With one star banged up and the other a legit weak link right now, the Philadelphia 76ers are still a Game 7 win over the Atlanta Hawks away from a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals. The struggling star, Ben Simmons, was a non-factor in Philadelphia’s Game 6 win Friday night.
Hampered by two early fouls, he registered six points, five assists and nine rebounds in just 25 minutes of action in a game the 76ers had to win to save their season. Meanwhile, Tyrese Maxey filled in capably with 16 points off the bench.
Simmons has never become a good shooter. Seeming to be afraid to shoot jumpers creates a self-fulfilling prophecy that he can’t hit them. After going 2-for-4 from the line Friday night, he’s now 24-for-71 from the charity stripe in these playoffs (33.8 percent).
He generally fills the stat sheet and is one of the best defensive players in the NBA. But questions about how Simmons and Joel Embiid fit together going forward are back. Looking toward the offseason, the idea Simmons will be traded is legitimately out there.
ESPN’s Zach Lowe has suggested the Portland Trail Blazers as a trade match for Philadelphia this offseason, with CJ McCollum going to the 76ers for Simmons. With 76ers analyst Spike Eskin on The Lowe Post podcast this week, Lowe talked about Simmons’ trade value.
I have news for Philly fans, the GMs of the other teams watch the playoffs very very closely. And there are definitely teams that I have talked to in the last 48 hours who were once in on Simmons, who say, at lease to me, it could be posturing, “eh, we’re a little less in than we used to be.”
At this point, if there was any question, Simmons’ limitations as an offensive player are not going to change. 76ers GM Daryl Morey did the right thing to surround he and Embiid with shooters (Seth Curry, Danny Green). And yet, here we still are. Simmons is too talented to throw in the towel on. But the 76ers are succeeding practically in spite of him at this point, and quite frankly he may need a change of scenery.