pick is, his shooting is still a big question mark. After six seasons in the league he just can't hit a jump shot. His shooting percentage within three feet from the basket is solid, but that's easy for most NBA players. But the numbers get uglier the further away he shoots. If you look at it, from 3-10 feet he shoots close to 38 percent, from 10-16 feet his percentage is horrendous and from 16 to beyond it gets even worse.
We’ve seen broken jumpers get fixed before. Markelle Fultz is a recent example. However, the fact that Simmons hasn't improved at all on this part of the game is baffling. His partner in crime, Joel Embiid, has improved with each passing year despite his injury problems. So the Aussie either hasn’t been putting in the work, or it just isn’t the cards for him to reach that next level. To be honest, I don’t know which is worse.
His confidence seemed at an all-time low in the Hawks series, which was highlighted by this play:
You gotta wonder what Simmons was thinking.
In four of the seven games in the series, he posted only single digit points. Simmons' highest point total was 18 and that was in game two. That's unacceptable. Especially with the type of money Philly has invested in him. Even more eye popping was the fact that Simmons didn't bother to shoot the ball. He averaged just under seven shots a game! Even Furkan Kormaz shot the ball more than Simmons, and he gets a fraction of the minutes the Aussie does.
He was nowhere to be found in game seven. Embiid put up 31 points, Harris chipped in with 24, and Simmons came through with 5 points....5 points. Everyone can clown on Giannis for his free throw shooting, but at least he competes. It's obvious that Simmons' diminishing play is all mental. His free throw percentage in the regular season was 61 percent, in the playoffs it's dropped to 34. That's insane!
The Sixers shouldn't have any more patience for the young guard. The bigger the game is, the worse he plays. He proved that with his performance this postseason. He's not built for the fire. Heck even his defensive stock took a hit trying to guard Young. There just isn’t much more you can do with him. Even Embiid seems fed up, and he didn't hold back when describing the turning point in game seven:
"I don't know how to say it — I thought the turning point was just, we had an open shot and we made one free throw, and we missed the other and then they came down and scored."
It's become clear that Simmons' time in Philly should come to a close. Heck even Shaq said he'd whipped Simmons' "ass" if he was his teammate after the debacle of game 7. Not a great compliment for the Sixers guard. Just more reason to move on from the Simmons experiment. Plus, if you somehow manage to put up a worse free throw percentage than O'Neal it's time to do some soul searching.
The Sixers can get some solid pieces for Simmons. It's one thing to have a bad playoff showing, but it’s another thing to show regression as time passes by. In games 2, 3, 5 and 7 Simmons didn't attempt a single shot in the 4th quarter. Just unacceptable. The Process isn't totally dead, it just needs to be altered, and it’s time that Elton Brand, and the rest of the front office accepts that.