The Philadelphia 76ers were eliminated from the 2021 NBA playoffs by the Atlanta Hawks. The series went on to seven games where Atlanta overcame adversity.
Is Ben Simmons the reason why Philadelphia keeps losing in the playoffs?
Ben Simmons is an unbelievable facilitator and terrific defender on the court which makes him an enormous piece to this 76ers team. The main concern that fans, teammates, coaches, and analysts have with him is the fact that he can’t buy a bucket to save his life; figuratively speaking of course.
Ben is averaging 14.3 points in the five seasons he has been in the NBA including the playoffs. He did not play his rookie year back in the 2016-2017 season. When it comes to putting the ball in the basket, it is not a surprise that he doesn’t do it very much, but going into the 2021 NBA playoffs; he did not have to worry about that as much since his teammate Joel Embiid was having an MVP caliber season averaging 28.5 points (career-high), 10.6 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.4 blocks per game. Another teammate of Ben’s that was doing outstanding in the playoffs this post-season is Seth Curry dropping 18.8 points per game to help Philly get to as far as the second round. Lastly, Philadelphia’s defense against any team this season was impeccable. The 76ers were ranked second in the NBA on defense so they did what was needed to be done on that end.
You can say that Simmons did have to worry about scoring because nothing Philly did was enough to get to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Should all the blame be on Simmons though? Is he the ONLY reason why the Sixers lost this series? In the last three games against the Hawks, Ben had a combined 19 points to end the series. He also passed up a wide-open layup under the basket late in the 4th quarter in Game 7 that could have been a big momentum flip for Philadelphia to win the series. Clearly, there is something going on with him when it comes to scoring the basketball, but is it really fair to say it is all on him?
What should the 76ers do about Simmons?
After his performance in this second-round playoff series, many people have debated the situation of trading him to another team. Ben is under contract by Philly which pays him $33.0m in 2021-22, $35.4m in 2022-23, $37.9m in 2023-24, and ends in 2024-25 with $40.3m. His contract is significantly huge for any team to take on, but if they already have great scorers, no playmakers, and atrocious defenders then it will be a smart move for an organization to trade for him. Now for Philadelphia, keeping Ben will be smart because he makes those around him way better with his IQ, hustle, and intensity on both sides of the ball. He has declined the offer to play for his country, Australia, in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics this summer which he is most likely doing to work on his craft. Developing a shot should be his main priority to become the superstar player he was meant to be.
If the Sixers do end up trading him, they need to go for guys who are as exceptional as he while having the ability to put points up on the board. Someone who is going to change the culture when it comes to winning in the post-season for Philly. If not, then it is just a waste of time, money, and chemistry to give up such a valuable talent for mediocre skill.
The process started years ago and it is still ongoing…