Fact or Fiction: Philadelphia 76ersby Ben Fadden August 19, 2021 0 comments
The Philadelphia 76ers enter every season as one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference. They backed it up in the regular season last year, finishing with a 49-23 record. However, Doc Rivers‘ squad still came up short, falling in the second round to the Atlanta Hawks.
Joel Embiid recently signed a four-year extension worth $195+ million. This clearly proves that Philadelphia will try to win as much as possible in the next five years. Will they try to win with Ben Simmons despite his shooting woes? That’s the biggest storyline to keep an eye on going into training camp. Many statements about this year’s squad are being made, but we’ve got you covered with our Fact or Fiction series. It features the biggest claims being made about the 76ers and offers you the answer with a decisive fact or fiction.
Make sure to check out all of our other Fact or Fiction articles.
Ben Simmons Will Be Traded
Imagine how lethal the 76ers would be if Simmons could shoot? They’d be right up there with the Brooklyn Nets, Milwaukee Bucks, and Los Angeles Lakers as the class of the league. Except he can’t shoot and that’s where the root of the problem is. When a team has a point guard making $30 million a year, he’s expected to take the last shot at the end of games.
Simmons looked afraid to do that in the playoffs last year. He literally chose to pass the ball when he was right under the hoop for a layup in Game 7.
Philadelphia simply can’t get to the top of the mountain with a point guard who can’t shoot. It doesn’t matter how great he is as a defender. Jrue Holiday struggled offensively with the Milwaukee Bucks in the playoffs but he still averaged five more points per game than Simmons. Five points is a big difference in the playoffs. The 76ers lost by three points to Atlanta in Games 4 and 5 of their second-round series loss.
Simmons is easy to bash because of his shooting woes but trade can happen because of how coveted he is around the league. He’s still just 25 years old and has four more years of control. He averaged almost 12 points per game last year and is an elite defender. We all saw how valuable an elite defender is in the Finals with Holiday’s performance against Chris Paul. The Minnesota Timberwolves reportedly are “very interested” in Simmons while the Golden State Warriors and Portland Trailblazers are likely going to stay in touch with Daryl Morey in case the price tag lowers.
Simmons also hasn’t been returning calls from Philadelphia and has considered not showing up to training camp in order to get a deal done. Simmons might not be dealt before the season but the front office knows they can’t win a ring with Simmons as the primary ball-handler.
Verdict: Fact, His Time’s Up
Tobias Harris is the Second Best Player on the 76ers Right Now
You know my answer to this statement based on what I just wrote about Simmons. While Simmons is an elite defender, Tobias Harris is a more complete player. Last regular season, Harris was second in points per game (19.5) among 76ers players–five more points per game than Simmons. Harris also averaged more blocks, fewer turnovers, and had a higher three-point and free throw percentage last season. In the playoffs, Harris averaged ten more points per game than Simmons.
Basketball Reference has a useful statistic called “Win Shares”, where they estimate the numbers of wins contributed by a single player. It takes defense and offense into account. It’s similar to baseball’s Wins Above Replacement statistic. Over the last two seasons, Harris has compiled 13.3 wins while Simmons has 12.9 wins. Last year, Harris (7.1) had over a full win share more than Simmons (6.0).
Verdict: Fact, Simmons’ Offense Hurts Him
Embiid is the Best Center in the NBA Right Now
The 76ers know how special Embiid is. He’s had an injury history but can be a game-changer if paired with the right point guard in the playoffs. That’s why they gave him the money. However, he isn’t the best center in the league right now. Not when Nikola Jokic won the MVP award over him.
When it comes to the center position, it’s not all about points. Embiid edged Jokic out last year in that category. However, Jokic averaged more rebounds, more assists, and had a higher field goal percentage last season. One stat that shouldn’t be overlooked is games played. Jokic played all 72 games and led the Denver Nuggets to the playoffs without Jamal Murray while Embiid only played 51 games.
The best center in basketball conversation is similar to the best player in the world conversation. Kevin Durant and Giannis Antetokounmpo are separated by a hair. Embiid and Jokic aren’t separated by much either. Jokic staying on the court puts him over the top.
Verdict: Fiction, Can’t Put Him Ahead of the MVP
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