Ben Simmons needs to be traded

Milan Varia, Staff Writer

The common saying “if something ain’t broke, don’t fix it” can usually apply to many aspects of the Sixers. Joel Embiid is performing at an MVP level, Tobias Harris seems to be a capable secondary scorer, and, most importantly, the Sixers are winning games. With the top seed in the Eastern Conference, the Sixers are succeeding more than they have during the entire 2010s.

But there is one thing that is broken; Ben Simmons. 

The Sixers may have a real shot at capturing an NBA championship. But with Ben Simmons on the roster, this will never be possible.

The depressing reality is if the Sixers want to dominate, the two-time All-Star must be traded. No player has hindered the true potential of this squad like Simmons has the past four years.

As it is right now, Simmons and Embiid are the two clear best players on the court. They need to lead, play defense, and do anything they can to win. But to win the close playoff battles, the Sixers need something Ben Simmons does not possess: the ability to score at all three levels.

Of all the contending teams, the Sixers are the only team that has only one true scorer. 

The Brooklyn Nets have 3 of the greatest scorers ever in James Harden, Kevin Durant, and Kyrie Irving, the Celtics have Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, the Lakers have Lebron James and Anthony Davis, and the Clippers have Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.

The Sixers only have Joel Embiid. While Embiid posts MVP numbers, he cannot be the sole clutch scoring provider in the playoffs. He deserves someone right on his side, a reliable player who he can kick out to and create space for himself, whether it be at the perimeter or inside the arc.

Ben Simmons cannot do that. Even with his playmaking skills and handles, Simmons is not trustworthy in late-game situations. No amount of practice will fix his jump shot. He is always a year away from being a year away. And it’s not like he has been the greatest this season.

13.4 ppg is a career-low, with a career-low 53.7% from the field. 53.4% is not particularly bad. But there needs to be context. Simmons takes 85.3% of his shots inside 8 feet (99.8% of his shots inside the arc); it is clear he is still not willing to change. His PER rating is the lowest it has been since entering the league, ranking below players like Immanuel Quickley, Naz Reid, Mo Wagner, John Konchar, etc. These are all players that are on pretty bad teams, are young, and lack experience.

89th in offensive win shares and 5th in highest turnovers per 100 possessions does not help the argument. How can your playmaker and court general be committing turnovers at the 6th highest rate? It does not work. If these liabilities persist, it creates a problem that will be the end of the Sixers’ glamorous run this season.  

Without spacing, teams clog the paint, resulting in less space for Joel to do his work inside the paint or from the low post. While Simmons provides great playmaking and DPOY level defense, he will only bring this team down come playoff time. A primary ball-handler needs to shoot. Joel Embiid needs a tireless scorer who can shoot. It is that simple. The Sixers already have a few answers to fill the void of Simmons. 

Off the bench, Shake Milton has been posting 6-MOTY stats. He provides most of the bench scoring for the team and has been capable of getting plenty of points. In games this season where has played 25 or more minutes, he averages 19.12 points. In the same games, he averages 1.5 steals, and the team has a record of 6-2. He may not provide the defense, but he can certainly step up. Likewise, Tyrese Maxey can do the same. He has been one of the most impressive players in his class. Maxey has played 11 games above 20 minutes and he averages 14.27 points in those games, so he is also more than capable of bringing the same type of scoring impact as Simmons. 

The difference between the two is the long-term potential for the team. Simmons’ growth has been relatively stagnant. While his defensive game has become better since entering the league, nothing has changed offensively. But there is an answer for that too: Matisse Thybulle. This season, Thybulle holds his opponents to just 36% from the field. With this, he’s the third-best among qualified perimeter defenders in block % and first in steal %. These stats reflect the percentage of opponent possessions that end with a steal/block by Thybulle. His 6’11” wingspan lets him guard the best of scorers. 

Each of the three aforementioned players has skills that can develop them into being extremely good compliments next to Joel Embiid. As previously mentioned, spacing is going to be the key for the Sixers moving forward. If spacing can be created, Embiid will not only continue to have his monstrous MVP campaign, but he will perform even far more efficiently. But upholding that spacing is particularly hard when the point guard cannot shoot at all. Soon, players like Seth Curry and Tobias Harris might return to earth, and the spacing issue will occur again; think similar to the year before Butler where the only consistent shooters the Sixers had were JJ Reddick and Marco Bellinelli. Besides them, the ball movement on the court was stagnant, and having that issue deep into the playoffs will only hurt the team.

So, who do the Sixers trade for? The answer is none other than Bradley Beal. There might not be a player who fits better next to Embiid than Beal. An off-ball scorer machine is perfect for this team. The duo, if created, will surpass any expectations they have right now. Beal will be the key piece if the Embiid and the Sixers want to create NBA history.

A trade may not happen anytime soon, but Morey is not afraid to pull the trigger. Do not be surprised if he is dealt by the trade deadline.