It’s been a debate for quite some time now. Do Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons complement one another as a credible one-two punch in today’s NBA?
I think we all recently found the answer after the Atlanta Hawks, who entered game seven of the Eastern Conference semi-finals as seven-point dogs, upset the 76ers in front of a ruckus Philadelphia crowd.
Simmons, a former first overall selection of the Sixers out of Louisiana State in 2016, seems like he’s been around longer than four seasons and is just 24-years old. Some of you are likely wondering why a talented, large stature and terrific defender at the point guard position shouldered all of the blame for the Sixers playoff blunder.
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It comes down to this. Simmons is not confident shooting the basketball. Late in the game seven contest with the Hawks, Simmons had a chance to make a critical bucket, and all that stood in the way of the 6-foot-10 guard was Trae Young. And Young was barely in his way; all Simmons needed to do was go up and dunk the basketball, yet the tentative guard opted to pass instead.
Simmons’ struggles from the free-throw line are highly documented. He’s a liability late in the ball game, so much, so the Hawks wrapped up Simmons off the ball throughout the series to put him on the charity stripe just to garner an extra possession.
Simmons finished averaging just under ten points, 6.3 boards, and 8.6 assists per game during the series. The boards and assists are terrific, but Simmons needs to find a way to be at the very least a threat to score because right now, teams are shifting the majority of their focus on the likes of Embiid and Tobias Harris, daring Simmons to make an impact on the offensive side of the ball.
The 24-year old guard did not attempt a single field goal in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game seven, and he knocked down just one of his two free-throw attempts. Embiid, on the other hand, drained 31 points and added 11 boards.
To put it bluntly, Simmons has continued to wither away late in ball games.
The Detroit Pistons should not attempt to add Ben Simmons via trade.
I understand Simmons is just 24-years old, but with what feels like a stout crop of youthful players first-year Detroit Pistons general manager Troy Weaver has assembled, why add a player that carries a significant cap number for several years?
Simmons just finished the first of a five-year deal worth $177 million. Simmons carries a cap hit of $33 million next season, and that number increases every season over the duration of the contract, which tops out over $40 million in the final year of the deal.
The Detroit Pistons just offloaded the Blake Griffin contract; why would you be so quick to replace it with a player that struggles offensively? Unfortunately, the answer is, you can’t.
Simmons is a tremendous facilitator, and his ability to defend one through five on the court is impressive. Still, you can’t pay said player upwards of $40-million per season on a great passer and defender that can’t knock down a clutch shot or free throw late in a ball game.
IF the Detroit Pistons entertain the thought of adding Simmons in a trade, it would likely cost the organization Killian Hayes and Jerami Grant to make the money work. No thanks.
Detroit will carry nearly $30 million for one more season of dead cap money after buying out Griffin.
Hayes is under team control for less than $10 million per season through the 2024-25 season, which is the same length as the current Simmons deal.
Hayes is not nearly as talented as Simmons today, but watching how well he finished the season with the Detroit Pistons, fans are salivating about what could be in the future.
If Simmons’ salary happened to be half of what it is, I’d be all in to an extent but not for the package I previously mentioned to make the money work. I think he’d excel as the third option and facilitator on a playoff team. Instead, he’s proven once again not to be clutch and working as a second option. Simmons clearly does not want the ball late in the game, and that’s a problem when you’re making franchise-altering money.
The Pistons have something going right now with Grant, Hayes, Saddiq Bey, Isaiah Stewart plus hopefully an upcoming lottery pick in the 2021 NBA Draft. There is absolutely no reason to mortgage the future by adding the high-priced Simmons.